Episode 59 John Rensten
Forage London

Mushrooms, who knew?  Well, some people do, but most us will be  doing some intensive learning in this episode.  Mushrooms do some amazing things and cover miles and miles of the forest floor without us even knowing. 

By the time you finish listening to this interview with John, you’ll be wondering why on earth we don’t do more of what he does, and why restaurants and cafes don’t feature more food sourced in this way.   

I’m talking about foraging.   

To me, foraging is a no brainer. The foods you come across, whether they are roots, berries, leaves, mushrooms, seaweeds or flowers, are true super foods. The act of searching for them also helps your wellbeing, either because you’re enjoying it with family and friends, or, if you’re on your own, it’s like a form of meditation.  

You might have ruled out this activity, because you live in a town or city.  Think again!  John discovered the rewards of foraging in London, as he explored his local park in Stoke Newington.  You won’t believe how many different species of plant he has eaten from that square mile, but you’ll find out later.  

Now that his home is in Dorset, John’s foraging patch extends to woods and the seashore, as well as different green spaces in the capital. Through his foraging walks, workshops and book, he’s doing his bit to spread the word about wild foods and just how fascinating they are.  

Andrew Parry Norton

Episode 53 Andrew Parry Norton
New Forest Commoner

I think it’s fair to say that, from a global perspective, we’re living through uncertain times. In particular I hope as a listener of this podcast you are asking questions about what to eat, where to purchase our food and how our food choices are impacting the environment and world around us.   

Whilst sometimes these are complicated questions, what’s been inspirational about many of the podcast conversations I’ve now had, is how – despite the politics and complexity – many food and drink producers are just getting on with it, and making a big difference to their local communities. As this weeks guest, Andrew Parry-Norton puts it, ‘What’s on your doorstep is the most important thing.  Once you get that right, it spreads from there’.  

Andrew’s lucky.  He happens to have the beautiful landscape of the New Forest literally, on his doorstep.  As a Commoner, as well as a farmer, his animals can truly range free, through heathland and ancient woods. (Sometimes they range a bit too freely, as you’ll hear!) 

In this programme we explore the peculiarities of Commoning history. We also discover how, and even more fascinatingly, why, we are seeing the return of regional native breeds such as Ruby Red cattle and Saddleback pigs, rather than the influx of larger continental breeds.  It makes good business and environmental sense, especially now that the Commoners have their own shared brand, the ‘New Forest Marque’.  In essence, to support a more artisan, kinder, traditional approach to farming, Andrew needs to charge around 10% more and supply more directly to the end consumer.   

Is this the way other regions could go?

Episode 29 James Golding
The Pig restaurants with rooms

James Golding’s impressive chef career has come full circle. Yes, he’s worked with some very big names in London and New York. He learned his craft under Anton Edelmann at The Savoy and then moved to Le Caprice, working for Mark Hix. And as Head Chef at Soho House in New York, his team cooked for A list actors, music stars and royalty.  

But he began his culinary journey in and around the New Forest, foraging for mushrooms with his dad, and getting ‘bored out of his mind’ at Mr Bartlett’s, the butchers, when his parents were having nice chats about cuts of meat.  Fast forward around 20 years and James is back in his childhood stomping ground of Hampshire and Dorset.  

And as Group Chef Director of THE PIG, he makes sure that all the restaurants source their ingredients either from their own kitchen gardens or from producers within a 25 mile radius.  That includes beautiful cuts of meat, which James turns into British charcuterie with – wait for it – Mr Bartlett’s son!   

Passion has definitely replaced boyhood boredom, as you’ll hear…