Episode 46 Guy Singh-Watson
Riverford Organic Farmers

When, in the 1990s, Guy Singh-Watson started delivering boxes of organic veg to neighbours and friends, he realised he was onto a winner. People loved the fact that the vegetables tasted great and were grown locally.   

He probably didn’t realise just how big a winner it was. Today Riverford Organic Farmers supply boxes to between 50 and 60 thousand households a week and have a team of 700.  

I was very excited to get to speak with Guy since I’ve read a number of his blogs about the impact of modern farming and monoculture.  Guy really brings to life the impact such approaches of mass production are having on the soil, and how important soil is for all of us to be able to continue to live on planet earth.  Fundamentally I wanted to learn whether ‘organic’ is really important and how much work should we, as the hospitality industry and the general public, be putting in to thinking about not only where, but how our fruits and vegetables are grown.  To say Guy has an opinion or two on this is an understatement.  But he makes the case eloquently and enthusiastically for change. 

While the business has scaled up, the guiding principle behind it has not shifted, as you’ll know if you’ve ever watched Guy’s YouTube series, ‘Guy’s Rants’. For him, respecting the health of our soil, through traditional mixed farming rather than rigid specialisation, is vital for the health of us all. 

Whether you agree with Guy or not, this programme will definitely make you think about consumer choice, and whether the world has gone mad in allowing us to choose delivery times to within 20 minutes or having little gem lettuces flown over from the States.  

Should the era of getting what we want, when we want it, come to an end? 

Let’s discuss…  

Episode 42 Steven Lamb
River Cottage – Part Two

Welcome to the second part of my conversation with one of River Cottage’s linchpins.  He’s Steven Lamb, often fondly referred to as the ‘ham and cheese’ man, because he’s the author of the River Cottage handbooks on ‘Curing and Smoking’ as well as ‘Cheese and Dairy’.  

We’re turning back the clock now, to when Steven’s fascination for charcuterie and cured meats began… 

Episode 41 – Steven Lamb
River Cottage – Part One

If I say ‘River Cottage’ to you, what comes to mind?  Perhaps one of its campaigns: Fish Fight, or Chicken Out or War on Waste.   Or maybe you’ve got one of the River Cottage handbooks, diving deep into foodie topics, from cheese to charcuterie.  

That’s the striking thing about River Cottage and its team: the variety of what they do. What started as a docu-drama, following Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s attempts to set up his own smallholding 20 years ago, has now grown into a cookery and chefs’ school; three award-winning kitchens and the base for amazing banquet-style get-togethers.  

Steven Lamb has been part of that journey, pretty much from the beginning. He arrived as the team’s new media expert, helping to build its presence online. But nowadays he’s better known as the Cottage’s curing and smoking guru, as well as its expert on cheese and dairy.    

In this, the first part of our conversation, we’ll explore the evolution of River Cottage and Steven’s own career, leaving Big Brother behind to embrace hospitality ‘from a standing start’.   

Episode 40 Jethro Tennant
The Dorset Sea Salt Company

On a massive rock that juts out into the English Channel, there’s a young man who cleverly mimics the salt lakes of the Camargue.  Ok, what Jethro Tennant has created in the last two years is actually a mini version of these salt plains: carefully extracting the salt from the pristine water around Dorset’s Chesil Beach, and drying it in artificial heat which is powered by solar, wind and biomass energy.  

And in just 24 months, demand for his product – Dorset Sea Salt – is growing steadily, from discerning delicatessens, farm shops and restaurants to big names like Selfridges.  

Not bad for a start-up that began life with Jethro heaving jerry cans of sea water from the beach to his parent’s house, and experimenting with the evaporation process on his mum’s hob… for hours, and hours. (Don’t mention the gas bill!) 

Perhaps the most intriguing thing is what triggered Jethro’s fascination for sea salt in the first place.  I doubt if you’ll guess. You’ll just have to listen to find out. 

Episode 37 Mitch Tonks
Award winning chef, author & TV

This week you meet a champion of the sea and of preparing seafood simply and sustainably. Whether you’ve got one of his cookery books, visited his award-winning Seahorse and Rockfish restaurants or watched him on TV with world class rugby player Matt Dawson, you’ll know that Mitch Tonks is one of the country’s most fervent ambassadors for fish   

You’ll hear just how fervent, when he talks about the planetary benefits of freezing fish; whether prawns should be on or off the menu and what he’s doing to make sure that the rubbish his trawlerman collects from the sea isn’t dumped straight back into the ocean.  

He’s also great on the difference between real hospitality and the stage set version and why the willingness to chat is a must if you want to become a restaurant owner. 

I thoroughly enjoying spending time with Mitch, and I’m confident you’ll enjoy this weeks conversation.