Local hero

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to work with some very talented, committed and passionate local food heroes (several of whom are quite mad too. But that’s for another day).

These are the people who still believe in quality, locally produced food that you won’t find shrink-wrapped in a supermarket chiller cabinet. It’s not just growers but restaurateurs, fishermen, chefs and farmers.

griggs of hythe

Even my local publican goes that bit further and is prepared to try something new. He’s just started selling afternoon tea and cakes. Good on him. If it doesn’t work, it won’t be for a lack of effort.

clotted cream scones – afternoon tea

Then there’s Deryck, a farmer in his 80s who has more vigour than most people half his age. Right now he’s tending his asparagus. Last year he delivered his first batch to us in the middle of April. With these warm days, it might be even earlier this year. Can’t wait.

asparagus locally grown in kent

Living close to the sea, we get to savour some of the finest fish and shellfish that’s landed in Hythe, Rye and Hastings. Griggs of Hythe is the place to be first thing on a Saturday morning.

rye bay scallops

And to taste the catch of the day, head over to Webbe’s, the Globe & Rainbow or the Royal Oak. The chefs working in these establishments pull off heroics in their kitchens every day.

richard vant fourth generation stalisfield farmer

For a truly heroic experience, there’s The Plough at Stalisfield. Robert Lloyd and his team are almost fanatical about food – where it comes from, how it’s cooked and what it tastes like. They waste nothing and practically everything they cook comes from within a few miles. Visit in the depths of winter and you won’t find African runner beans. But you will get to savour what’s available locally. It’s a challenge for Robert and his chefs but a culinary joy for his patrons.

homecured local ham

Equally committed is Charlie Fermor, a young farmer turned entrepreneur who’s developed a terrific business air drying the family’s apple and pears and turning them into healthy fruit crisps.

apple crisps, kent

Finally (for now), I must mention two food heroines – Trisha and Karen of Bonnie Shortie. These ladies bake from Trisha’s kitchen – cupcakes, flapjacks, shortbread etc. It’s always great looking, great tasting and fresh. You won’t find a “use by” date and you won’t get “4 for 99p”. But you will get food that’s honestly made with care and passion by people who care about what they do.

What’s more, of all my food heroes make food that is great to photograph! I salute you.