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Locality and seasonality isn’t just about ingredients for me. It’s the very fibre of everything we do at The Gatherers Bar & Restaurant. The Gatherers is a plant-centric restaurant, meaning that fresh, seasonal and where possible always local vegetables and fruits take centre stage in every dish we cook.
We are located just a short walk away from the local market in Norwich city centre; that means I can walk into town with my chefs and actually have a conversation with those running a stall like CJ’S Fruit & Veg about what is in season and what comes from our home county. There’s something so gratifying about doing this and walking back to the restaurant knowing that we’re cooking with local produce sold by a local and independent trader.
Buying this way means we know that there’s a minimal carbon footprint associated with the produce we buy, and it means that local people have been involved from seed to sale. You can’t help but feel a kind of pride when championing such ingredients.
This year, we’re looking at purchasing land so that we can take this one step further, growing much of our own produce and sourcing everything else from other local growers and suppliers. This will mean that the entire supply chain for our produce will be born and grown in Norfolk, with one or two exceptions. For example, when we put English truffles on the menu, we go to Wiltshire Truffles. Though not local to us, they are a British supplier and source fantastic truffles local to them, and knowing that they share the same kind of ethos when it comes to produce makes them a go-to for us. I’m even in the process of finding a supplier of Norfolk pearl barley so that we can use it in our risottos instead of the traditional rice used, something that unfortunately isn’t produced locally!
When buying large quantities of particular fruits and vegetables, we like to know that our wholesale suppliers can deliver using local produce and supporting local growers. Luckily for us, Norfolk is famous for its agriculture and, to my knowledge, all of the local wholesalers buy lots from local producers. Because of the ethos behind The Gatherers, Norfolk was the perfect place for us to open up – a county with a bounty of farmland, surrounded by thousands of acres of natural habitat for wildlife to thrive. I am so proud to cook with ingredients that I can trace, that are sustainable, seasonal and local.
All of this is a sign of the times, an age where people are growing ever more conscious of what they eat, of the environment and the impact agriculture has. People increasingly want to know where their food comes from. The ethos behind locality grows ever more important not just for us here at The Gatherers in Norfolk, but for people everywhere.
We know that what we put on our plates has a profound impact on our environment, so now more than ever we’re moving towards a more local, conscientious, sustainable and ethical way of eating. For progress to be made it’s important that all suppliers, wholesalers, farmers and growers focus more and more on produce from their local area. I will always champion this with every new restaurant I open, in every dish I cook and in every dish we serve our customers! Be proud of the food you make, take pride in your local agriculture and champion your local independent suppliers.
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