- The Michelin-awarded TV chef discusses his passion for the fresh produce of the Channel Islands
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Because the Channel Islands are so small, I have the advantage of having everything at my fingertips. From fabulous dairy, to vegetables, seafood and cider, there are so many local independent heroes I would recommend to anyone. One of the greatest things about the Channel Islands are the honesty boxes – or ‘hedge veg’ as the locals call them.
They are essentially stalls on the side of the road, usually outside the farm gates, selling the absolute best of what’s in season. It’s a tradition based on islander’s honesty, and people pay into the pot when they take their produce. I use these as much as possible because I know exactly where my vegetables have come from. It’s so important for chefs to support local farmers and growers, and I can’t recommend it enough. Not only are you getting high quality produce but it’s also fantastic for the local economy.
A favourite independent of mine is the Classic Farm Shop – Jersey’s only independent dairy farm which milks and makes their products fresh on site. From their herd of 60 milking Jerseys, they produce an outstanding milk and a delicious cream which I use when making the butter at Ormer Mayfair.
The Fresh Fish Company in St Helier is where I visit to get my fish and shellfish from local fishermen who bring in their day’s catch to sell. Whether making a sweet Jersey lobster ravioli or delicate Dover sole, it’s important that my seafood is as fresh as it can be, and I can always rely on them to provide me with the best possible ingredients for this.
I would also recommend Fenella Maddison and her Fort Grey cheese made with full cream from The Guernsey Dairy. She hand-crafts everything in a tiny cheese room which is attached to her house, but never fails to deliver on exceptional taste and quality. For good lamb, I visit sheep farmer, David Scott, on the island of Sark – he sells excellent quality lamb which is all sold locally.
Finally, Colin Roche is the island’s only commercial watercress grower. Not only is he a one-man operation, he also picks his crop by hand. His very unusual ‘farm’ is tucked away in St Martin and boasts clear underground springs with a constant temperature of 10°C – ideal for cress growing conditions, producing its signature peppery taste.