KENT CHEFS GO FORAGING WITH I'LL BE MOTHER AT THE BEACON, TUNBRIDGE WELLS
Foraging has been popular for some years now, and professional chefs’ enthusiasm for gathering food from wild and natural places is only increasing. On Monday 13th March, over sixty top chefs from Kent and surrounds flocked to a fascinating forage led by wild food expert David Harrison.
The Beacon’s impressive thirteen acres were slightly muddy from rainfall the day before, but that didn’t dampen chefs’ spirits as they braved the crisp Spring air to embark on a flora and fauna adventure. Harrison is Michelin-starred chef Simon Hulstone’s personal forager and sources wild ingredients exclusively for Simon and his small team of talented chefs at The Elephant, Torquay.
The event was hosted I’ll Be Mother's Executive Chef Scott Goss, who demonstrated a duck dish with crispy skin and duck soup.
The Beacon, positioned on the brow of the hill overlooking the Happy Valley perfectly lent itself as the perfect venue for the cheffy wild food hunt. The impressive garden sits below the patio terrace, dropping away from the restaurant towards the valley with three refurbished lakes to be filled with trout next year. .
Scott said, “I’m really lucky to have these beautiful grounds on my doorstep – I am spoilt for choice. I thought the event today was brilliant and it’s great to be able to educate and enthuse fellow chefs on our philosophy on food: zero waste using the whole animal and use of as much kitchen waste as possible. Foraging makes up a big part of my menu here at The Beacon– Most of our mornings are taken up with foraging and it’s great to learn of all the other species available here from David Harrison – We’ll definitely invite him back next season to show us more!”
The culinary experts went on a tour of The Beacon’s impressive grounds, learning to find and identify the abundance of edible plants, seeds, nuts, flowers and fungi that grow wild in the beautiful Kentish countryside. They learnt that provided you are furnished with a permission from the land owner, the only real cost of foraging is time, a valuable resource for chefs. Most foraged produce is perishable and requires picking for service daily or every other day.
Forager David Harrison told chefs: “Once you pick something, it immediately starts to lose its peak flavour and texture. So we do not store for that reason; we forage every day. It’s great to see so many chefs in attendance – I hope that foraging with the chefs today spikes and interest in foraging and encourages them to bring this old skill back into the kitchen”
The event was a great chance for chefs to learn about foraging for their menus and the copious amount of amazing wild ingredients growing all around them.
The Chefs’ Forum launched in Kent in 2013 and has gone on to see many young chefs find work placements and apprenticeships in the best professional kitchens across the county and beyond.