Despite not having time to grow his own veggies at home TV chef Matt Tebbutt does grow his own herbs and also uses the fruit from his plum, apple and pear trees in his well known restaurant The Foxhunter at Nantyderry, near Usk – www.thefoxhunter.com. He and his wife Lisa are obviously fond of their garden. “We are lucky we have a beautiful garden with a stream running through it and lots of small areas suitable for sitting out at various times of the day. We’ve also got a small orchard and at the moment food is all about orchard fruits, winter vegetables, walnuts, chestnuts and truffles. I like the onset of cold weather so I can serve big braises and slow cooked joints. Seasonal is everything to me and local is preferable wherever possible to support the local farming community, reduce air-miles and get the freshest seasonal produce; but I don’t have a problem using Italian lemons and tomatoes because we can’t produce anything like them. “I particularly love vegetables that you can char-grill, like courgettes and peppers and I like strange and old varieties. Golden beetroot, seabeet and salsify are some of my favourites but cooking up the humble onion or celeriac for purees and soups is a very satisfying process.
“I have recently been travelling the Country sampling the best of British produce for my new series of Market Kitchen’s Big Adventure (on UKTV’s Good Food) and am also currently part of a new series on BBC2 promoting forgotten or little-used breeds and varieties. I’m encouraging people to use mutton as it’s much tastier than lamb.
“Back at home, I’m not a big gardener but I do like to chop things down, it’s very therapeutic and good exercise. Quite often I have to wade into the stream to pull out big branches and once even a five bar gate that was wedged under the bridge after a storm. I enjoy being outdoors; Whitecastle is in our village so when I go for a run, I’ll run up to the castle and back so I can take in the amazing views form the hilltop.
Well known for his love of foraging, Matt recommends, “don’t ever use guesswork, go with a professional guide; mushrooms can be very dangerous things! Don’t trespass and only take enough for personal use; and most certainly don’t take roots and bulbs when leaves will do.
“It’s a shame there is such a lot of wasted food in the countryside; people don’t seem to have the time to make preserves and jellies and such a lot of fruit, in particular, is wasted. My mate in Oxford has set up a scheme with his regulars so that they can trade produce from their allotments for a meal at his place. It’s a great idea and he has discovered some great local varieties of fruit and veg.