Local produce runs through the heart of business for Michelin starred chef Nigel Howarth. Charlotte Wareing talks to him about keeping it close to home.
Lancashire is blessed with some of the best suppliers in local produce, which means you don’t have to travel far to find the best.
That’s according to celebrity award-winning chef Nigel Howarth who has retained his Michelin Star for 17 years and has built his brand on the best of not just British, but his own county of Lancashire.
Famous for his gastronomic creations at Northcote Manor, Nigel also owns The Three Fishes at Mitton, The Highwayman at Nether Barrow, The Clog and Billycock at Pleasington, and The Bull at Broughton, North Yorkshire, all Ribble Valley Inns.
“My ethos has always been to buy local if the produce is good enough,” he said.
“The whole philosophy is that economically we are trying to get a circle going, that local suppliers prosper. It builds up a relationship.
“We have an understanding of them and their produce and are fully in tune with their ethics. It helps to keep the local economy moving - it’s a difficult old world out there and we know that.”
Nigel says the last 10 years has seen a renaissance in local - something which is only going to become more intense with the horse meat scandal.
He said: “When people come into one of the restaurants they want to know where their turnips and carrots are grown, and what part of Lancashire everything comes from.
“We have established a base of local suppliers that helps us be the best.
“I think the information we are fed is becoming more intense, like so many other things in our lives, and people are spending more time taking a deeper look at where things come from.
“The horsemeat scandal has brought this to another level. People will want clarity on every element of their dishes.”
Nigel says more must be done to tackle deception in the meat industry, and it’s not acceptable parents do not know what is served up to their children in schools.
Last week it was revealed cottage pies delivered to 47 schools across Lancashire was withdrawn after being found to contain horse DNA.
Nigel said: “Maybe there has been an element of complacency in the meat industry, but we never thought it was a deception.
“In the UK we are welfare friendly and you have to cater to that audience. When it comes to deception, there are no excuses.
“The sad thing is that because of this deception a lot of good food will be thrown away. That saddens me.
“It’s not about horse as a meat, it’s the deception that’s the bad thing.
“For mums and dads to not know what is being served in their children’s dinner at schools, that’s not acceptable.
“I have always been in business for a reason and that is to try to produce to the best of my ability. It all comes down to going home at night and feeling comfortable about what you are doing.”
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