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No substitute for local ingrdients, says chef

THE head chef at one of North Devon's top hotels is convinced luxury foods need not come from half the world away - and the proof is in his puddings... as well as his starters and main courses!

As part of British Food Fortnight (September 20-October 5), Simon Keating at Woolacombe Bay Hotel is keen to demonstrate that you don't have to go all the way to France for a decent Brie, or Switzerland for top-notch chocolate.

Simon has a real passion for the South West and organic local produce, sourcing almost everything he buys for the hotel, its Doyle's Restaurant and Bay Brasserie, from local producers.

One such is Good Oil, a hemp seed produced by husband and wife team Henry Braham and Gina Murray at Collabear Farm near Barnstaple and fast becoming popular with the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver.

It is an excellent substitute for olive oil, rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 and does not have to be shipped from Greece or Italy for the privilege.

"We use it in all our dressings," said Simon, who has been at the hotel for seven years and head chef for four of those, as well as a Taste of the West judge last year.

"You get far more flavour with this and it's lovely drizzled over salad.

"Having come from North Devon originally, going away and then coming back again, I have seen how the top chefs would only use ingredients from France and around the world.

"But even before the carbon footprint thing came out, I felt we had everything we needed right here in the South West."

As a chef, he is self-taught, with no extended stays at catering college, although he learned classic French cooking from David Rayner at Kittiwell House in Croyde before going on to work at Watersmeet.

Meats, fish and vegetables for the hotel are bought in North Devon more often than not - free range organic eggs come from just up the road at Twitchen Farm - while truly luxury items Simon cannot get quite so locally, are still found in the South West.

"For example, the Camel Valley brut from Cornwall won a gold medal at the international wine challenge and was the only sparkling wine outside of Champagne to do so!" he said.

"Sharpham Estates near Totnes make the best Brie outside France, plus red and white wines too."

Her is also hoping to source chocolate for the hotel's dishes from the vats of William Harcourt-Cooze in South Devon, better known for the television show following his bid to make British chocolate great again, called Willie's Wonky Chocolate Factory


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Tags: Devon Chef , Hotel Chef , Local Ingredients , Organic Local Produce , South West Chefs

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