With dishes like confit shoulder of Shetland lamb, chef Bren

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Brent Castle, chef-proprietor of the Three Crowns Inn, Ullingswick, Herefordshire, is a strong believer in sourcing fully traceable ingredients from...

Brent Castle, chef-proprietor of the Three Crowns Inn, Ullingswick, Herefordshire, is a strong believer in sourcing fully traceable ingredients from local suppliers. In 1997, he left London and moved out to the wilds of Herefordshire, witha vision to create a simple and ethical good local eatery. Five years on, and he has transformed the Three Crowns Inn from a relatively quiet country pub into a renowned restaurant and bar which is normally packed to the rafters. "The focus is all on the produce," Castle comments, "we cook using only the best ingredients available in the region at the time, in order to create wholesome, unpretentious food which is precisely cooked and simply presented." This localised sourcing has also created an economic micro-climate where all profit is fed back into the local economy, making this self-sustainable too. A marketing co-operative exists within the locality to provide quality produce to surrounding businesses. The supplier/client relationship here is personal and built on trust. Third parties and middlemen are redundant with the farmer growing or rearing and supplying his goods direct to the buyer. Castle believes this works so well because "consistent quality is guaranteed as suppliers are friends as well as business colleagues, and you are growing your businesses together." The menu at the Three Crowns Inn is changed twice daily to reflect the best of the produce available on that day. Castle comments: "Seasonality has become an empty phrase within the catering industry. Chefs highlight seasonal vegetables on their menus that are, in reality, nothing more than the pre-prepared vegetables you would get anyway. It shouldn't be a fashionable term but a whole buying practice. "At the Three Crowns, we serve only what has grown and is available for harvest on the day in question ­ this is what seasonal produce should be about ­ what is ripe for use on the day." As someone who used to buy for Rick Stein, Castle has taken his philosophy to heart ­ you go to the closest quality source and purchase the best ingredients that they have to offer at the time. In a world where the restaurant is king, good local produce sourced with integrity is the Castle coat of arms.

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