Accompanied by a vegan friend, I turned up at the organic foods superstore ‘Wholefoods’ in Kensington for a talk on seasonal food by River Cottage chef Tim Maddams.
Tim is impressively passionate about fairtrade, organic and locally sourced food. He explained how cooking seasonally is different:
“Every chef’s early training consists of 1) plan menu 2) buy ingredients 3) serve it. At River Cottage, whatever is delivered in the morning… I cook in the evening. It forces you to be creative.”
Tim’s early training with Marco Pierre White, Alistair Little and St. John’s restaurant led to a gig cooking around Europe for 2 years, for the Formula 1 circuit.
“This left a sour taste in my mouth. Going to poor countries in an expensive catering unit and importing food” explained Tim “I wanted to connect again with local producers in Britain. It’s not just a moral choice. Seasonal and local food tastes better. Your local butcher and greengrocer can never compete with a large firm. If we don’t support local producer and shops, especially in a recession, they won’t be there in a few years time.”
As Tim talked, helpers handed around samples of cheese (Devon Bell, subtly pungent sage), charcuterie from Wales, Cocoa loco, Sussex based organic chocolate using coffee beans from Cafe Direct and Lyme Regis sourdough bread. I felt guilty, as my vegan friend would only be able to try the bread.
The tasters in the audience immediately began communicating in a chorus of “mmm’s” and “yum’s”.
“Calm down dear it’s only cheese” joked Tim.
To my surprise my vegan friend tried a piece of cheese. Emboldened by her, I attempted a tasting of the ‘lomo’ and the venison salami made by Trealy farm in Wales. I haven’t eaten meat in 30 years. The taboo thrill set us giggling, equivalent to a virgin’s visit to an Ann Summers party.
Lastly I tried the goose, cured by Tim Maddams himself. Overkill. Discreetly I spat it out. I’m afraid I will not be converted back to meat eating anytime soon.
Tim does state “Eat more veg and less meat” for the livestock industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental degradation worldwide.
Café direct, the fairtrade coffee exporters invited River Cottage chef Tim Maddams to talk about seasonal food as part of a 9 day Tastefair at Wholefoods, Kensington. Check http://www.tastefair.co.uk/ for continuing events as part of Fairtrade Fortnight 2009.