In conversation with Executive Chef Sam Bowser, our Head of Sustainability, Will Dennis discusses how our latest tasting menu celebrates seasonality and a sustainable approach to livestock farming.
Our last tasting menu hailed the arrival of spring and the emergence of new life and fresh flavours. This month we continue the seasonal celebrations, showcasing the versatility of summer protein with a menu centred entirely around lamb.
We are mindful that a menu centred on meat may raise eyebrows in a world facing a climate crisis, especially when livestock are often blamed for their contribution to global emissions. This is a short-sighted view, driven by mass scale, intensive farming. Our lamb is organic, sourced from our sister farm Daylesford just a mile away. Organic farming works with nature, rather than against it, and our sheep are grazed on rich pasture which in turn sequesters carbon into the soil. We agree that reducing meat consumption is key to combatting climate change, but strongly believe that eating less, but better quality, meat like organic is part of the solution.
When I ask about the inspiration for this menu, Sam tells me that to truly celebrate lamb we needed to use as much of the animal as possible. “There is a real nose to tail ethos here”, he says – every dish has been designed around utilising a different part of the lamb and avoiding waste, from the prime saddle for the main to the bones used in making the broth. “Each course has been paired in an interesting way with seasonal ingredients, and garnishes that the lamb may have grazed.”
I am interested to know what it is like to work with organic lamb from a chef’s perspective. “You can tell the difference in flavour certainly, but as an ingredient it is more challenging – as chefs we love to have a certain consistency, like weight, age or fat covering but organically reared animals are naturally variable. But adapting to this variation is all part of it.”
The menu’s seasonal ingredients are the mark of summer’s depth of flavour, with aubergine and tomatoes being partnered with fresh girolles and this season’s honey. It is clear that the dishes will be fun to produce too. “I’m really looking forward to working with some of these ingredients”, says Sam, “especially the sweet woodruff which we are incorporating into a retro throwback arctic roll – a different way of cooking for us”. This sheep’s milk-based dessert is Sam’s solution to matching the rest of the menu, a challenge also met by the preceding ewe’s cheese course.
While the menu is ready to go, we are most excited to see the reaction of our guests to the single protein concept and the flavours of some less popular cuts. Chef Sam will be adding his customary flair to each dish, promising more at-table theatre as the courses are served. If you would like to join us, please sign up here, or keep an eye out for our upcoming seasonal tasting menus throughout the year.