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Long before I opened Lamberts thirteen years ago I knew that my restaurant would offer locally grown, seasonal food and I have stuck to this ideal even though the reality of sourcing good British ingredients has been far harder than I ever imagined. There simply isn’t enough to go round.
Restaurateurs and chefs are notoriously territorial about their suppliers – in fact many chefs refuse to reveal where they get their ingredients from. We, however, have always name-checked our suppliers as we see them as key to the success of our restaurant.Without these wonderful people our dishes just wouldn’t be the same. By ensuring the tireless producers behind the scenes enjoy wider recognition, we hope to encourage restaurants making the extra effort that such ideals necessarily involve.
With very few exceptions, the ingredients we use in the kitchen come from small British suppliers. We want to show the diversity of British produce as well as minimising our carbon footprint. So whilst our menu in September features dishes made with chanterelles and plums, we don’t normally use produce commonly associated with overseas cooking. For the same reason we only offer fish from sustainable stocks found in the waters around the UK. You won’t find caviar, cod, salmon (farmed, organic or Alaskan) or trawled fish on our menu (which is a method that has had a detrimental effect on other stocks and the environment), but we do offer delicious Mackerel fresh off the day boats in Cornwall and Dover Sole landed at the MSC certified fishery out of Hastings. We’re not saying we are perfect but we feel that it’s worth doing something rather than nothing at all.
Some of our suppliers are organic but we would rather use premium ingredients grown in the UK than organic which have been flown half way around the world from poor farmers or trucked over from southern Europe with less but still significant environmental impact.
That our farming industry is in crisis isn’t news to anyone, but hopefully the fact that it’s becoming increasingly less socially acceptable to air freight food around the world, might hopefully be the catalyst we need to encourage more sustainable agriculture and ensure we are able to meet the growing demand for good, honest, natural food at home.