And its here!
The menu for the Terry Laybourne event on Saturday 10th August is now available.
1pm Saturday 10th August, 10 covers – £25.00 per person (excluding drinks) With Terry Laybourne as Chef.
3pm Saturday 10th August, 10 covers – £25.00 per person (excluding drinks) With Terry Laybourne as Chef.
After an arduous few months of painstaking work whereupon the team at North Country Growers, Dave Kennedy and Huts and Pods ( http://www.northumberlandhut.com ) coincided upon plans to build an original pop up restaurant within vallum kitchen garden, what once was an idea, finally became a reality.
The chefspod was born.
The resplendent chefspod trundled into the kitchen garden on the back of the trunk reclaimed truck and wow did it take our breath away. Made with reclaimed timber, the chefspod seats 12 people at any one time on a single communal reclaimed timber table within the pod itself. Also within the pod is a fully functioning kitchen displaying a range of modern kitchen equipment.
The outside walls of the chefspod are festooned with an art exhibit of edible flowers and herbs creating a picturesque scene good enough to eat. The inside walls are criss crossed with boards of reclaimed timber and feature beautifully made quoted plaques giving a home made feel to the wooden contraption. Peering out of the chefs pod, the view of vallum kitchen garden is magnificent and adds to the matchless event of dining in the chefspod. All of this culminates in a very unique dining experience you will not want to miss.
The inspiration behind the menu for each event is the locally sourced produce found in and around vallum farm, including the vegetables we grow within the kitchen garden itself. Some of the vegetables used to create the meals inside the chefspod are picked just feet away and placed on a plate within minutes of being picked.
As the sun set over the horizon on Saturday leaving the beauty of a summers day behind, the first chefspod sitting day also came to a close. It was a tense day, all the plans that had been put in place, all the work that had been done had finally come to this. This was the day we found out if all our work had been worth it and… it definitely had. The three sittings on that glorious Saturday afternoon had been definitive in showing us that we had done something amazing and the fantastic response only furthered our expectations for the next sittings.
We will be inviting guest chefs from around the UK to appear regularly at the chefs pod, some of which you will know very well and will be anxious to meet. The guest chefs will be revealed soon so watch this space!
More sittings have been announced and are available for booking now on the #chefspod bookings page. These bookings are in high demand after the tremendous enthusiasm we experienced on Saturday so get booking!
In my first post I mentioned that my Dad has some pretty quirky ideas on how to create the perfect vegetables. Well one of those ideas is forced clamping.
Clamping was used in the Victorian period and for preservation through the wars when rationing was at an all time high. It was where a raised platform of soil is formed and straw was placed on top, then, after the vegetables had been placed on the straw, another mound of straw would be placed on top. This allows the vegetables to be preserved from the effects of winter in the outside atmosphere and the effects from the cold ground which can damage them.
The vegetables are kept this way through the winter months, in a perfect time machine, pristine as the day they were tenderly placed in their beds of straw for the vegetable hibernation of a lifetime. The art of clamping has allowed vegetables as old as 12 months to be found out of season in the likes of restaurants my parents provide for but with the powerful taste of a vegetable in the throngs of first freshness.
The term forced gives way to the clamped vegetables having light taken from them to encourage them to grow faster in their desperate bid for light to harness energy from. Our new forcing tunnel at Vallum may look like someone has planted a vegetable garden in a roller disco when the UV lights are on, but the propagation tunnels are allowing our little clamped vegetables to grow rapidly into sweet bundles of delicious!
The pictures above show the forcing tunnel and my lovely Uncle Mark planting by candlelight.
Now as a footnote i’d like to note that I did not ask my parents for advice for this post and so if I have made a mistake i’ll say sorry now!
As the winter that fought so hard to defeat the break into springtime relinquishes its grip on the land and we begin to emerge like butterflies into the coming summer season, we will also emerge with armfuls of beautiful pea shoots, deliciously edible flowers, broad beans, fennel, carrots, beetroot, sorrel and gorgeous Japanese Shiso cress to name just a few of the products which have been pushing themselves skywards in the last few months.
If you haven’t already tried these then I have just one thing to ask you… What on earth are you waiting for?
Get down to a great restaurant to celebrate the onslaught of summer. I recommend Dave Kennedy’s Food Social or Vallum restaurant where you could even catch a glimpse of the team in progress or if your feeling like going somewhere in summer, get down to the Lake District for a few days and visit Simon Rogan at L’Enclume in Cartmel and taste those edible flowers! mmmm..
Although I adore the developments of land my parents tend which provide me with the income to treat myself to the sweet nectar’s of life, my iPhone and the extra charges I incur each month for example, (sorry daddy!) I can’t say I myself will be continuing with the nurturing of the family business. I feel that is best left to my younger brother Kyle.
Don’t get me wrong, i’m proud of the business and I make that known to both my friends and anyone who dares to use the sarcastic tone of voice in which to infer ‘oh, so your parents are just farmers then?’ Because no, my parents are not just ‘farmers’ they are entrepreneurs providing a service you will not find anywhere else in the UK for the price they give. Your expectations for them can only rise once you see the extent to which they have pushed the boundaries of conventional farming to produce never before seen vegetables and that’s not to mention once you actually taste those morsels on the side of your Sunday lunch. But my path in life is not that of vegetable produce. I want to study business at university next year, maybe go into marketing or teaching. But hey, with a degree in that, I could only help the business succeed eh? Until then though, I guess i’ll help out every few months or so…
As the daughter of nationwide renowned vegetable growers Ken and Tracy Holland, I am constantly asked by owners of restaurants my parents supply to, career advisers who ask of my parents profession and many others if i’m proud of what my parents have achieved in the last 8 years. My usual response is to politely smile and nod graciously but in retrospect, I am profoundly proud of my parents success.
They have worked relentlessly to get where they are today and they took a massive risk those eight years ago when they decided to start up a vegetable growing business by leaving their day to day jobs and embarking on a tireless journey of blood, sweat and many tears. But they succeeded. They developed from a simple shop selling organic vegetables they bought in from suppliers to a delivery business selling organic fruit and vegetable hampers to be delivered straight to the doors of customers. With the success of those first few years ringing in their ears, Ken and Tracy Holland decided it was high time to develop their own produce through the development of land and thus ‘the walled garden’ was formed.
A few years on and this business has developed in tremendous proportion dropping the organic aspect and moving on with the formation of three more land developments in Vallum Kitchen Garden, Vallum Farm and L’Enclume allowing North Country Growers to be born.
My parents are now renowned nationwide for their heritage and micro varieties supplying the UK’s best known chefs and mitchelin star restaurants and of course their quirky ideas on how to produce the best vegetables, one such idea being forced clamping; the storing of root vegetables through the winter to preserve them through the cold months. They have become known as the only heirloom growers in the North East and are regarded highly by the UK’s most prized chefs.
So, as to the question of am I proud of my parents? Well let me ask you one in return. How could I not be?
Photo Source: Ken Holland