artichokes, Chef Rob Andrew, Devon, distribution, earth-lovers, fresh, Guy Watson, iconic, live, operations, processes, professional, recycled, redcurrants, Riverford Organic Farms, The Field Kitchen, vegie box, vegies
‘Riverford Organic Farms, 250m away’ announces the bold green sign, waking you up from your green reverie of the English countryside enveloping you. This is not any other farm in Devon, but the real deal. Because, iconic Riverford Organic Farms is quite literally a household name, owing to the countrywide distribution of the beloved box of farm-fresh, organic vegies. And because, the organic food movement is not just a hippie fad or a coffee table choice anymore, but a sustainable and real solution to eco-problems. So it’s not surprising that Guy Watson, the big guy behind the force called Riverford, is treated with the same adulation as a superhero! Or, the Farms’ own unique restaurant, The Field Kitchen, captures the imagination of hardcore greenies and greenhorn earth-lovers alike…
So… When I get a call from Head Chef Rob Andrew, saying that I was welcome to spend the day at the same Field Kitchen, observing, helping learning and cooking in the kitchen, leading up to lunch service, I am (of course!) overjoyed! But in a LIVE kitchen with chefs, and a restaurant full of REAL paying customers? Is it a dream come true, or is it the perfect recipe for disaster? And to top it all, in my excitement, I have promised to cook an Indian lamb curry (Kosha Mangsho) for the whole kitchen team. Oh no!
Oh yes! That’s what I feel next morning, as I make my way to the Field Kitchen armed with lamb chops, an array of requisite spices, buckets of confidence, and a big, positive smile. Rob immediately hands me a Kitchen black tee and apron (yaaaay! I am one of the boys now!), and takes a chunk off his morning prep time to show me around the farm, and back-end operations known simply as ‘the barns’.
As I whiz through the fields, and pass one large warehouse after another, mentally ticking off processes like collection, sorting, picking, quality control, cold storage, assembly-line packing, and dispatch and delivery, I am amazed at the immense scale of operations.
There are juicy and ripe redcurrants, blackcurrants, apples, pears, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, all plump and ready to be feasted on. Never thought the sight of so many vegies n fruits could be this mouth-watering!
Up next, my adventure continues at Riverford… Find out how I fare in a professional kitchen, and how my Kosha turns out 😉