Produce, whether meat, fish, grain, fruit or veg, is a result of its environment. How it is grown, reared or manufactured makes the difference between an average product or an outstanding one. The power of provenance is not lost on Sodexo. Choosing specialist suppliers and artisan producers for the ingredients they source is a crucial part of the supply chain that goes into creating delectable dishes and stunning suppers.
We recently visited three suppliers for Sodexo Prestige Venues & Events venues with the purpose of capturing their unique processes on film; Red Oak Farm who produce Heritage Black Beef, Chalk Stream Foods – purveyors of wonderful rainbow trout, and Whitelake Cheese who this year were commissioned to make a special bespoke cheese especially for Royal Ascot.
This week, we travelled to the south coast, to Chalk Stream Foods. Based just outside Romsey on the beautiful River Test, founders, Arthur Voelcker and Hugo Hardman, invited us to experience what they call ‘Hampshire’s secret larder’.
Chalk Stream Foods are all about the trout – specifically Chalk Stream trout and are on a mission to get this quintessential and sustainable British fish back onto menus across the UK once more. The farms are on the world famous Chalk Streams, the Test and Itchen. They are often described as being ‘gin clear’ and the water quality second to none after being filtered through the chalk downland to underground aquifers and their springs that feed these rivers.
As Arthur explained to us ‘it is this clean and constantly flowing water that provides the perfect habitat for our trout to grow. With around two tonnes of water entering the farm every second our trout are always swimming giving them great muscle structure as well as being very lean’.
There are just over 200 Chalk Streams in the world and 90% of them are found in Britain alone. As a result, the care of the water and the environment is at the forefront of their operation. Water returning to river must be rated the same class A as when it entered and they are randomly checked by the Environment Agency every two weeks.
Fish husbandry is led by Pete Ware, known as the ‘fish whisperer’. He is on site every day, feeding the trout right through to when they are harvested. Each fish is sorted by hand to check for quality by Pete and his expert team, and each one is harvested to order to ensure absolute freshness. With hand fileting and smoking done locally, Chalk Stream Foods are able to get their prized fish from water to waiter in 48 hours.
Check in with us next week to read about our trip to Whitelake Cheese in the West Country...
WATCH THE VIDEO FROM OUR DAY ON THE TEST RIVER.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PRESTIGE VENUES & EVENTS PROVENANCE CLICK HERE