Devon is pretty BIG in the world of food right now. And not just because it’s where we’re holding the Wales and the West heat of the 2017 British Street Food Awards on Sunday. At the Pannier Market in Tiverton. Oh no. There’s something called the Devon Effect at work. And we’re not the only ones to see it. A team from the Guild of Food Writers are in the county this week to try to understand exactly what Devon is doing right.
“The South West has always been rich fodder for the food writer,” says Orlando Murrin from the Guild, “with its wonderful artisan producers, strong culinary tradition and vast choice of places to eat out. The Cornish ‘food renaissance’ over the past two decades certainly has done much to boost the region’s reputation, but now many food writers feel that Devon is where the main action is.
“Every month seems to bring news of launches, openings and awards; it is as if the county is entering a ‘golden age’.” Orlando continues to say: “Seafood, farms, specialist producers, micro-breweries, distilleries – Devon has the lot. Whether it’s a traditional family business you’re dealing with, or a venture-capital-backed entrepreneur, there’s a generosity of spirit in the county – everyone helps everyone else.”
It’s also, thanks to Electric Nights, home to one heck of a street food scene. Devon’s own SeaDog took home top honours at the finals of the 2015 British Street Food Awards – held at the O2 – and they’re back at the Pannier Market to compete again. With the beautiful Citroen H van of Teign Canteen, and the converted horse box The Glorious Oyster, they will be parking up with 13 others who want to win a place in the big 2017 national finals. And the first ever European Street Food Awards — in Berlin.
Orlando, who is the ex-editor of BBC Good Food magazine, will be joined on his Devon odyssey by ten fellow Guild members, including co-chair Genevieve Taylor, TV regular Aggie MacKenzie, Great British Bake Off’s youngest ever baker Martha Collinson and local food writer Anna Turns. And they’ve got a punishing three-day schedule, eating and drinking their way round some of the finest spots in the county. Coast to coast.
The trip begins at Noel Corston’s pioneering restaurant, NC, which is based at the heart of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on the North Devon Coast. Next stop will be Broomhill Art Hotel, which last year won the Food & Drink Devon award for ‘Best Restaurant’. Then it’s on to Eversfield Organic, which delivers the finest grass fed organic meat boxes to households across the UK, the new Salcombe Distillery Gin School and dinner at the South Sands hotel. With a tasting of the new Blanc de Noirs from Lyme Bay Winery.
That just leaves the new Salcombe Brewery before a visit to chef Chris Sherville’s The Vineyard Kitchen on the Sharpham Estate. Next stop will be Dartington where there will be Luscombe Drinks new range of Tonic Waters and goats milk ice cream from Dartington Dairy. Michael Smith from The Venus Company will be talking about a sustainable approach and David Jones from Manna from Devon Cooking School will be cooking tasty delights on a wood fired oven. See? Street food. How life comes full circle…