Top South Downs chefs back ‘eat local’ campaign

a1 Jeremy Kerswell, Kathy Caton, Hilary Knight, Paula Seager, Michael Sutherland, Steven Edwards

Top chefs in the South Downs region are getting behind a campaign to encourage people to ‘eat local’ by sharing their signature recipes using local, seasonal ingredients on Southdownsfood.org, the free local ‘food finder’.

Steven Edwards, former MasterChef: The Professionals Winner and Sussex Young Chef of the Year, is the first in a line of celebrated chefs in Sussex and Hampshire to be South Downs Chef of the Month, with his spring recipe for local hake and cockles, asparagus and salmon smoked in the South Downs.

Paula Seager, co-director of Natural Partnerships CIC, who is behind the campaign, said, “By buying local food and drink, we can reduce our carbon footprint, support our local economy and keep the South Downs beautiful, by ensuring our farmers continue to farm – that’s what our southdownsfood.org campaign is all about!”

Steven Edwards kicked off the campaign this week [April 4] at Springs’ Smoked Salmon at Edburton, West Sussex, based in the rolling hills of the South Downs near Brighton, where, for over half a century, they have used Sussex oak from the forests around Arundel to delicately smoke salmon, trout and poultry.

Other top chefs supporting the campaign include Matt Gillan recent winner of BBC2’s Great British Menu series, from The Pass at South Lodge Hotel; Michael Sutherland from The Sussex Ox, recent runner up for Sussex Young Chef of the Year; Josh Stanzl from etch; Giles Thompson from The Earl of March in Lavant and formerly The Ritz; and Martin Hadden from Historic Sussex Hotels.

Steven Edwards, who co-owns etch and is signature chef for British Airways i360, said: “You can be the best chef in the world, but without great ingredients the dishes won’t shine. The South Downs has great fish that easily rivals the South West, as well as excellent wine and much more. I hope that my recipe will encourage people to cook seasonally and to use the excellent quality ingredients here on our doorstep.”

a3 Springs Smoked Salmon team

Springs’ Smoked Salmon treated guests at the event to a tasting tour of the artisan smokery where staff, some of whom have worked there for over 30 years, displayed the skills of their craft, led by Chief Smoker, Nick Hook. Over the years Springs have supplied their products to British Airways and Harrods – even Delia Smith is a fan. Samples of their smoked products were served at the launch event, alongside The Dean Brut Sussex award-winning sparkling wine from Plumpton College, Brighton Gin, Wobblegate Apple Juice, South Downs Water.

Hilary Knight, co-director of Natural Partnerships CIC, who manages www.southdownsfood.org, said, “There is a strong local food movement in the region, with thousands of amazing businesses producing some of the best food in the country supported by a growing market. You can find some of the best local producers, food shops, farmers’ markets, farm gate sales and restaurants and pubs on our google maps food finder.

“One of the region’s strengths is its incredible range of produce: there are South Downs’ own breeds of sheep and Sussex Beef, over 100 different kinds of artisan cheese, an abundance of seafood, unrivalled sparkling wine, over 50 craft breweries and the South Downs has its own spring water.”