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Stir it up magazine May 2017

Gardens of Heligan THE GARDEN KITCHEN >> Having an abundance of organically grown produce literally on your doorstep is the “root” to success for Nicolas Legendre. Nicolas is the trading operations manager at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall and is surrounded by acres of gorgeous fruit and vegetables. “They are very productive grounds,” says the proud Frenchman. “Over 400 varieties of heritage vegetables are grown here. The Gardens are about celebrating the working life of a gardener and we use all of the produce in the kitchen. “Visitors can see it growing and being nurtured and picked, then they can try it for themselves in the tearoom. It’s provenance at its best. There are no food miles – just food yards!” Nicolas, who trained as a chef in Brittany and has worked in restaurants all over the world, explains what attracted him to the job at the famous botanical gardens near St Austell. “I like how they deal with food and how they present it to customers,” he says. “It’s a really dynamic place. I worked in the South West for 17 years before coming here. It’s similar to my country of origin and I love the organic ethos of the area.” The tourist attraction welcomes over 300,000 visitors a year, mostly during the summer months, and have a loyal fan base amongst locals during the quieter months, so the organisation of the catering operation can be tricky. “We are a very humble team with a core staff of 20 people in the catering team but this can increase to around 100 during the summer,” explains Nicolas. “Logistics are difficult but the team is used to it and they love the challenge. They love seeing new people and the change from winter to summer. “At this time of year we’re coming to the end of the chestnut mushroom and forced rhubarb season but we have an abundance of fresh leaves and herbs, and we’re starting to see a lot of things growing. “We do have to top up our vegetables and, when we do, we always buy from local suppliers and farmers, as well as foraging.” The Gardens also has an estate with rare breeds of animals, and most of the meat served on-site is produced on the estate. Lost Once or twice a month they host ‘Lost Stories of Heligan’ - a banquet for 60-150 people serving a set meal made with seasonal produce, which starts with nibbles in the garden and moves to big tables, often alfresco depending on the weather. In terms of ambient goods, Country Range is a mainstay in the garden kitchen, with Country Range tinned tomatoes being a particularly big hit with the team. “Everybody refers to them because they are so good and so versatile for making sauces,” continues Nicolas. “We also use a lot of the Country Range spices in desserts and salads. We use the Country Range Cumin in a Middle eastern-inspired cous cous salad, for example, and the Country Range Cinnamon in our pineapple cake. “The Country Range Extra Virgin Olive Oil is another favourite. It’s a great quality oil and the price point means we don’t have to use pomace oil.” MAY 2017 5 CUSTOMER PROFILE LOSE YOURSELF IN


Stir it up magazine May 2017
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