Editor’s Blog: Latest Discoveries & Gems

Hello from Great Food Club HQ in Melton Mowbray,

Last week I delivered a guest lecture about Great Food Club to final-year students at the University of Leicester Business School. It was a surprise and an honour to be asked. I explained how GFC has developed over the past nine years and how we decide who to write about. It was an interesting exercise because it made me re-examine our editorial policy. So… how do we choose who to write about?

  • We focus on local independents
  • We focus on places we’d happily recommend to a friend

If food and drink producers, pubs, delis and restaurants meet those criteria, we write about them.

Why do we focus on independents? Because, for us, independent is king. We’re not interested in corporates and we ignore chains. That’s not because chains are ‘bad’ – independents can learn a lot from them – but rather because we believe in celebrating independents. These local gems are what make our towns, villages and cities better, more colourful places to live in. They are not all good, of course, but those that are tend to be run by passionate entrepreneurs who have roots in their local communities.

Several gems are featured below. I hope you enjoy reading about them!

Founder & Editor, Great Food Club

Matt delivering his lecture

The Crown at Elton

Owner Marcus Lamb and head chef Gavyn Willimer have brought bags of experience and passion to the beautiful The Crown Inn at Elton in Cambridgeshire – one of the newest additions to our recommended list (it has quite a serious horse chestnut tree outside, too!). More here.

Inside The Crown

The Sorrel Fox, Mountsorrel

Last week we paid a flying visit to Charnwood Brewery’s newish micropub in Mountsorrel near Loughborough. It’s just a short walk from Michelin-starred John’s House Restaurant on Stonehurst Farm. The Sorrel Fox’s manager Nick told us there used to be 28 pubs in Mountsorrel! It’s is a lovely little pub in a former pet shop. More here.

Inside the Sorrel Fox

Warner’s Distillery & The Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards

Lois Gauthier, the French head distiller at Warner’s

Last week saw the launch of the annual Carlsberg Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards in Harrington, Northamptonshire. As part of the launch we enjoyed a tour of Warner’s Distillery (previously Warner Edwards). Last time we toured this distillery on Falls Farm in Harrington was on the day the business launched in 2012. It’s been a rollercoaster ride since, but what a local success story!

Tom Warner and the team like to call themselves ‘Gin Farmers’ and that’s bang on. Twice a week they extract two tonnes of spring water from their farm in order to make the gin. They flavour their gins with as many fresh ingredients from the farm as possible – including elderflowers (they’ve just planted a new orchard), lemon balm, borage, honey from their own hives and camomile. They’ve set aside another 17 acres for growing more botanicals and have recruited Jonny Easter, their own conservation and sustainability manager. It’s a great story of farm diversification.

A thatched beauty

The Tolly, Harrington, Northamptonshire

A few hundred yards from Warner’s Distillery in Harrington is ‘The Tolly’ – a beautiful thatched pub that’s won a strong reputation over the past few years under head chef Joe Buckley. It’s now part of our recommended network. More here.

The Leicestershire pub that changes lives

The White Horse in Quorn, Leicestershire, is a pub that amazes time and again. Their charity The White Horse Wishing Well helps people in the local community going through tough times. Some of the stories are amazing. You can read a few here.

The Queen of Black Garlic

Derbyshire’s Kay Hawkins (aka The Quirky Cook) is a magician with Black Garlic! So much so that she won a Golden Fork in the Great Taste Awards 2018 for her Honeyed Fig Relish with Black Garlic relish. To give some context, there were 12,634 products entered into the awards and just 17 Golden Forks awarded! We’ve finally got round to adding Kay to our recommended list. More here.

Love pies and ferrets? Read on…

By Graham Wright

A while back, Countryfile Magazine commissioned me (GFC founder Matt) to write a food tour of the East Midlands. I’ve just updated it, so please give it a read – especially if you’re a fan of pies and ferrets. Here it is.

The Plough at Sleapshyde

The Plough is owned by the team who run Dylans at The King’s Arms in St Albans. Following their success there, they have transformed this previously neglected thatched country pub in the hamlet of Sleapshyde, Hertfordshire. The food is modern and exciting. More here.

The Bookcafe, Derby

The Bookcafe in Derby is a stylish yet quirky city-centre retreat, where the ambience is calming and inspiring. More here.

Gourmet Goat, London

One of our six new London recommendations, Gourmet Goat in Borough Market, offers an East Mediterranean-style menu with stunning options such as kid-goat kofta and slow-roast rosé veal. More here.

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The author:

Matt lives in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He is passionate about the independent food & drink sector and founded Great Food Club in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town.