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Gourmet news: Entrepreneurs, chef to the stars and best gastropub in Britain?

PUBLISHED: 12:05 10 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:14 10 March 2016

Jim Cleaver outside The Granville

Jim Cleaver outside The Granville

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Best in Britain

The Sportsman in Seasalter has been named as the best gastropub in Britain for a second year in a row at the Top 50 Gastropubs Awards. The Shepherd Neame¬owned pub, run by brothers Stephen and Phil Harris, picked up the title at an awards lunch after receiving the most votes in an industry poll organised by pub industry magazine The Publican’s Morning Advertiser. Around 3,000 votes were cast to determine the Top 50 by industry experts including top chefs, pub company bosses, pub guide editors and food writers. The Sportsman, which has held a Michelin star for eight years, serves high¬quality food in a low¬key, cosy pub environment. It has climbed up the Top 50 Gastropubs list since entering in twelfth place in 2010 and claimed the top spot for the first time last year. The Sportsman also took second place in the National Restaurant Awards in 2015. Head chef Stephen Harris makes full advantage of the history and agriculture of the pub’s rural location near the seaside town of Whitstable, churning his own butter, making his own salt, baking his own bread and using only the finest, freshest produce from local farms and fishermen.

Steve Harris, SportsmanSteve Harris, Sportsman

Food and farming entrepreneurs

The finalists for the Taste of Kent Awards’ brand new Young Food and Farming Entrepreneur Award are three talented young women under the age of 30 who come from Maidstone, Ramsgate and Dover. The award, in its inaugural year celebrates Kent’s young food and farming entrepreneurs and is given in memory of ex¬Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Mike Rusbridge, a great supporter of young entrepreneurs. The applicants were judged by a prestigious panel with representatives from the Rusbridge Family Baker who are the one of the sponsors, Kent Foundation, the Princes Trust as well as the Kent Farmers’ Market Association (also a sponsor). The finalists are: Alexander Auger, 24, founder and managing director at The Juice Executive, near Maidstone; Laura Bounds, 29, commercial director at AMC Foods Ltd, Ramsgate and Marie Prebble, 27, a sheep farmer at Dover-based Kent Shepherd. The results were revealed at the Taste of Kent Awards ceremony on 3 March, after Kent Life had gone to press, and will be included in our April edition.

Dry cured loin of pork, cured with fennel seedDry cured loin of pork, cured with fennel seed

Chef to the stars

An award¬winning chef who has catered for celebrities including the Rolling Stones has taken on Shepherd Neame pub The Granville in Lower Hardres outside Canterbury.

Jim Cleaver trained as an apprentice chef at the age of 16 before going on to become commis chef at top London restaurant Le Gavroche. Aged 21, he went travelling for a year, before returning to the UK and joining catering services company Eat To The Beat. He said: “I worked for the company for 10 years, becoming head chef, and catering for the likes of the Rolling Stones, U2, Oasis, Blur and Take That. We mostly travelled around the world with them on tour, but could also be called on to cook for them at home or when they were recording in the studio. “I don’t remember any really weird requests. They may have been big stars with private jets, able to rent out entire floors of hotels, but they often just wanted simple comfort food like cheese on toast.” In 2001, Jim opened a sandwich and coffee bar near his childhood home in Hitchin, which he ran for four years, before moving down to Deal and opening his own restaurant, 81 Beach Street. It proved a huge success, winning numerous accolades, and five years ago he decided to take a break from the day¬to¬day running of the business, moving to Thailand with his family. Jim took over The Granville in the middle of December, closing it for a couple of weeks to undertake a refurbishment which included refitting the kitchen and painting throughout, before reopening in January. Derek Bond, who worked at 81 Beach Street as commis chef 10 years ago, has been appointed as head chef, following roles at acclaimed restaurants including Thackeray’s in Tunbridge Wells and The Marquis at Alkham.

Young Entrepreneur MarieYoung Entrepreneur Marie

The Kent Collection

Kent’s Farmers’ Markets offer a springboard for new food businesses. One such is The Kent Collection. Paolo Rigolli and Dalton Hopper, its founders, both studied at Thanet College and between then have gathered experience at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the British Embassy in Paris, and with Richard Phillips at both Chapel Down and Michelin¬starred Thackeray’s in Tunbridge Wells and Apicius in Cranbrook. In 2013 they set up The Kent Collection. “We produce hand¬made charcuterie, from salamis and saucissons to whole legs of Parma¬style ham. But this is Kentish charcuterie, so all our pork is outdoor¬reared in orchards by a local farmer, and the pigs are fed on brewers grain from a local brewery, whey from local cheesemakers, and fruit. That definitely makes for a happy pig, and we feel this gives our products a unique flavour.” “Then we cure and smoke meat and fish using our own traditional wooden smokehouse. Everything is done by hand.” “While we also offer a catering service, farmers’ markets have been a great way to launch our business, especially since we get feedback directly from shoppers.” To find The Kent Collection, check the stallholder listings on www.kfma.org.uk, where there is also advice for anyone thinking of starting to sell through farmers’ markets.

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