Our Executive Chef, Simon Hartnett, was among top chefs from across the Central South region who took part in a panel discussion at the Business South Local Produce Trade Show.
Simon was on the stage rubbing shoulders with the likes of Luke Holder, Executive Head Chef at Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest and Luke Matthews, Executive Head Chef at the Chewton Glen Hotel in New Milton.
And while Simon prefers being in the thick of it in the kitchen to taking the spotlight on stage, he had the perfect opportunity to champion buying from local producers.
Simon said: “It was a great opportunity to share our views and promote working with local produce and local producers.
“I particularly like using Isle of Wight tomatoes and include them as much as I can throughout the summer months. We buy local fish, cheese, gin and beer, to name a few products we use at the Queens.
“It makes a real difference when you can build a relationship with suppliers who are local to you. You can get to understand how they operate and how you can work together. We get our sourdough bread from a wonderful bakery called Bread Addiction. They really care about the quality of their product and understand the needs of the hotel.
“I have a great relationship with the team at Mooka, who make ice cream and are based at Petersfield. I’ve been working with them in previous roles since 2012. I really enjoy coming up with ideas for flavour combinations that will enhance the desserts we offer. We had great fun creating the Guinness ice cream that accompanies the Jamaican Ginger Treacle Tart currently on our menu.
The very best of local food and drink was promoted at the Local Produce Trade Show, which is now in its 15th year.
Buyers including representatives from cruise lines, hotels, restaurants and bars attended the show. There was also a session from the Burnt Chef, Kris Hall. He highlighted the importance of being aware of mental health issues in the kitchen and led a workshop for industry leaders.