When a chef sets himself the challenge of creating a menu composed entirely from within a five mile radius, you can be pretty sure that he’s serious about the provenance of his food. So, as champions of Devon ingredients ourselves we were more than a little intrigued to learn that Chef Luke Fearon (formerly of Treby Arms) was branching out with a brand new venture called The Devon Food Movement.
At it’s core, The Devon Food Movement is all about serving up the very best Devon produce from the moor, sea, farm and field. Chef Fearon is producing a series of exclusive pop-up experiences throughout Devon, in which guests are given the opportunity to feast on some truly outstanding Devonshire fare – often in the form of a 6 course meal.
Last week, I was invited by the editor of Crumbs Devon to join her at the wonderful Rusty Pig to experience one of The Devon Food Movement’s pop-up meals for myself. Naturally, I was keen to find out exactly what the movement was all about and catch up with Chef Fearon to get the lowdown on his Five Mile Food ethos..
Luke, what motivated you to start The Devon Food Movement?
I think everyone who knows me well knows that I have had a very up and down couple of year in the kitchen. I just want to express what I believe good food is about with no hidden agendas or clouds of the past hanging over me. I have reached the point now where I don’t just want to toe the line, but I want to take that risk to find a permanent home for my food that can evolve with me. The Devon Food Movement is my way of connecting chefs that feel the same way with unique venues and passionate customers who want hyper-local, hyper-seasonal, untamed Devon food on their doorstep.
Who is involved in the movement?
I am the founding chef and Devon Food Movement is my company but the food movement id much bigger than just me (Luke Fearon). As the seasons roll on and the list of pop-up events grow I am confidant you will start to see lots more high-profile collaborations and headlining chefs at our events following the principals we have laid out in events past.
As an individual chef I am still on the look out for a permanent residence for my food, but the on-the-road nature of the Devon Food Movement allows me to connect with lots of talented and passionate individuals, in amazing locations, so who knows what’s around the corner for me.
Have you faced many challenges so far?
Every event(laughing) is a challenge. From menu planning within five miles, selling the tickets, trying to fit a small restaurant into a Citroen C1 to cooking and serving 30 customers, sometimes on my tod. Its not an easy job taking our brand of food on the road, but it is a rewarding one when all’s said and done.
How long does it usually take you to put together one of your five mile menus?
When I plan menu I always start with a site visit to get a feel for the place. Every event kitchen is different, and every kitchen has a different location, so the menus can be quite varied. However, working in a relatively small area like Devon and having grown up in the area you can find a lot of common ingredient in many areas. Local knowledge from collaborators and event hosts is invaluable to this process and once I start to understand the area I am working from I can put together a set menu in a couple of hours. It is worth noting though that I don’t usually confirm a menu until about three weeks out to allow for market and weather changes…I mean this is Devon and I was snowbound for four days in March.
What is your favourite ingredient to work with right now?
Right now, it must be wild garlic. One of the many wild ingredients that has such a strong flavour profile and so many varied uses. It grows everywhere in Devon and is such an undervalued resource amongst the wider public!
Are there any ingredients/dishes we won’t be seeing on your menus?
Passionfruit…I love the stuff, but I haven’t found it on my quest around Devon yet and im not sure I ever will. If there is some out there, please get in touch.
How has The Devon Movement been received by guests so far?
The idea of a pop-up, set menu style restaurant that links hyper-local food and talented chefs is being received well. I have event locations contacting me about bringing events to them. I have chefs asking me how they can get in evolved and I have pop-ups selling out before I have had time to produce the marketing material or menus for them so as a company we are taking baby steps, but we are taking the right ones.
What are your plans for the future of the movement?
The plans are still on the drawing pad…I think its important to let these things grow organically and to give each new tangent the time it needs and deserves. We have an ever-filling roster of dining experience to get involved in and when I am not in the kitchen I am always looking for more. Simply the future is just Devon produce cooked right.
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