The quality, trust and service which comes with local food nearly always outweigh the cheaper alternatives, says TV chef Alan Coxon...
Food fashions are as buoyant as clothing fashions.
The new Holy Grail of food fashion, in my opinion, is long overdue and a trend we can all nurture.
It's on our doorstep, and we now need to get behind our farmers and producers in a big way. We need to have the option to purchase from local, regional sources - quality assured, cared for, and grown by real people with a passion for what they know.
Our foods should be free from chemical pesticides and growth chemicals. Our animals need to be given quality foods, looked after in good, clean environments, and slaughtered correctly.
We need butchers who follow the provenance of cattle, take care in purchasing and the hanging process, and take pride in the produce, ready for you the consumer. We need to look the suppliers and producers in the eyes and gain trust.
These examples are just small tips of a very large iceberg and many would consider them as being simple and basic practices.
For more years than I care to remember as a chef, I always knew and respected the fact that the secret to my culinary success was to obtain the finest quality base product. Many chefs I deal with through my recruitment consultancy CCRS now think on these lines.
While this has often been slightly more expensive, the value in terms of quality, trust and service has always outweighed the cheaper alternatives.
To incorporate the very people who supply the food produce, and to recognise them within the menu or menu descriptive, brings a sense of pride, quality assurance, and a true sense of effort in the delivery of a real customer experience.
If regional menus were able to boast about their local producers and suppliers, just imagine how interesting it would be when we travel our own country or attract new visitors into our own region.
Imagine the increased options when chasing your next dining experience.
Needless to say, as a chef/restaurateur, there is a cost element, which you need to consider.
Time is needed to source suppliers and negotiate, often on an all too regular basis, with menu flexibility and changed regularly to cope with seasonal availability. This, of course, can also lead to increased printing costs and, needless to say, efforts still have to be made to keep on the regulars' favourites.
Food costings and recipe costings need to be regularly checked, as small producers can sometimes amend prices at short notice, often due to the Great British weather variations.
Smaller companies may also have limited delivery ability although, through experience, I have found smaller individuals to be far more reactive to the emergency needs of the caterer.
To the general customer, you can rest assured that your food has not been travelling for a week or more.
A few hours ago it could have been dangling its roots firmly in rich soil, as our farmers bring us fresh, crisp and healthy produce.
Regional cheese producers herald world-class quality and the list is endless. From raw ingredient to ready-produced, from beers to fruit wines, we have it all.
Our new food trend is here - its local, regional and British. Let's harvest it, enjoy it and above all, let's be proud of it.
For information about Alan and his TV media work visit www.alancoxon.com
For information about Alan's recruitment company, CCRS, visit www.ccrs.uk.com