The Oddfellows, 60 New North Road by Chris Gower

60 New North Road, Exeter –


Just off the bustle of the High Street, under the shadow of John Lewis lies a small pub that has made a big impression on Exeter’s dining scene in recent years.  Nestled between houses and office blocks; it backs on to the historic wall of red sandstone that surrounds Exeter Castle in one of the older parts of Exeter.


You might remember we visited The Oddfellows a couple of years ago to taste the wonder of their burger nights, and we loved it.  The burgers are still to this day some of the nicest that we’ve tasted from a none-burger restaurant.

Exeter has become a foodie hub in recent years and with the Queen St Dining quarter steadily opening their numerous restaurants – both large and small scale chain operations – gastro-pubs/restaurants like The Oddfellows offer Exeter diners a locally-sourced independent option.

The Oddfellows has gone from strength to strength since Yvan & Faye Williams opened their doors ten years ago.  They have since opened a sister pub in Exmouth, bringing their locally-sourced British cuisine to the people of this local seaside town.

I was honoured to be invited to their ten year celebration a couple of weeks ago; it is so heartwarming to know that an independent restaurant like The Oddfellows is going strong.

We were invited along to see what they did best, to enjoy the comfort of this lovely pub-restaurant and to raise a glass to ten more fabulous years.

The menu here is seasonal, it changes regularly using the best local suppliers in their well engineered menus.


When it comes to food, we’re definitely two course people; but the lovely looking dessert menu meant we had to go for all three.  So we shared a starter and dessert!

Tori wanted to experience a cocktail which The Oddfellow’s mixologist produced expertly.  The Speakeasy is The Oddfellow’s very own cocktail bar and is located upstairs above the main bar area.

With its vintage surroundings, it makes you feel you are propping up the bar in a genuine depression-era saloon!  Cocktails are definitely one of The Oddfellows specialties.  I grabbed a Rhubarb Collins from The Oddfellows mobile Cocktail Bar at the Beer & Bacon Festival back in September – it was refreshing and delightful. I digress, but here are some photos from that event.

Our starter tonight was going to be a Pork, Apple, Pistachio Terrine with Apricot Jam, Spiced Pork Quavers and toasted Brioche (£5.75).  An enticing combination which worked together beautifully.  I washed the whole thing down with a pint of Theakston’s Barista Stout.

The chunky terrine was lovely, with the smokiness of the brioche and the fresh butter, it was the perfect aperitif to our main courses.

For our mains we chose two wonderful dishes: For Tori – Westcountry steak: 8oz Rump with caramelised shallots, roasted on-vine tomatoes, beef dripping triple coked chips, smoked bacon and thyme butter.(£16)

Tori commented on how nicely the steak was cooked, and with the triple cooked chips done in beef dripping being some of the best chips eaten on that side of the table, the smoky bacon and rosemary butter on top added flavour – the generous amount of vine tomatoes was a generous and tasty addition.

And for me – Chicken breast stuffed with a black pudding mousse, chorizo croquettes, roasted cauliflower and puree, crispy chicken skin and chicken sauce (£14).


I’m definitely converted to Black Pudding mousse; it was served inside the chicken which was cooked perfectly and served with a delightful gravy.  The chorizo croquettes were mind-blowing, losing the journalistic sensibility  I have to say anything more intelligent, I seriously considered putting some in my pocket to smuggle home.

We finished our meal off with a Chocolate and Orange delice with coffee mousse, brandy snap biscuit (£5.50)

The chocolate had this saltiness which really worked, wonderfully sweet yet salty with the bitterness of the coffee mousse.  An amazing end to a lovely meal.

I really enjoy good food and when you get a restaurant doing things like The Oddfellows, it makes you realise how good food should be done.  I will happily sing the praises of this restaurant with its ethos and the enthusiasm that both owners share for good food and supporting everything local.

The food was lovely, the service with faultless and I will definitely be returning for more.



Pipers Farm closes shop on Magdalen Road


This Saturday, 29 October, Magdalen Road will bid a fond farewell to Pipers Farm as the family run company, which has had an active presence on the road for 23 years, has made the decision to focus its entire business online.

Peter Greig of Pipers Farm states they will be leaving with “so many wonderful memories” and “feeling very positive and optimistic about the future of family farming.”

Magdalen Road is a thriving trading community located in St Leonards, Exeter, boasting a variety of independent businesses, including shops, cafes and restaurants.

Pipers Farm first took residence on Magdalen Road in 1993 with Peter Greig, founder of the successful farming enterprise that works with 25 small-scale farmers to supply consumers and businesses with a mail order meat delivery service, being Chairman of the Magdalen Road Traders Association for 15 years.

Pipers Farm state they are committed to securing an independent retailer as the new tenant as quickly as possible and encourage interest in particular from butchers.

“Magdalen Road is a thriving trading community with strong loyalty from its local customer base. Newcomers on the scene, such as the Magdalen Road Village Bakery, have been very well received and show Magdalen Road is still very much at the heart of the community,” says Peter Greig, founder of Pipers Farm.

“However, we simply cannot ignore the huge growth from online sales and we had to make the decision to pull away from the retail outlet on Magdalen Road in order to allow us to fully focus on opportunities from the online marketplace. This will allow us to not only safeguard the farming community we have established over the years, but allow it to flourish,” adds Peter.

To mark the occasion, on Saturday Peter and Henri, Pipers Farm founders, will be cooking on the barbeque, offering complimentary breakfast rolls for well wishers to enjoy.

“We want to take the opportunity to meet with our loyal customers and personally thank them as well as reassure them they will still be able to enjoy our products through our online, telephone and email ordering service,” says Peter.

For 30 years Pipers Farm has passionately championed traditional farming methods over ‘factory farms’ and it states a rise in demand by both consumers and local chefs for ethically farmed food is allowing Peter and his team to tip the balance in favour of family farms.

Peter comments: “The provenance of food, in particular meat, has been increasingly on the agenda over the past few years and more and more people are choosing to support sustainably produced food and they are doing this by buying online through businesses like ours. This is great news for our small-scale farmers as it means we are able to direct more volume to them, meaning they are less reliant on income from other sources.

We are now in a situation where after 30 years of collaborative hard work by our team and the efforts of all of the farms we work with, we are seeing a significant shift towards young farmers opting to return home and continue the long line of traditional farming that has been in their family for generations.

Over the years, we have had to constantly evolve as farming still remains one of the most volatile and vulnerable industries, but by constantly adapting we are confident we can add even more small-scale farms to our collective, meaning we are achieving our ‘family farms not factory farms’ ethos.

We remain committed to protecting the farms we work with and we are doing everything we can to ensure they are able to continue to develop and grow. In order to do this, we must continue to look ahead and we welcome the continued support from our loyal customers who over the years have been dedicated followers of our ethos. We believe by moving into a new era of our business we can not only continue to support our local community but we can make a real difference to the way food is produced in this part of the world,” says Peter.

Peter Greig, together with his family, runs Pipers Farm, a 50-acre farm in Cullompton. For more information, visit

South West Chef Winners Announced Following Tense Final

Winners of this year’s South West Chef of the Year were announced last night at a glittering awards ceremony and dinner held at Exeter Golf & Country Club. The evening was hosted by competition co-founder Michael Caines MBE and his team of judges, each a top chef from the region, including Stephane Delourme of The Seafood Restaurant; Consultant Chef Peter Gorton; Matt Mason of Jack in the Green; Hywel Jones of Lucknam Park and Seth Ward of Bidvest Foodservice. The competition was also judged by Paul Ainsworth of Paul Ainsworth at Number 6; Neil Haydock of Watergate Bay Hotel; and Michael Wignall of Gidleigh Park who spoke highly of the skill and dedication of the entrants.



The tense grand finals of the two professional classes and the student chef class took place during the day at Exeter College with chefs battling it out for first place in their category as well as the coveted South West Chef of the Year 2016 award. Entrants in the Home Cook and Junior categories, whose finals had taken place earlier in the month, joined competitors for the awards presentation and dinner to find out if they had won an award in this year’s competition.

The awards dinner comprised a feast with courses prepared by three top regional chefs: judge Hywel Jones, a Michelin-starred Executive Chef at Lucknam Park, Bath; Jamie Rogers, a previous winner of South West Chef of the Year (2015) and Head Chef at Belgrave Sands Hotel, Torquay and Scott Paton, also a previous winner of South West Young Professional Chef of the Year (2009) and Head Chef at Boringdon Hall Hotel, Plymouth. Hywel, Jamie and Scott were supported in the kitchen and front of house by students of the Michael Caines Academy.

Despite the competition being in its 13th year, the quality of cooking demonstrated by the entrants continued to surprise judges with its complexity and technical skill. Of the standard, Michael Caines said: “I have been delighted by the standard shown by the competitors. It’s not just about technical skill and the ability to put together mouth-watering flavours; we are also looking for innovation and flair together with the desire to really get behind locally sourced ingredients and give them the culinary treatment they deserve. I am passionate about our regional produce and have been really struck by the dedication our competitors have shown too.”

This year’s South West Chef of the Year was awarded to Jamie Coleman, Head Chef at Saunton Sands Hotel. 2016 was Jamie’s second entry to the competition, proving that perseverance pays. Of his experience and win Jamie said: “This means a lot; it’s my second time competing at South West Chef of the Year and it feels amazing to have won. The competition has provided me with excellent experience and feedback; I came to the heats this year feeling much more prepared. I knew the larder and the process; I knew what I needed to do. My plan now is to keep working hard and learning as well as entering competitions.”



As well as the opportunity to win a prestigious and respected title for their CV, competitors also received invaluable feedback from the judges, each a highly respected chef in their own right. This year also saw the return of previous competitors seeking to repeat their experience and progress up through the categories.

| Winners of this year’s competition |

Best Use of Regional Produce: Sue Stoneman of Exmouth, Devon

Best Menu: Timothy Kendall, Chef de Partie at The Seafood Restaurant, Cornwall

Best Presentation: Jamie Coleman Head Chef at Saunton Sands Hotel, Devon

Best Dish: Shaun Cassidy Sous Chef at Jack in the Green, Devon

SW Junior Chef of the Year: Ethan Macdonald The Kings School, Ottery St Mary, Devon

South West Home Cook of the Year: Sue Stoneman of Exmouth, Devon

South West Student/Apprentice Chef of the Year: Harrison Brockington of Exeter College and Apprentice Chef at Dart Marina Hotel, Devon

South West Young Professional Chef of the Year: Timothy Kendall Chef de Partie at The Seafood Restaurant, Cornwall

South West Professional Chef of the Year: Jamie Coleman Head Chef at Saunton Sands Hotel, Devon

South West Chef of the Year: Jamie Coleman Head Chef at Saunton Sands Hotel, Devon


| Finalists of this year’s competition |

South West Professional Chef of the Year:

Martin Blake, Senior Sous Chef at Manor House Hotel, Wiltshire

Shaun Cassidy, Sous Chef at Jack in the Green, Devon

Joseph Fallowfield, Sous Chef at The Square, Cornwall

Magic Kijewski, Head Chef at Molecular Magic, Dorset


Young Professional category:

Joshua Martin, Junior Sous Chef at Deer Park Country House Hotel, Devon

Lily O’Donoghue, Commis Chef at Mount Somerset Hotel, Somerset

Jade Stephens, Chef de Partie at Lucknam Park, Bath


Student/Apprentice category:

Maia English, Apprentice Chef at The Elephant Restaurant, Devon

Sophie Kennard of Somerset College and Apprentice Chef at The Swan Inn, Devon

Lauren King, Apprentice Chef at The Horn of Plenty, Devon


Home Cook category:

Andrew Callaghan, Verwood, Dorset

Oonagh Egerton, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Beverley Milner Simonds, Burnham on Sea, Somerset


Junior category:

Abbie Brockway, Lytchett Minster School, Dorset

Ashley Gilder, Penrice Academy, St Austell, Cornwall

Ethan Macdonald, The Kings School, Ottery St Mary, Devon

Laura Phipps, Severnvale School, Gloucester, Gloucestershire

Daisy Taylor, Lavington School, Devizes, Wiltshire


For more info:


Twitter:                  @SWChefComp


Vagabonds Milkshake Bar, Crediton – by Lauren Heath

Vagabonds Milkshake Bar, 109 High Street, Crediton, EX17 3LF

15 minutes west of Exeter, in the town of Crediton, is Nicole the Milkshake Lady – a super friendly and cool young woman who’s passion shines across the milkshake bar. Previously working in other milkshake establishments, she realised her passion and opened her own bright pink shop on Crediton High Street 4 years ago.


She named it Vagabonds in honour of her childhood favourite cool cafe; a word that normally means no fixed abode, Nicole’s interpretation is more a rebelious and free one, using the word to mean she doesn’t have to stick to one thing and she can delight her customers with whatever her creative taste buds come up with. She also takes her sweet treats away from the shop to cater at weddings and parties.

After overcoming the pinkness and entering through the door, you are greeted by…well, a milkshake bar. What surrounds it is every chocolate wrapper known to man and, to the left, is the extensive menu.

There is a sofa for resting on and staring at the menu if you are unable to make a decision, or if on consumption brain freeze hits and you are comatosed by it all.

Nicole is very passionate about everything sweet, ice cream and milkshake related so is only too pleased to help you choose or realise your dream milkshake medley. With Autumn firmly settling in, she has updated the menu to include hot chocolate shakes too. Other options include smoothies, healthy shakes, yoggies (frozen yoghurt drinks) as well as vegan shakes (soya milk, soya ice cream and dairy free jugs – ooh err) so those with dairy allergies or dietary preferences can enjoy something too!

With my hubby being a chilli head, he was her first chilli chocolate milkshake – by my suggestion, it was teamed with another one of his favourite things – a daim bar. A toffee triumph with a warmth at the back of your throat, he approved of this milkshake debut. Our son is a mint freak, amongst other things, and so he had a mint milkshake mixed with oreos. This gave a lovely biscuity crunch to the drink and was not sickly at all.

I love peanut butter and so opted for Nicole’s suggestion of Reeses peanut butter cups mixed with rocky road, with swirls of chocolate sauce and some whipped cream on top for good measure. Totally tasty, not sickly, very well balanced – it was delicious.

There is an ice cream counter if you feel like keeping it simple or a frozen yoghurt machine. This clever little machine also does some ice cream flavours, including cappuccino with chocolate chips which I tried and the quality was fab and of course delicious. Nicole and her ice cream machine can be hired for weddings and other events if you are after something a little different for the main event or even for the evening do.

With well over 1,000 followers on both her Facebook page and Instagram, and 5 star comments to match, this has established Vagabonds as a firm favourite for locals as well as holidaying regulars who visit en route to their yearly Devon or Cornwall break and is a treat for children and adults alike. So if you feel like a treat, head to Crediton High Street, and find a milkshake that suits your personality or mood. Can’t decide? Ask Nicole for a suggestion, she’ll conjure somethingup for you like the cool Mrs Willy Wonka that she is.


Manna From Devon Cooking School – The Wood Fired Experts for 2017

The trend for cooking with fire is bigger than ever and it shows no sign of cooling down. In 2017 cooking on a wood fired oven is going to be huge and Holly and David Jones, from Manna from Devon Cooking School, are the experts to teach you how. Connoisseurs in everything wood fired, book your space on their ever-popular courses before they’re snapped up.

With more restaurants, food vans and hotels choosing to cook with fire, it is no wonder people have acquired a taste for the smokey delicacies it produces and are opting to install wood fired ovens at home. Holly and David teach students how to prepare, manage and use the flame to cook a whole range of dishes, from ‘flash in the pan’ squid, slow roasted joints, baked artisanal breads and delicious sweet treats.

Holly and David’s expertise came from a love of cooking in traditional ways and after taking gastronomic trips around the world, including India and more recently to the Southern States of America, they have picked up tips and tricks from the best pitmasters and tandoori kings of the world.

Recently becoming the brand ambassadors for Morsø Wood Fired Ovens, and having published the ‘Wood Fired Oven Cookbook’ in 2012, Holly and David are excited looking ahead to 2017 and have a lot in store for the year. Watch this space!

Holly, whose formal training was at Leith’s cookery school, is Manna from Devon’s expert in seafood, and now, to add to her repertoire, is teaching the wood fired oven courses alongside David. Both run the school group classes and are now available to teach private classes, either in their purpose built wood fired kitchen or in situ with your wood fired oven at home.

If you can think of someone who would thrive in the heat of a wood fired cooking course at Manna from Devon, they are now selling gift vouchers, ready for Christmas. Just visit or call 01803 752943 to find out more.

For upcoming dates and to book one of their wood fired courses visit or call 01803 752943. Follow Manna from Devon on Twitter (@mannafromdevon), Facebook ( or Instagram (mannafdevon)

The Rusty Pig Spicy Pop-up Evening by Chris Gower

I love it when a two great things come together.  The Exploding Bakery and their fantastic new cafe space, coupled with The Rusty Pig and Ex River Cottage chef Robin Rea with his mobile oven made Friday night’s Pop-up event in Queen Street a really excellent evening.


From Robin’s bistro kitchen situated just outside on the pavement, punters were treated to an array of spicy flat breads and other Rusty Pig specials cooked to order to either take-away or eat in.

This is the first event that Exploding Baker owners Ollie and Tom have put on since their extension to the original bakery a few months ago and from what I’ve gathered it won’t be the last sort of event that will be taking place.

Tonight’s menu was going to be a spicy feast with lots of warmth, much needed on the first wet evening in ages.

I’m a big spice fan, but I wasn’t feeling that brave so I went for the Game On flatbread. Smoked Spicy Phesant, Home-made Tabasco Sauce and Gaucamole cooked on a fresh flatbread dough.


With pheasant smoked in Robin’s very own smoker at the back of the Rusty Pig restaurant in Ottery St Mary, this was a beautiful combination which worked so well together.  I savoured the whole thing and ate it very slowly.

To dip, I opted for a side of home-made Tzatiki which brought the temperature down, a pleasing combination which went down far too quickly washed along with a bottle of Wild Beer Co. ‘Fresh’, a slightly sour beer which is one of their more quaffable tipples.

Even though I was on my own, Pop-up events like this are a great way to meet people.  I met so many great people, including Tor, Whitney, Toby from Occasional Brewery, John from Powderkeg Brewery and my good blogger friend Tara with her lovely other half Steve who were also there to take in the spicy flatbread magic of this event.

It would be great to Robin here again, and given it was so close to my place of work, I felt absolutely spoilt to have food like this on, literally, my work door step.  Robin’s mobile kitchen is out and about, and is also available for private events and weddings.

South West Chef finalists announced for 2016

Entrants battled it out at the semi-finals of South West Chef of the Year on Saturday 8th October hosted by Exeter College. The region’s prestigious culinary competition, now in its 13th year, was co-founded and is co-judged by Michael Caines MBE and aims to nurture the next generation of top chefs. The nail-biting semi-finals on the weekend gave entrants in the Professional, Young Professional and Student/Apprentice classes the chance to impress nine top chefs from the region as well as the opportunity to go through to the grand final to be held on Monday 24th October.


Of the standard demonstrated over the course of the semi-final, Michael Caines said: “All the entrants put in a huge amount of hard work with rigorous standards shown throughout the preparation stage and in the cooking and presentation of dishes. The judging team was delighted to see cooking of such high calibre.”

For the first time, judges were unable to split the semi-finalists in the Professional category and have selected five for the final, instead of the usual four. The finalists are Martin Blake, Senior Sous Chef at Manor House Hotel; Shaun Cassidy, Sous Chef at Jack in the Green; Jamie Coleman, Head Chef at Saunton Sands Hotel; Joseph Fallowfield, Sous Chef at The Square and Magic Kijewski, Head Chef at Molecular Magic.

Finalists in the Young Professional category are: Timothy Kendall, Chef de Partie at The Seafood Restaurant; Joshua Martin, Junior Sous Chef at Deer Park Country House Hotel; Lily O’Donoghue, Commis Chef at Mount Somerset Hotel and Jade Stephens, Chef de Partie at Lucknam Park.

Finalists in the Student/Apprentice category are: Harrison Brockington of Exeter College and Apprentice Chef at Dart Marina Hotel; Maia English, Apprentice Chef at The Elephant Restaurant; Sophie Kennard of Somerset College and Apprentice Chef at The Swan Inn and Lauren King, Apprentice Chef at The Horn of Plenty.


The competition aims to provide entrants with the opportunity to learn and progress thanks to the feedback and mentoring they receive. Maia English, finalist in the Student/Apprentice Chef category is a previous winner of the Junior category in 2013 when she was still at school. Maia was mentored by one of the competition’s judges and since winning in 2013, has gone on to become an apprentice chef, firstly at Gidleigh Park while studying part-time at Exeter College and now at The Elephant Restaurant in Torquay.

Competitors frequently work their way up through the various categories of the competition and several of the entrants have reached the final before including: Jamie Coleman, Magic Kijewski and Joshua Martin.

This year’s competition was judged by Paul Ainsworth of Paul Ainsworth at Number 6; Stephane Delourme of The Seafood Restaurant; Consultant Chef Peter Gorton; Neil Haydock of Watergate Bay Hotel; Matt Mason of Jack in the Green; Amanda Metcalfe of Exeter College, Seth Ward of Bidvest Foodservice, Michael Wignall of Gidleigh Park and head judge Michael Caines.


The next stage of the competition will take place on Saturday 15th October with those in the Home Cook and Junior Classes battling it out in their final at Ashburton Cookery School in Devon.

A grand final for the two professional classes and the student chef class will take place on Monday 24th October at Exeter College. This will be followed by a sumptuous awards ceremony and dinner in the evening hosted by sponsor, Exeter Golf & Country Club.

The awards dinner will be hosted by Michael Caines and his team of judges and comprises a culinary feast with courses prepared by three top chefs from the region. The chefs selected to cook at this year’s awards dinner are judge Hywel Jones, a Michelin-starred Executive Chef at Lucknam Park, Bath; Jamie Rogers, a previous winner of South West Chef of the Year (2015) and Head Chef at Belgrave Sands Hotel, Torquay and Scott Paton, also a previous winner of South West Young Professional Chef of the Year (2009) and Head Chef at Boringdon Hall Hotel, Plymouth. Hywel, Jamie and Scott will be supported in the kitchen and front of house by students of the Michael Caines Academy.


Members of the public can buy tickets to the South West Chef of the Year Annual Awards Dinner, priced at £80 per person and enjoy sumptuous food and drink throughout the evening.  A further information and ticket reservation email address has been set up:

Powderham Food Festival celebrates its most successful yet.

The fifth Powderham Food Festival has been the most successful yet with over 6000 visitors attending the two-day event in the grounds of Powderham Castle, during the first weekend of October. Online ticket sales for the festival were four times higher than the previous year, showing that more people were planning ahead and booking in advance of the event.

 The festival also featured a record number of exhibitors, with over 150 in attendance. This was a mix of local food and drink producers offering all kinds of tasty delights to sample and buy, but also a range of unique craft and gift suppliers from the area.

 Event organiser, Bob Small said:

“We were absolutely delighted with the turnout on both days and it was great to have reached a record number of visitors. Not only that but we had even more exhibitors than previous years which meant there was even more choice. This has definitely been our most successful year yet and we’d like to thank everyone for coming along and being a part of it. We look forward to seeing you all next year!”

Attendees were also treated to lively demonstrations from esteemed chefs on the Exeter Cookery School stage, while the Theatre of Fire and Smoke welcomed several barbeque aficionados. The theatre also hosted the Clifton Chilli Club’s fiery chilli challenge which saw several brave visitors go head to head to see who could handle the heat.

Other highlights included the children’s Fun Kitchen where award-winning food teacher Joe Mann provided plenty of messy fun, and live music from a range of jazz acts and acoustic bands entertained the crowds throughout both days.

Photo credits to Attention Media

Eating Exeter does Powderham Food Festival

Both of us visited Powderham Food Festival independently, and wandered round in our groups enjoying many facets of the festival. Now in it’s 5th year, it hosts food producers, food stalls, children’s activities, a cookery theatre and it’s USP is the Fire and Smoke Tent; most events with BBQ events are mainly for BBQ enthusiasts, this drops it right in the middle of mainstream. With the extensive landscape, dotted with deer, a background of the castle and the estuary in the distance – the setting is a beautiful one. There is something for everyone, here are our best bits:


Last year we experienced this festival on a misty autumn day and this year, it was a glorious sunny day. I love how the festival is well spread out inside and outside the grounds, on different levels.

You pass though the initial courtyard filled with suppliers – too many to mention. There are also even more placed throughout the castle’s beautiful lower ground floor.

One of the first activities we came across was Fun Kitchen, who were there to keep the children entertained, learning to cook whilst having fun. Joe Mann does an incredible job of commanding every little persons attention and they end with something edible, made by their own little fair hands, to take home at the end of it.


I loved the Theatre of Fire and Smoke; a huge teepee like tent,  filled with benches surrounding a large fire. Local oracle Marcus Bawdon of Devon Wood Smoke and UK BBQ mag put on a very interesting itinerary with 2015 BBQ champ Simon Dyer and other guest cooks. Plenty of demo’s, q&a and the all important tasters with plenty for everyone.

There was a larger range of food and drink stalls this year, with gin and cocktails an obvious trend.

Quirky vehicles converted into food and drink delights also included Dolly Mixers, Lolas Wings and Gourmet Cheesy Delights

We were hungry fairly early on and, where usually I struggle to choose food (through sheer reason of wanting to eat it all) I easily settled on the cool Grandpa Franks and their reuben dog – a firm hot diggety dawg smothered in beef brisket, monteray jack cheese and some jalapeno’s thrown in for good measure – mouth wateringly good. My son chose a fantastic super-fast-oven-baked pizza from Pizza Buona, and it was delicious.

The Exeter Cookery School cookery theatre included demo’s from Richard of Angelas Restaurant, ex River Cottage chef Tim Maddams, and of course the host, ECS director and chef Jim Fisher. Tim cooked 4 courses, one of which I was delighted to be a selected diner due to the speed I put my hands up like antlers! (A fun and fair selection process). I enjoyed pigeon with mushrooms and blackberries all foraged by Tim himself, it was delicious! He was incredbly entertaining, full of anecdotes and clearly passionate about food and its origins, with uncomplicated dishes.

We purchased some lovely fudge from Devon Fudge, Steve was delighted to find a fantastic Indian naga chili pickle from India In A Jar, and my son loves beetroot and apple juice so he chose to buy some with his pocket money. I couldn’t leave without grabbing a caramel chocolate tart from Te Cake and coffee from Crankhouse – I consumed these two together so swiftly in joyous celebration of a good day out, I didn’t even take a photo!

An affordable and lovely day out full of local suppliers and food producers and all the demo’s included. If you haven’t visited it yet, you best put it in the diary for next year, and hot foot it towards the smoke and fire tent early on – it gets busy. Sit a while until hunger and curiosity lure you out, and enjoy everything this dynamic festival has to offer for yourself.


Summer’s final death knell fell on the weekend of The Powderham Food Festival.  A gloriously sunny Sunday made up for a wet Saturday, and with this final surge, we close the doors on Summer with a superb send-off.

The festival is a relative new-comer to the foodie calendar, but it has been booming in popularity each year.  I finally got the chance to visit and experience the clustering bustle of culinary craziness takes over the home of the Earl of Devon.  This year has been particularly successful for the festival, firmly embedding it in the region’s foodie calendar.

Tori has been poorly for quite a few weeks now, so I took my lovely mum.  The car parking was logical and well laid out, a little walk up to the castle with an optional tractor service for the less mobile.  We we gently pottered along some of the Powderham’s magnificent stags casually laid themselves out by the fence, drawing much attention from the snappers and onlookers.

The first section of exhibitors were local producers in the courtyard.  This was the entry point that all punters walked through on their way to the rest of the festival on the other side of the castle.  Here we found Bell & Loxton with their lovely cold-pressed rapeseed oil, which I bought two bottles of including a Garlic oil that I have since used to cover everything edible in.

Also Shaldon Bakery, my favourite bakers I might add, was there in force with some delicious looking breads including the infamous and delicious Uglibun.

We took a trip around to the other side of the castle and there were street-food stalls, more producers, even a mobile gin bar!  The highlight for me was the Theatre of Fire and Smoke which was MC’d by one of my favourite bloggers Marcus Bawdon and his pal Simon, who is also a legend in the BBQ world.

It was great to wander around taking in surroundings, to watch some of the demos at the Fire and Smoke tent and even get to taste some samples from the demo too!

Our last stop was the Exeter Cookery School Demo tent where we watched chef-maestro-and-nice-chap Jim Fisher and friends, including foodie hero Tim Maddams, share their extensive knowledge and skills to eager foodies.


Before we headed home we were able to walk back through the castle itself which was home to even more local producers.


Including a Pork Pie cake!!

This has to be one of my favourite food festivals.  The exquisite surroundings of the castle, the reasonable entry fee, the choice and above all else the celebration of some of the fantastic local producers and street food stalls makes you realise just how amazing we are when it comes to producing good things with great ingredients, grown and created on our front door.

Continue reading “Eating Exeter does Powderham Food Festival”

Southcombe Farm – Devonshire Grass Fed Lamb by Caroline Gee

I recently bought some reasonably priced British lamb chops from a supermarket and enjoyed them simply pan fried. Then I got a chance to sample some North Devon lamb chops that come direct from the farm and the difference in taste was incredible – not to mention actually cheaper per kilo than the supermarket. You can taste the different grasses, wild flowers and herbs that the lambs graze on their whole life.


Southcombe Farm near Holsworthy is nearly 50% lush Devon Culm, which is managed traditionally and non-intensively.  No chemicals or artificial fertilisers have been used on the meadows for well over 18 years.


I’m a fan of reducing air miles where possible and therefore find it incredible the amount of New Zealand lamb that is stocked in the supermarkets, regardless of the air miles.  We do lamb so well in this country!

If you want to try out some Devonshire lamb (and not forgeting Hogget or Mutton), click on the link below, which includes details of a special offer on half or whole lambs with free delivery between Bude and Exeter, that works out around £8/kg – offer until the end of October 2016.

Also available from the deep freeze at the farm: Individual lamb chops, shanks, cutlets, mince, neck, liver and mutton sausages.


My leftover lamb tips:

Chops/steaks/shoulder etc – chop it up and mix with fresh mint and mayo for a super tasty sandwich filling. Also tasty cold with a salad/couscous for lunch

Sausages – take the meat out of the casing and fry with onions then add tomato pasta sauce/make one up and serve with pasta – a little goes a long way


Written by: Caroline Gee, Exeter dweller who can’t go 5 minutes without thinking about food. Hugely into local produce; talking about food for hours; taking a recipe and making it my own; reducing food waste and regularly doing a ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ style session in my kitchen.

Julie Corcutt of Veg in a Box is up for two Venus Women Awards


Local food entrepreneur, Julie Corcutt, has been nominated in the Devon Venus Awards 2016 and, after being a semi-finalist and being visited by the category sponsors is now a confirmed finalist in two categories – Entrepreneur of the Year and New Business.

She owns and runs Veg in a Box with her partner Bela, and their sister company is TheDevon Meatbox Company. Both businesses have gone from strength to strength with standard, custom made and themed boxes changing constantly to what the customer wants and a flexible delivery schedule.

I have blogged about them in the past and continue to support them in any way I can in my spare time from a foodie and PA point of view and I can say they are one of the most incredibly hard working people I know. Along with existing products they sell, I am pleased to have introduced other small suppliers to them, who they love collaborating with by stocking items in their boxes – bringing the smaller producer to the customer. It’s a fantastic ethos – any suppliers out there, do get in touch with them if you think this is something that would help you.

The winners will be announced at a glamorous ceremony and gala dinner at The Great Hall, University of Exeter on Friday 18th November 2016. Further categories and finalists were announced recently on Venus Awards twitter page:

If you’d like to know a bit more about them, click here for my 10 Q&A with them from earlier in the year.

We have some fantastic small food businesses in Devon and we should support them as best we can.

Comptoir Libanais is now open at Queen St. Dining, the region’s most exciting new food destination


Exeter diners can now experience a taste of Lebanese cuisine and enjoy an exciting 50% off food*, as the fifth restaurant at Queen St. Dining opens its doors.

Comptoir Libanais is the latest restaurant to open its doors to Exeter diners, serving fresh, tasty, colourful and affordable authentic Lebanese food. Open for breakfast through to after work drinks and cocktails, platters for meetings can be delivered to your office and the menu is also available to take away.

The restaurant sits underneath The Terrace restaurant, in the new glass landmark building, overlooking the main square in Guildhall Shopping & Dining.

Tony Kitous founded the Lebanese restaurant in 2008. His vision was to put the glamour into Middle Eastern cuisine and provide diners with the opportunity to experience real, wholesome and healthy Lebanese food in a souk-like setting.

To celebrate the new opening, Comptoir Libanais is offering Exeter diners 50% of all food during its first week of service*.

Tony Kitous, founder of Comptoir Libanais, said: “I’m really excited to be opening a new branch of Comptoir Libanais in Exeter’s Queen St. Dining. We just love to share our home-style Lebanese food and our generous culture with everyone in the city. Since launching the first Comptoir Libanais back in 2008 the response we had from our guests was amazing. They really love and enjoy our fresh, healthy and affordable food and I can’t wait to share our generous food with the Exeter community. I really look forward to welcome our guests in our new Exeter home and celebrate our first opening in the South West.”

Queen St. Dining will feature an eclectic mix of exciting brands, the majority of which are new to the South West. In addition to Comptoir Libanais, the line-up features: Absurd Bird, GBK, Turtle Bay, KuPP, The Stable and The Terrace.

The £12m dining destination will also introduce welcoming open air spaces designed especially for food events, markets and entertainment.

Andrew McNeilly, Manager of Guildhall Shopping & Dining, said: “It gives me great pleasure to announce that the third restaurant to open at Queen St. Dining is Comptoir Libanais. This newest edition will bring a whole new dining experience to the heart of the city. Exeter residents can experience the healthy and wholesome food of the Middle East without having to travel far.”

Andrew continues: “Following the opening of Turtle Bay in August and GBK, Absurd Bird and The Terrace this month, Queen St. Dining is already proving very popular, with restaurants experiencing bookings way in advance. With the remaining restaurants following in October, we anticipate a greater influx of people keen to experience the region’s most exciting dining destination.”

For more information on Queen St. Dining, visit

*Terms and Conditions

  • The 50% offer is valid between 4pm – 11.30pm from 4th – 7th October 2016
  • Diners can receive 50% off all food only, excludes drinks
  • Offer only available on food when dining in the restaurant and excludes take away
  • Offer will be applied to the bill automatically, no voucher needed
  • Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer


Top Chefs Take a Shot at Game with Glorious Devon Fungi at The Chefs’ Forum

Forest Fungi mushroom farm in Dawlish Warren was the venue for this quarter’s Devon Chefs’ Forum event held on Monday (26) September. Over 90 top chefs from Devon enjoyed a day of clay shooting and Michelin-starred cookery demonstrations by Michelin-starred chef Michael Wignall (Gidleigh Park).


The Chefs’ Forum stages quarterly events at various venues in the area and enables chefs to forge links with their peers, young chefs and aspiring front of house professionals from South Devon College and Hit Training. Michelin-starred Michael Wignall led the students in producing delicious mushroom and game canapés for an audience of industry experts.

Scott Marshall, Proprietor at Forest Fungi said: “It is amazing to see so many local chefs here to celebrate and support their industry whilst motivating and supporting the next generation. I am honoured and humbled to see our mushrooms used in brilliant and impressive recipes, crafted by such a high profile chef as Michael Wignall – I am delighted that he has come to Devon to fly the flag for excellent local cuisine using top quality local ingredients. Michael has asked me to install a mushroom ‘growing room’ at Gidleigh Park, which will enable him to crop and cook mushrooms in the freshest possible way.”

Catherine Farinha, Founder of The Chefs’ Forum commented: “We held this event to showcase the connection between the sport of game shooting and game meat and hopefully increase the use of game meat in the chefs’ repertoire for next shooting season. Forest Fungi produces the finest gourmet mushrooms from its ‘Shroom Room’ in Dawlish Warren which perfectly compliment game meat. This was pairing was demonstrated in fantastic Michelin-starred standard cookery which has no doubt inspired their culinary peers and the young chefs. It is great that the students learned about the versatility of game meat and the growing and harvesting of various mushroom species whilst training to be chefs – They will take this knowledge on into industry with them.”

Hospitality students from South Devon College and Hit Training joined Michael Wignall in the Induced Energy Induction kitchen at the Forest Fungi cafe. They produced stunning canapés showcasing top quality produce from Chefs’ Forum suppliers Walter Rose & Son (Game), Total Produce (Veg) and Majestic Commercial (Wine) . The Michelin-starred morsels from The Gidleigh Park Menu comprised:

• Deer Tartare with Coal Oil, Parsley Emulsion and Coal Powder

• Shitake Mushroom cooked in seaweed tea, mushroom ketchup and beer bubbles with wet walnuts

Wignall then performed two cookery demos, which wowed his peers: Enoki, Watercress, Beer Bubbles, Fermented Garlic, Puff Potato, Wet Walnut and Wiltshire Truffle. Then, hare cannelloni of kohlrabi, best end and loin, baked chocolate, Maitake mushrooms, young parsnips and curry spice.


The students demonstrated to Michael and other prospective employer chefs who attended the event, the great skills (both kitchen and front of house) that they have acquired on their courses with a view to securing apprenticeships in restaurants to further their career. Some of the students said they aspire to join prestigious properties like Gidleigh Park.

Michael Wignall, Executive Chef of Gidleigh Park said: “I was delighted with the level of skill and professionalism demonstrated by the hospitality students whilst they were working in the kitchen with me at Forest Fungi – I enjoy working with young chefs from local colleges and I’m consistently very pleased with the standard of the learners. It was great to see them enjoying themselves today; having a go at clay pigeon shooting and cooking and finishing canapés with me. I am very excited to be working with Scott in the creation of my own growing room at Gidleigh Park”.

Expert shooting coaches from BASC tutored top chefs and catering students in clay pigeon shooting with a view to inviting them to take up shooting game as a sport under the ‘Taste of Game’ initiative, headed up by Annette Cole who gave a very informative speech on sourcing venison responsibly from dealers with a DSC1 deer stalking licence. With further tuition the chefs and students will then have the necessary skills to shoot their own game meat and incorporate it into their menus.


Mark Provan, Programme Coordinator for Hospitality & Catering (South Devon College) said: “The students had a great day today. The Chefs’ Forum events are a great opportunity for them to meet employers, gain new knowledge and network with peers from Hit Training – We all enjoy taking part in the quarterly events – We’re also looking forward to hosting our second Chefs’ Forum event at the college in 2017 with our Academy leader, celebrity chef Mitch Tonks – Again, this will be great work experience for the students making them even more industry-ready on leaving college”.

Maria Cooper, Business Consultant for South Devon & Cornwall added: I find The Chefs’ Forum events very effective for catching up with existing employers with whom we work as well as letting new employers know about our work-based learning programmes. We have had four learners in kitchen today working alongside students from South Devon College. Everyone had a great day and we’re truly honoured to work with such an acclaimed food hero as Michael Wignall.”

Tom Mackins, Chef Proprietor at Restaurant Chapter One, Newquay enjoyed last week’s Chefs’ Forum Big Brunch for Hospitality Action so much that he kindly offered to ‘come up country and out of county’ to showcase Venison Loin on the Monolith Kamado Grill to further demonstrate the ‘hand in glove’ partnership of the Autumnal flavours of venison loin and mushroom.

The Chefs’ Forum aims to enhance the skill sets of top chefs in industry through updating them with the latest techniques being used by their peers – This time, promoting the use of game meat with locally-produced gourmet mushrooms in chefs’ menus – This also motivates and inspires students.