On Thursday 25 February, Dart Fresh HQ in Exeter played host to a series of socially-distanced, Covid-safe, cookery demos to showcase their fabulous range of local poultry and fine ingredients. Dart Fresh has always aimed to be a one-stop-shop for chefs; to be able to give them everything they need to make their lives easier with making just one order and therefore one delivery.

Second generation costermonger and Director, John Pritchard, was delighted to host a day of culinary excellence and really enjoyed working with the visiting chefs showcasing his produce. He said “This is a great chance to showcase the journey of where we’ve come from as a fruit and vegetable company in 1957, working with the supermarkets, to becoming an all-encompassing foodservice company and now introducing an online home delivery offer with the onset of the pandemic, which is proving really popular.”

This was the second of a series of culinary focus days to be held by Dart Fresh, in association with The Chefs’ Forum, to showcase the vast range of meat, fish, fresh fruit and veg, fine foods and cooks’ ingredients available to top chefs and now, retail customers online.

John and the team are delighted to be supporting chefs at this difficult time and keeping them up to date with all the latest moves at Dart Fresh, and in the industry, to enhance and enrich the vast product range in preparation for the return of hospitality, as chefs set to work on menu planning and sourcing fantastic produce for their kitchens. They continue to supply fantastic fresh and locally sourced ingredients to chefs currently offering take-away menus as well as chefs and cooks across the care, education and hospital sectors six days a week.

Some of the produce used in the culinary focus day included Beech Ridge Farm Poultry, Truefoods fresh stock, Burren Balsamics Apple Infused White Condiment, Foie Royale, Truffle Hunter Truffle Sea Salt and the finest fresh seasonal vegetables from local growers across Devon.

Charlotte Vincent, Head Chef of The Five Bells (Clyst Hydon), Slawomir Drozdzalski, Executive Chef of Puffing Billy (Exton) & The Blue Ball and Werner Hartholt, Development Chef at Butlins (Minehead), part of the Bourne Leisure Group were invited down to the depot in Marsh Barton (Exeter) to cook their signature dishes on a purpose-built stage.

Charlotte Vincent was first up on The Chefs’ Forum demo stage (sadly without an audience due to current restrictions) to create a film of her signature recipe: Beech Ridge Farm free range duck breast with Foie Royale (the ethical alternative to foie gras), fresh blackberries, a blackberry gel, seasonal greens and Charlotte’s special chicken stock and redcurrant jus. Charlotte said “It was great to visit Dart Fresh as one of my favourite suppliers.  John Pritchard is always so supportive of everything I do and it is great to see where all the magic happens in supplying me with all I need for ‘The Five Bells At Home’. My home meal kits prepared at The Five Bells have proved a real hit with our customers throughout both lockdowns. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I cook a three-course menu that customers collect in a box from The Five Bells and finish at home with my detailed instructions.”

Next up was Slav and his partner Anne-Marie Rice, who joined forces to cook a duo of dishes on the demo stage; Slav, a chef recipe, and Anne-Marie, a home-cooked family dish for the home delivery customers to garner inspiration. Slav cooked a Cornish Smoked sea salt potato croquette with Beech Ridge free range duck breast, pak choi and sweet potato purée. Slav expertly blow-torched the duck skin to achieve a crispy finish which went so well with the succulent breast meat. He said "I think this is some of the best duck breast I have ever eaten and to know it’s from a farm just a few miles down the road is fantastic news! I have worked all around the world and pride myself on preparing fine food with global influence.  It was great to play with the excellent ingredients at Dart Fresh today and great that Anne-Marie could join in and have some fun cooking which made a change from her profession as a sports therapist!"

Anne-Marie’s dish was more designed at the home cook, but still extremely flavoursome. It was Grenadine chicken with rice and kidney beans – a wholesome and hearty dish using local free range Beech Ridge chicken to feed a family at home. Dart fresh have a thriving home delivery business and this recipe will be used to create a recipe card any household.

Werner then rounded-up a day of brilliant cookery demos with his favourite dish of Lontong Ayam Seku, an Indonesian speciality of compressed sticky rice, Beech Ridge Farm chicken cooked in coconut sauce with a tomato sambal and stir-fried vegetables. He was delighted to have been invited to Dart Fresh HQ to see the extensive range of local produce on offer, he said “It was great to be able to cook with such high quality locally-sourced chicken. This dish is absolutely delicious and was made even better with the excellent ingredients provided. It is always fantastic to meet local suppliers and see their operations when sourcing ingredients for our busy kitchens. In normal peak times we do over ten thousand meals per day at Butlins in Minehead, so it was a brilliant opportunity to have a socially-distanced tour of the depot and meet the team behind Dart Fresh in advance of my return to work next week.”

Next month’s culinary focus day will see an emphasis on butchery showcasing top quality Dartmoor beef and lamb and the line-up of top local chefs will be announced shortly!

For more information on Dart Fresh, ingredients for chefs and the new online home delivery service, visit www.dartfresh.co.uk