Yeo Valley Canteen started life as our staff restaurant, but everyone loved it so much, and we’re looking over such a beautiful spot, we thought it only right to open it to the public. It has been a huge hit – especially our foodie events, like Pop-Up Suppers, and Demi Demos.
We take good food very seriously here in the valley, and everything we serve is made with produce that’s local, sustainable, seasonal and organic. As with our ever increasing dairy range, if we can buy our ingredients in the UK, we will – even if they cost more – the beef and dairy used in our Canteen will only ever be our own, organic produce and we use seasonal vegetables from our organic garden, as well as local community growing initiatives.
We spoke with Head Chef Paul Collins about suppliers, dairy, and more dairy.
What do you think makes food good?
I think a connection to the producer. My job is the easy part, I just have to source good food and cook it nicely – its finding the right supplier and doing the food justice..
What are the three reasons people should vote for you?
1. As a business we are supporting hundreds of British, and particularly South West, farmers, something we think is absolutely critical. It’s too easy to pick up the phone and order stuff without worrying where it comes from. We really are walking the walk.
2. Our relationship with our suppliers is so good that we change the menu at the drop of a hat depending on the what fabulous produce they want to supply us and whatever they grow, we make it sexy on the plate.
3. We’re fun and accessible – it’s a staff canteen that we’ve opened up to the public so you can sit down and eat your lunch with the marketing people or even the owners and you just can’t do that anywhere else.
What is your signature dish
It has to be our blade of beef – it’s slowly braised overnight at a really low temperature and we serve it simply with creamed potatoes and kale – it’s so good.
What’s the one ingredient you couldn’t do without?
Dairy!!! Our Yeo Valley yoghurts and butter.
Smaller portions or doggy bags?
Doggy bags – everyone has a different appetite and my job as chef is to put delicious food out at the right price and if they can’t finish it I’m delighted if they want to take it home.
We also offer a take-away service to staff at the end of the day, so we can even share the love with the families of Yeo Valley staff.
Meat or veg?
I’ve got to say meat because of the stories of our own animals – all of our beef, lamb, pork and veal is organic.
Living Wage or bigger tips
As a business, I think it should be Living Wage.
Describe the philosophy of the restaurant in three words
Rustic, homely and real.
Describe what it would mean for your restaurant to be voted the People’s Favourite
It’s recognition from the public that what we’re doing is being received and the message is getting out there. It would be recognition of a journey that began a year and half ago with the canteen, it’s what the Meads have done for years and that what we are doing is real.
Who’s the most important member of your team and why?
Sheik, the Kitchen Porter, has been with us from the start. It’s not the most glamorous role, but he always smiles and keeps us in coffee all day. He is integral to what we’re doing.