"Show us your produce" - challenge from Crickhowell innkeeper!
“I have always loved the idea of local food farmers and growers bringing fresh, seasonal produce to the kitchen door of a hotel and seeing what the chefs can do with it,” says Gareth Rowe of The Dragon Inn in Crickhowell High Street. “It’s the way things used to be done, and we would like to do more local specials now. The problem is, we don’t always get to hear about what is being produced on our doorstep.”
The Dragon’s menu is sprinkled with local ingredients, including meat from Cashell’s Butchers just down the road (lamb, beef and pork reared within six miles of town) and locally produced foods. There are cured meats from Trealy Farm charcuterie in Goytre, crackers from Cradocs Savoury Biscuits near Brecon and salmon smoked by Black Mountains Smokery in Crickhowell. Their artisan loaves are from Alex Gooch in Hay on Wye, and their steaks are all from Wales.
Gareth said: “Our ethos is to support local shops and Welsh produce. That’s what Crickhowell is all about; a local, genuine experience. It makes us stand out as a Welsh pub that’s authentic and different from the big chains which churn out mass-produced cheap food day after day. We make an effort to explain where our ingredients come from why we source it in the way we do because it shows people that we are not just buying cheap food and trying to make a huge margin on top.”
“It is a challenge sometimes,” Gareth says “it requires an effort to find the right suppliers and yes, the best quality Welsh food can be more expensive. We could easily source mass-produced, factory-farmed steaks for half the price, but we don’t; people do want the quality and the localness and the Welsh, and they will come back for it time and time again.”
The Dragon’s Head Chef, Lisa Grenfell, is about to start teaching new chefs part-time and says sustainable sourcing is top of her agenda. The Dragon does, however, source some ingredients from wholesalers, mainly fruit and veg, who import from England and Europe. Head Chef Lisa Grenfell says: “Everything we try to do is Welsh wherever possible. We will buy from Primrose organics (near Brecon), but sometimes he won’t always have what we need. When you are serving as many people as we do, you can’t afford to run out of fruit and veg. With PJ Jones (Goytre-based fruit and veg wholesaler) I can put my order in and know it will be delivered the next day. Consistency of supply is very important too.”
The Dragon are introducing a specials menu and have recruited a new Chef Gavin Kellett – National Chef of Wales 2019 to be an inspiration for it. Gareth Rowe said: “We would like to fill our specials menu with local seasonal produce. Our problem is that we don’t always know who is out there, so we want to talk to local producers. Our message to them is ‘show us your produce and see what we can do with it.”
Article and photographs by Tim Jones, As You See It Media
The Dragon InnEatery
|Address||47 High St, Crickhowell NP8 1BE|
|We sell/serve locally made food from|