‘Local produce’ is a term bandied around so much these days that it’s started to lose meaning. All too often it’s followed by ‘where possible’, which gives no clue as to how much actually does come from nearby, and the definition of the word ‘local’ is pretty vague – for some it can mean down the road, for others within the surrounding counties. However, one chef that’s always championed provenance as one of the most important aspects of a menu is Emily Watkins, chef-proprietor of The Kingham Plough in Oxfordshire.
Being based in the Cotswolds countryside means there are plenty of farmers nearby to supply Emily’s kitchen with what they need. But the one she seems particularly passionate about is Holmleigh Dairy, a small family-owned business that sells Jersey and Geurnsey milk and butter to the local area.
‘I first found out about Holmleigh by accident – the way you usually find out about good suppliers,’ she says. ‘For the past nine years, we’ve run a farmers’ market in the Plough’s car park to bring our customers and producers together. We were one of the first to namecheck our suppliers on our menus, and I don’t think people really believed they were real! A cheesemaker called Roger Crudge who lives opposite the pub always had a stall there, and he introduced me to Holmleigh’s butter. I was so taken with it that I started working with them the day after.’