Category Archives: Food & Drink


The 2017 prestigious South West Chef of the Year competition is open for applications. The highly anticipated culinary contest is the only one in the UK with the aim of finding the very best regional talent from not one but five categories including professional and young professional chefs, students and apprentices, junior cooks under 16 years and home cooks. The South West’s culinary reputation has long been lauded, shaped by its bountiful lands and coastline that create outstanding produce and in turn inspire an increasingly long list of home-grown, Michelin-starred chefs. The peninsula’s passion for delicious and sustainably sourced food and drink is recognised and nurtured by the South West Chef of the Year as it aims once again to find the region’s hottest talent.

Lead judge, Michael Caines MBE of Lympstone Manor, who has championed the competition since 2004, said: “South West Chef of the Year has always aimed to not only provide a springboard for the region’s emerging chefs but also to inspire home cooks of all ages and to help young people to make cooking a career choice. I have always said that the South West is home to some of the best food in the world but the industry always needs new blood and I invite all those with a passion for cooking, for wonderful ingredients and the produce we have in abundance here in the region to enter South West Chef of the Year. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn, to improve and be challenged.”

Michael added, “Exmoor has an amazing larder ranging from venison, lamb and beef from our North Devon cattle, all the way to seafood from the coastline. This produce enables us to produce high-quality dishes.”

Michael will be joined by an impressive list of judges from the region’s most esteemed venues, including Michael Wignall of Gidleigh Park and Chris and James Tanner of Barbican Kitchen and Kentish Hare. The judges will be looking for competitors who display the highest standards of cooking as well as flair and creativity. The competition is renowned for its mentorship of contestants, with those entering the final rounds receiving invaluable feedback in a supportive environment.

Entry to the first round of the competition opened on 1 June with four of the five categories now taking online applications until 31 July at Those interested in applying should devise and submit a two-course menu that includes the compulsory ingredients set for their category.

The Professional Chefs category includes those working as a sous chef, pastry chef or above. Menus submitted for this category should include saddle of lamb (on the bone) and pollack and mussels. ‘Young Professional Chefs’ entering the competition includes those working in any position up to and including junior sous chef and aged 19 to 24 years. Their compulsory ingredients are pork tenderloin and red mullet.

‘Student and Apprentice Chefs’ are those at college or in an apprenticeship and aged 16 to 19 years; their menus should include beef sirloin (untrimmed) and John Dory and clams or cockles. Finally, those entering the Home Cooks Class (those who have never worked or trained in the catering industry aged from 16 years) must create a menu that includes a main course of best end of lamb or sea bass and a dessert with fruits of the autumn (apples, pears, quince, berries).

Those selected by the judges to go through to the next round will be asked to recreate their menus at semi-finals and finals taking place in September and October.

Entry is via an online entry form available at by the deadline of Monday 31 July 2017.


Spring is in the air at Barnstaple Pannier Market with the return of Monday markets and an Easter eggstravaganza.

Monday markets make a return on Monday 3 April, offering even more opportunity to visit the town’s unique indoor market. With a wide variety of stalls, including fresh local produce, books, gifts, clothing, crafts and antiques, the market will be open six days a week from April until Christmas, with many Sunday events throughout the year.

On Saturday 15 April, the Easter bunny will be making a special visit to hand out mini chocolate eggs to our young visitors, and there will be an eggciting Easter Egg hunt around the market. Then, between 11am and 1pm, Borderline morris dancers will be performing and Dave Hendy will be doing magic around the market.

Executive Member for Economic Development, Councillor Pat Barker, says: “Spring has definitely sprung at the market with the return of Monday markets and the annual egg hunt.  Please do come along and support the market and enjoy the free family entertainment on Easter Saturday.”

Local ward member for Barnstaple (central town), Councillor Adam Bradford says, “I am delighted that there are now even more opportunities and reasons for us all to enjoy this lively and unique space. We are all looking forward to Easter!”

To keep up to date with the Pannier Market’s news and events, head over to Facebook and like their page:



Kentisbury Grange Hotel and The Coach House by Michael Caines took home two gold awards for Restaurant of The Year and Small Hotel of The Year at the 2016/17 South West Tourism Awards.

Over the last two years Kentisbury Grange Hotel and on-site restaurant, The Coach House by Michael Caines, have brought home eight gold awards in the county and regional awards.

In November 2016, the hotel and restaurant were awarded gold for Small Hotel of the Year and Restaurant of the Year in the Devon Tourism Awards for the second year in a row. The South West Tourism Awards in February saw the Devon businesses going head to head with the top businesses in the South West and winning gold in the same categories – also for the second year running.

Peter Farquhar, General Manager at Kentisbury Grange, said of the awards: “WOW – what can I say? We are lost for words. To have won gold again this year, with so many other outstanding businesses entering the awards, is incredible. I’m so very proud of the outstanding team we have here – without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

The team at Kentisbury Grange and The Coach House by Michael Caines are looking forward to the year ahead and have recently welcomed a new Head Chef, James Mason, to the helm. James also has an award or two under his belt, including South West Young Professional Chef of the Year 2015.

Michael Caines said: “We are absolutely delighted that our hard work and investment has been recognised through such prestigious awards. The two gold medals are a great tribute to the hard work of our talented teams lead by Martin Robinson and Tom Hine who was recently replaced by Head Chef James Mason.”

Foodies are eagerly awaiting the launch of Michael Caines’ first country house hotel and restaurant, Lympstone Manor, opening on 3 April 2017. Located between Exeter and Exmouth, the Georgian mansion will be transformed into a 21 bedroom hotel and 60 seat fine dining restaurant.


To be ranked among the top tea brands for four years in a row is quite an achievement for the West Country based family business, Miles Tea & Coffee. ‘Best Brands’ magazine have just issued the 16/17 edition showing that Miles is now ranked as the second most popular brand for independent retailers to stock in the UK. Miles has moved up two places since first being voted in the top five brands.

John Halls, Operations Director, said, “This is a brilliant recognition for Food and Drink producers in Somerset and the West Country. This is just the kind of positive news we need to kick start another season. We have also had a good year with stores such as Tesco seeing an increase of 20% in the sales of Miles Tea and Hot Chocolate. We hope next time we might make the top spot in Best Brands.”

So how has Miles outranked the giant brands in the tea market? John says, “It’s down to our heritage and quality. We’ve got a genuine story to tell of family tradition along with great-tasting blends. A recent survey shows customers try our products and then stay brand loyal, that’s a good indication of our consistent quality. The Somerset coastal location is very important with our secret ingredient being ‘West Country warmth!’”

PHOTO: D J Miles in a photo that was included in our profile article back in the autumn of 2011 and which is reproduced below. Click on each image to expand and read.

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Exmoor diners wishing to eat out for less next month (February, 2017) can do so thanks to a scheme designed to help showcase the region’s top chefs, suppliers and producers.

As part of the Exmoor Food Fest, restaurants across the area are offering specially priced menus, on selected days during February, to help encourage people to sample some home-grown talent.

Executive Chef, Sam Salway at The Jubilee Inn at West Anstey near South Molton, which is one of the leading establishments participating in the event, said: “We’re delighted once again to be taking part in the 2017 Exmoor Food Fest, which takes place all over the Moor from 1 to 28 February.

“It’s the third annual event of its kind and a wonderful way of showcasing the very best the region has to offer. It is a celebration of local produce and talent, which we’re very passionate about here at The Jubilee Inn. Exmoor is home to many outstanding local products such as venison and Exmoor Caviar to name just two!”

The Jubilee Inn pub, restaurant and boutique hotel, which Sam co-owns with Claire Sellar-Elliott and family, will be running a special Exmoor Food Festival Menu on Tuesday to Thursday lunchtimes with two courses priced £10 and three courses £15.

Sam added: “We always strive to use as much produce as possible from regional or local suppliers who can provide us with quality local produce, which is fully traceable. We are already taking bookings for the Food Festival Menu and our own special menus for February as our customers have learned that often, we are unable to accommodate those without reservations and we are set for a really busy period!  It’s all hands-on deck, or ‘all hands-on prep’ as we say in the kitchen!”

The Exmoor Food Fest runs throughout February and is organised by Elke Winzer. She said: “The Exmoor Food Fest helps local businesses in the hospitality sector to show off their skills. The festival deal of two courses for £10 tempts many people into restaurants at a time of year when business tends to be slow. Diners can download and print off a voucher to present at their chosen participating restaurant to qualify for the offer.

“For the first time this year all participating restaurants will also take part in the Taste of Exmoor Awards. Customers will be able to vote online for their best dining experience – the winners will be crowned at an awards ceremony at Butlins in Minehead at the end of March.

Elke added: “Tearooms and village shops are also encouraged to sign up for the Exmoor Food Fest too.”

Information about all the restaurants signed up for the Exmoor Food Fest can be found at

The Jubilee Inn was taken on by Claire and her family in 2012. After having spent three years closed, they fully refurbished and re-launched it in 2015 with Sam’s help, and now after extensive renovations they are rejuvenating its fortunes.

She said: “We’ve created a successful restaurant and boutique B&B with an excellent reputation for ambience, customer service and fabulous food.  We’re open throughout the week except Mondays, serving seasonal dishes with ingredients sourced from nearby. We also have six beautiful and individual hotel rooms that are all luxurious and inviting. We wanted to create a real home from home atmosphere, with all the little extra luxuries!”

All the bedrooms are ‘uniquely different’. They have en suite bathrooms with showers and beds with Vi-Spring mattresses and crisp linens.

Claire added: “We provide our guests with luxurious accommodation, fabulous fine dining in our restaurant or classic comfort food in our bar. All our dishes are cooked to perfection, feature local and regional seasonal produce and are accompanied by fine wines and ales.”

“As a family-run inn, we treat all our guests warmly and respect their needs and requirements, whether they are here for a meal, a celebration, a weekend of country pursuits or have come for a quiet, romantic weekend away for two. We’re also exceptionally family-orientated and can cater for babies and young children to order.  As a parent myself, I know how important it is when going out with children to have them prioritised, so everyone has an enjoyable time so there are colouring books, pencils, board games and activities on hand here to keep them happy and contented!”

For further details about The Jubilee Inn, which is on B3227 at West Anstey near South Molton, or the wishing tree, please call 01398 341401 or visit

PHOTO: Executive Chef, Sam Salway at The Jubilee Inn at West Anstey near South Molton, which is participating in the 2017 Exmoor Food Fest, with co-owner Claire Sellar-Elliott.


The popular Real Ale and Cider event returns to RHS Garden Rosemoor between 23 -25 September and will feature a range of interesting, unusual and eminently quaffable real ales from near and far – plus ciders too – all served direct from the barrel.

Many of the ales are from local micro breweries, plus a number of ciders too. More of a wine drinker? Then small, independent vineyards from Devon and Cornwall will be present giving tastings and expert advice on growing and cultivation of vines. Visitors who are driving can sample the beers at home too with the handy carry out packs available. There will be ‘meet the brewer’ and beer appreciation sessions, Family ‘pub style’ games complete the line up for a fun and social weekend.

The weekend is supported by the North Devon branch of CAMRA and volunteers will be on site each day to serve the beer and talk to visitors about the range on offer of both ale and cider.

It’s also a great opportunity to explore the garden as the stunning late summer colours start turning into amazing autumn ones.

The event runs from 12noon – 5pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Normal garden admission applies (free for RHS Members). For more information on RHS Garden Rosemoor visit


Foodfest, North Devon’s biggest celebration of local food and drink, is back and exhibitors are being urged to get in quick to secure their place at the event.

Online bookings are now being accepted for the annual festival, which is now in its ninth year. The event takes place on Sunday 16 October at Barnstaple Pannier Market and will feature over 100 exhibitors and five top chefs from some of North Devon’s best local restaurants.

The chef demo stage will again take place in the Queen’s Theatre and will welcome a host of top local chefs cooking some of their favourite recipes, as well giving hints, top tips and talking about how local ingredients influence their cooking.

Executive Member for economic development, Councillor Pat Barker, says: “The Foodfest goes from strength to strength and is now a firm favourite in the local foodie calendar. Last year over 10,000 people visited throughout the day, which is a fantastic boost for the local economy. I expect space to be snapped up, so if your business is interested in taking part, get in quick if you want to be part of North Devon’s hottest food event of the year.”

Barnstaple Town Centre Manager, Hannah Harrington, says: “I am really excited that Barnstaple Town Centre Management is hosting this year’s event, which I am sure will be as busy and as popular as ever. It is a great opportunity to showcase and celebrate the best of our local food and drink and it will, as always, help promote our area and support local suppliers, growers and traders.”

The closing date for exhibitors to apply for a stand is Monday 1 August. Complete an online form at or contact Hannah Harrington or Isabelle Bronham for more information, by emailing or phoning 01271 321049.



Secret Orchard Cider,, a craft producer based in Exmoor National Park, has been awarded a prestigious Silver Medal at The British Cider Championships – the biggest cider competition in Europe – which took place at The Bath and West Show this month.

Co-founders Joe Heley and Todd Studley were thrilled to be awarded second place in the Dry Cider category in a blind tasting; with over 600 entries to the championships this year, competition to impress the expert panel of judges was fierce.

Todd commented: “This is the first year we have put our ciders in for competitions, and we were overjoyed to gain national recognition the first time around. It makes all the hard work worthwhile, and has spurred us on to dream of even bigger things!”

Todd and Joe, who both grew up in Minehead, have been making cider at The Nettlecombe Estate for four years; production has grown year-on-year, leading to an expanding range and an increasing list of local stockists.

The cider is made using 100% apple juice and small-batch production methods; fermentation uses wild yeasts and a low intervention approach is taken, allowing the quality of the fruit to remain at the forefront of the signature Secret Orchard style.

Joe explained the levels of work required: “We have hand-picked almost every apple ourselves, with some help from friends and family. We have pressed every single batch, and watched over each barrel as it slowly matures. That is why this award means so much to us. It goes without saying that we’ll be having a cider or two to celebrate…”.

The silver medal was awarded for the Dry 2015 Secret Orchard Cider, which has just been released and is now available to buy – a sweet version is also available.

This latest vintage features a label by local graphic designer Carl Lewis of Carlos Design; the design was inspired by Czech Art Nouveau pioneer Alphonse Mucha.

Joe said: “We always work with local artists on our branding, and have previously been lucky enough to have a label designed by Leo Davey, an award-winning artist and illustrator based in Minehead.”

Buoyed by their awards success, Joe and Todd are busy taking their cider bar to local events and food festivals, investing in new equipment and working hard to keep a growing list of stockists supplied.

For more information visit , where the 2015 vintage is available to buy online.

For the latest updates, follow Secret Orchard Cider on Facebook at, or on Twitter @Secret_Orchard.

Secret Orchard Cider is based on the historic Nettlecombe Estate, where ancient walled orchards are surrounded by rolling hills – the oak trees here were specially chosen for the English fleet which defeated the Spanish Armada.

The cider is made from 100% apple juice, sourced from orchards where no chemicals have been used. No concentrated syrups are used and wild yeasts provide a natural and slow fermentation. All Secret Orchard ciders are aged for close to a year to ensure proper flavour development.

Current stockists include Pebbles Tavern in Watchet; The Yarn Market Hotel, Reeves Restaurant and The Village Shop & Deli – all in Dunster; The Old Ship Aground in Minehead, and, in Cornwall, Scarlet Wines in Lelant and Senara Restaurant in Penzance.

PHOTO: Todd (right) and Joe (left).



Secret Orchard Cider, a small-batch cider produced on the historic Nettlecombe Estate, has received its very first listing on tap – at CAMRA’s Somerset ‘Cider Pub of the Year.’

Pebbles Tavern in Watchet is currently the only place where cider enthusiasts can enjoy a freshly-pulled pint of the artisan tipple, which is made from 100% juice using wild yeasts and fruit from a single year’s harvest.

The entrepreneurs behind the Secret Orchard brand – Joe Heley and Todd Studley – were at Pebbles to enjoy the first pints pulled, and to toast this milestone on their journey to becoming one of Exmoor’s finest exports.

Joe commented: “It’s a really proud moment for us. We’ve been bottling our cider for three years now and every year sales have increased. To be on tap, especially in such a well-respected cider pub as Pebbles, is a major achievement.”

The walled orchards of Nettlecombe Estate are located within Exmoor National Park just 4 miles from Watchet; Todd and Joe harvest traditional Somerset cider varieties from the ancient trees, and also gather fruit in return for pruning trees on other local orchards.

Todd said: “All our apples are hand-picked, and Joe and I have pressed every single batch ourselves. It’s great to know that all that hard work is paying off, and that people are enjoying Secret Orchard straight from the pump.”

Pebbles Tavern is well known as a great place to enjoy a wide range of carefully selected ciders and real ales; the traditional and friendly tavern has won multiple awards over the years, including the CAMRA Somerset Branch ‘Cider Pub of the Year’ in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Owner Ben ­Allen was excited to be the first to offer Secret Orchard Cider on tap, commenting: “It’s a delicious cider with great local provenance. I know that Joe and Todd work really hard to maintain quality and consistency, and I’m pleased to be able to support small-batch cider-makers like these guys.”

The 2015 Vintage is also about to be released in bottle with a sweet and dry version available; the harvest was particularly good in terms of both yield and quality, which bodes well for cider drinkers during the summer ahead.

Joe and Todd will also be taking part in several food festivals and other events this year – details can be found at or on Facebook

pebbles tavern first pageRegular readers of Exmoor Magazine will have seen our profile of Pebbles, written by Adrian Tierney Jones, with photography by Andrew Hobbs, in the winter issue just gone (turn to pages 43-44 of your back issue to read more or click on the images below to read).




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The Duck Café at Wimbleball opened its doors on Saturday 5 March and immediately ticked lots of boxes with visitors to the South West Lakes Trust’s famous beauty spot.

The café and shop sells the best of local food and gifts and is focusing on a fresh, seasonal menu which will change regularly. More than 80 customers enjoyed Saturday’s menu with the Whortleberry Jam Exmoor Cream Tea and The Duck signature Beef Burger selling out.

The café and shop have been set up under licence by local food enthusiasts and good friends Ellie Street and Michele Maltby who both live nearby. Ellie is a professional cook and Michele is already in business on Exmoor.

Ellie said, “I always walked my dogs at Wimbleball and I kept saying to Michele what a fantastic spot for us to have a café. We are delighted the opportunity came along. We will be developing what we offer as we learn more about what our customers would like us to cook and sell.”

Alex Forster, Exmoor Countryside Manager, said, “I am really impressed with the transformation Michelle and Ellie have made. The Duck is really cosy now. I’ve also tried the cake already and can vouch that it’s delicious! We are confident that it will encourage even more visitors to this area, which is truly beautiful.”

The café and shop have been redesigned to have a relaxing but stylish feel. The Duck at Wimbleball will be open for the next 3 weekends and will then open 5 days a week from 23 March, including Easter Monday.

Donna Saunders, Catering and Hospitality Manager for South West Lakes Trust said, “I would like to take this opportunity to wish Ellie and Michele the very best of luck.  I know how passionate you are about The Duck and have no doubt that it will be a great success.”

For more information call 01398 371257 or follow ‘The Duck Café’ on Facebook and on Twitter – @duckwimbleball.