AWARD-WINNING Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant The Ingham Swan is partnering with third-generation farmers, The Tacons, to launch a special initiative rooted in provenance, education and supporting the local economy.
The Norfolk restaurant, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in April, has earmarked land at the nearby farm to grow and manage the majority of its seasonal British produce.
Daniel Smith, Chef Patron at The Ingham Swan, said: “Our vision is to work in tandem with our farm partner The Tacons, to create a meaningful relationship between our food and its environment: To encourage our chefs and growers to work in unison and to educate and engage our customers to understand the relationship between cooking and growing”.
Kitchen staff from the restaurant will have an important role in what’s grown at the nearby farm and will regularly volunteer to select and tend to each crop. By having regular input in the growing process, planting seeds, harvesting and carefully checking every single ingredient by hand, this will enable the chefs to cultivate fresh, traceable produce every time. This approach will be extended to its front of house, where the team will convey the latest farm news to customers while providing information as needed about its fresh, traceable, handmade dishes.
The restaurant plans to engage with diners about how and where the produce is grown and the importance of using fresh, local produce via the restaurant’s blog, website, menus and social media. There are also future plans to introduce a pop-up farm shop at the Ingham Swan, selling fresh produce from its farm at The Tacons.
At the heart of all cooking at The Ingham Swan is seasonality, local produce and with daily changing menus, the restaurant has received praise and plaudits nationwide for serving up modern British cuisine. Daniel Smith continues: “The overall aim of this partnership is to be mindful about how we select what we grow. By having input and a close relationship with The Tacons, who are an extension of our kitchens, we can better understand and place more control over the ingredients we use. The Tacons are the ideal partner, the produce we can grow with them is first-rate and they’re unafraid of trying new things”.
The Tacons Farm in Rollesby near Gt Yarmouth has gained a reputation for supplying a diverse crop offering which followed after a chance broadcast about food trends on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in the 1970s, after which, the family were inspired to branch out and grow asparagus and strawberries.
Charlie Tacon said: “Asparagus were once considered as the vegetable of the wealthy, but we were keen to explore the potential of this market further. My father, who ran the farm at the time, had several adventures in growing the crop, until he mastered the art of asparagus growing. We haven’t looked back since”.
Due to increasingly competitive markets, in recent years, the family farm made a bold move to branch out beyond asparagus, strawberries, potatoes and onions and incorporate a diverse range of produce including specialist crops such as purple broccoli, yellow courgettes, orange cabbages, red and green curly kale and romanesco, in order to cater to foodies via farmers markets and restaurants such as The Ingham Swan. The Tacons now also rent an additional 100-acres of nearby land to meet demand for recent success.
Charlie Tacon continues: “Kitchen staff from The Ingham Swan will be given the freedom to visit the farm as desired and will be asked to help select and plant crops each season. We’re really looking forward to welcoming the team, to share our passion with other food enthusiasts and to fully involve them in the process so they can help shape what’s grown first-hand. Now the season is fully upon us, the first crop we will be working together on is 6-acres of asparagus and an acre of rhubarb”.
Daniel Smith, concludes: “We’re incredibly proud of our Norfolk heritage. This region is a breeding ground for high-quality, local produce and as a result, we believe that the county of Norfolk has every right to be regarded as the foodie capital of the country”.
This important farm initiative will be rolled out across all of the businesses owned and operated by G&D Ventures including the newly acquired The Wildebeest Arms and The Mad Moose.