Local business donates scholarship for West Somerset College’s hospitality student

Rosemary Overall and Tony O'Shaughnassy from The Culbone.  Photo by Steve Quantick

Rosemary Overall and Tony O’Shaughnassy from The Culbone.
Photo by Steve Quantick

Last week, West Somerset College’s hospitality student Rosemary Overall was presented with the inaugural The Culbone Scholarship for Hospitality Student of the Year.

Rosemary, who is in her last year at The Combe training restaurant in Minehead, was chosen for her commitment and keen interest, both in the kitchen and front of house.
A few months ago, Tony O’Shaughnassy, the owner of The Culbone on Porlock Hill, had contacted the The Combe to find a way to support outstanding students in the hospitality sector, to help develop young people in an industry which is so vital to Exmoor.  Finally, the idea for the scholarship was born, a suitable student found and the scholarship’s finer details developed.
“We think that the College’s hospitality course is outstanding. The food prepared by the students is amazing.  We see The Culbone as at the heart of the community, and helping young people excel is very close to our heart,” explained Tony. “Rosemary is a very worthy recipient of our scholarship, and we look forward to catching up with Rosemary in London in September.”
Tony presented Rosemary with a certificate in The Combe in the presence of Paul Gibbs, Acting Faculty Leader, and Werner Hartholt, Chef Lecturer.  The scholarship will take her to the London School for Wine and Spirits in September to do a two-week WSET Level 3 course.  It also covers travel, accommodation, pocket money and dinner with Somerset Life’s Food Editor, Susan Clark, in one of London’s top restaurants.

Paul Gibbs commented: “We are very grateful to The Culbone for their generous support for Rosemary.  Rosemary has impressed us with her dedication and hard work, both in the kitchen and front of house. This course will be of great benefit to her future career.”
The Combe students will join The Culbone team for a special event later this year.

IMG_5637

Werner Hartholz (Chef Lecturer), Paul Gibbs (Acting Faculty Leader), Rosemary Overall, Tony O’Shaughnassy (The Culbone)

Reeves Restaurant review: Dunster, West Somerset

DSC_0591DSC_0584

Occupying a prime position on Dunster High Street within a stone’s throw of the historic Yarn Market, you will find a most excellent eatery, Reeves Restaurant.  Owned and managed by Justin & Claire Reeves, they have built for themselves an enviable reputation.  Before I turned up for the review, I asked a few locals what they thought.  They all with one accord sang the most excellent praises about this popular restaurant: a relaxed atmosphere, amazing food and a warm and friendly welcome.

Well, I have to say that was the experience of our night.  It was a fine summer’s evening and we were ushered out to the rear garden to relax whilst our table was being prepared.  Enjoying the still, tranquil summer air, we were served drinks and olives as we sat by the shrubs and scented flower beds in anticipation.

It wasn’t long before Claire Reeves emerged to take our order.  There was no scribing on a waitress order pad but instead, she effortlessly committed the exact details of our order to memory and relayed the pertinent details to her husband and Head Chef Justin, in the kitchen.

Once our table was ready, we re-entered the restaurant and sat down at our cosy, corner table.  From here we could rather interestingly observe the eating habits of our fellow diners.  Well you need to do something to while away the time don’t you?  Homemade bread and a large, beautifully crafted butter rosette were placed on the table.  This kicked the evening’s dining off to an excellent start.

Our wine of choice for the night was a favourite of mine: Argentinian Malbec at a whopping 13.5%.  For those of you out there that are still drinking the Merlot and Shiraz, I implore you to try this little gem from South America.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.  Laden with mouth-watering flavour and aromas, it is everything a red wine should be: full bodied and satisfying.

It wasn’t long before my seafood starter made an appearance.  I’d ordered the Fritto Misto (fried seafood and vegetables) of sea bass, squid, crab cake, tiger prawns and scallop… served with a trio of dips.  Talking of which, the dips were stylishly served in something akin to white ceramic teaspoons.  This gathering of seafood not only set the taste buds alight, but the plate was truly a picture!  Justin’s creative flair was truly something to savour – literally.

DSC_0593DSC_0600

The main dish was the sumptuous Garlic and rosemary and lamb rump with root vegetable crisps, fennel puree and a redcurrant and mint jus.  Now I really adore the taste of lamb and I can tell you that this did not disappoint.  Succulent and loaded with flavour; all the additions on the plate just complemented the dish perfectly.  I was now beginning to understand why Reeves has got such a solid local reputation.

It is at this point that I should add that Justin cannot take all the credit for the amazing food being churned out of the kitchen of Reeves Restaurant.  Working alongside him was the very young, but talented Abbie Smith.  During the attainment of her NVQ catering qualification with Barbara Hancock of West Somerset College, Minehead, she has recently won both the Eat Exmoor and Eat Somerset cookery competitions.  For her efforts, Abbie scooped the coveted ‘Chef of the Year’ for the West Somerset region.

We moved inexorably towards dessert and it was at this point, rather interestingly, we were offered a drinks menu containing whiskeys, liqueurs, coffees and… pudding wine.  What a great idea (other restaurants please take note)!  It is so rare that you are offered dessert wine, and this was fabulous surprise.  After some quick deliberations, I opted for the enchanting and mysterious Elysium dark Muscat.

The Grand finale came in the truly lovely form of the Date and apple sticky toffee pudding, clotted cream and salted caramel sauce.  Well I chose this because I love to try different sticky toffee puddings, clotted cream is a must as a long time Devonian, and for me salted caramel is the big must do flavour invading our shores from across the Atlantic currently.  I have to say that the Muscat was a perfect accompaniment and I enjoyed and savoured every last drop…

All in all, the entire experience was virtually faultless from start to finish and one I hope to repeat in the not too distant future.  The Somerset village of Dunster is replete with great places to eat but Reeves Restaurant is an absolute must.  And I think, like the loyal locals, you’ll be returning again and again.

John Raby

DSC_0607DSC_0596

Exmoor Food Fest has launched!

The Exmoor Food Fest was launched with great success on Wednesday, 28 January, at The Combe, the training restaurant at the Skills & Enterprise Centre (West Somerset College, Minehead) when Michelin star chefs Mark Dodson, Thomas Carr , Andrew Dixon and  Richard Boggie cooked an amazing five course dinner with the Combe’s hospitality students for invited guests.

Richard Boggie was in charge of the Amuse Bouche , Mackerel ceviche, wasabi and Exmoor Caviar, which set the tone for an amazing feast. The former Combe student who left the College two years ago, is now Chef de Partie at the renowned Bath Priory.

Mark Dodson, whose restaurant Masons Arms in Knowstone holds one Michelin star, followed with a starter of tuna on Chinese cabbage.   Thomas Carr,former headchef at Nathan Outlaw’s restaurant and now owner of The Olive Room in Ilfracombe, followed with Exmoor rump of beef, tongue and Jacobs ladder pie, 
 herb dumpling, ginger carrot and, for the vegetarian guests, truffle and potato terrine, crispy free range hens egg and 
 pickled mushroom dressing .

Guests were then treated to a pre-dessert by Richard Boggie, set Tonka bean cream, apple caramel and cider, followed by Andrew Dixon’s (The Cafe at Porlock Weir) apple tart tatin
.

“Great students, great food, great evening”, commented Mark Dodson on Twitter.

Hollie Borland, reporter for the Somerset County Gazette tweeted “What an amazing evening put on @The_Combe_Mhead by #WestSomCol students too for the #ExmoorFoodFest launch #poshnosh”.

Martin Hesp, editor-at-large for the Western Morning News, tweeted “Been to amazing launch of #ExmoorFoodFest tonight – thanks students of #WestSomersetCollege and chef tutors.”  This was seconded by Somerset Life editor Charlotte Skidmore who also tweeted “What amazing food at the launch of #ExmoorFoodFest”.

It was a brilliant experience for the hospitality students who all enjoyed working with these top chefs. One student tweeted to the chefs “Thank you for tonight in the kitchen. Amazing experience in there to watch what you all do!”

The Masons Arms, The Olive Room , The Cafe at Porlock Weir and The Combe all take part in the Exmoor Food Fest during February, offering the deal of 2 courses for £10.00/ 3 courses for £15.00.  Please check on their pages on what days this offer is available.

To see some of the photos Clayton Jane took at the launch, please pop over to exmoorfoodfest.com

 

 

Media Release: Exmoor Food Fest celebrates local food & venues during February 2015

 

cropped-taste-of-exmoor-2

Exmoor.– The first Exmoor Food Fest will come to Exmoor in February 2015, celebrating everything Exmoor has to offer.
For a whole month, outstanding restaurants across the region will be offering 2 courses for £10.00 and 3 courses for £15.00 to give locals and visitors alike the opportunity to sample dishes prepared with excellent local produce.

Customers will be able to pick up vouchers for the Exmoor Food Fest “Tenner Deal” at participating restaurants or download them online. As an extra incentive to visit as many of the restaurants as possible, customers will receive a passport which will be stamped every time they order an “Exmoor Food Fest Deal”. Once the passport is full it will be entered into a draw for a Taste of Exmoor hamper.

The Exmoor Food Fest will be launched on 28 January 2015 at The Combe, a training restaurant based at the Skills and Enterprise Centre in the grounds of West Somerset College Minehead. Local chefs Mark Dodson (Masons Arms Knowstone), Thomas Carr (The Olive Room, Ilfracombe), Andrew Dixon (The Cafe Porlock Weir) and former student Richard Boggie (now Chef de Partie at Bath Priory) will be cooking a five-course-menu with the hospitality students for invited guests.

The grand finale of the Exmoor Food Fest is taking place at Minehead Harbour on 28 February in conjunction with the first Family Angling Day. Street Food Traders will give the harbour a village feel, inviting people to stroll around the harbour, watch the anglers and taste delicious food. A local produce and craft fair will take place at The Beach Hotel in Minehead where chefs like Mark Dodson will do cooking demonstrations throughout the day. Other venues along the seafront will also join in the celebration. Street artists and entertainment complete the recipe for a great family day out.

Andrew Dixon, owner and Chef at The Café at Porlock Weir, came up with the idea of the Exmoor Food Fest to promote the many outstanding food venues across the region.
“Exmoor has so much to offer, but February tends to be a very quiet time for us. The ‘Tenner Deal’ is an excellent opportunity for us to showcase what we can do while making it affordable for our customers,” explained Andrew.

Kentisbury Grange is one of the Devon-based venues taking part in the Exmoor Food Fest, where renowned Chef Michael Caines MBE has recently become involved.
“We are delighted to join this promotion of local food and Exmoor as a region,” commented Peter Farquhar, General Manager. “Michael’s involvement is very exciting as it will enable us to move to a whole new level in all aspects of our hospitality offering.’

The Exmoor Food Fest is organised and run by Exmoor4all, an internet platform based on sharing photos and stories of Exmoor with people all over the world as well as providing a network for local businesses. Andrew Dixon, who now is also a tutor at The Combe, and Werner Hartholt, the Combe’s Chef Lecturer, are co-organisers and technical consultants for the Exmoor Food Fest.

A total of 15 restaurants will take part in the first Exmoor Food Fest. A list is available on www.exmoorfoodfest.com, complete with contact details and days when the special Exmoor Food Fest deal is available.

1

New PhotoCompetition for Exmoor Foodies

We are running a small photo competition from 29 November 2014 till 15 January 2015.
Post your photos of meals you enjoy over the next few weeks in Exmoor restaurants and pubs in this group. We will publish them on our Facebook pages Exmoor4all and Exmoor Food Fest.

The winner will receive a ticket for two for the VIP launch of the Exmoor Food Fest on 28 January 2015 atThe Combe in Minehead.

Exmoor Foodie FB Group #food #drink #FB #competitions

New Chef at Kentisbury Grange: Jean-Marc Zanetti

Jean-Marc-3Jean-Marc Zanetti brings the huge experience of his highly successful culinary career to the Coach House Restaurant at Kentisbury Grange.

I believe good food should consist of the best and freshest local and regional produce.

I believe good food should consist of the best and freshest local and regional produce.

Born in France, Jean-Marc has harboured a passion for fine food from an early age, a passion that led him to his calling as a chef and to eventually sharpening his skills in some of the most renowned kitchens in Europe, including several Michelin starred restaurants in Burgundy and the south of France.

Jean-Marc spent over 10 years working alongside Michael Caines MBE and was chef de partie at Gidleigh Park when the famous restaurant won its second Michelin star.

Most recently he worked at the celebrated ABode restaurant Canterbury in the Executive Chef role before moving to Devon to head up the team at the Coach House Restaurant.

North Devon’s wonderful local produce is at the heart of Jean-Marc’s dishes and his keen interest in the environment means he believes in sourcing produce from the suppliers in the close proximity Kentisbury Grange – crab from Lundy Island or duck and beef from the farm next door – ensuring the lowest number of “food miles” possible.

This low impact approach not only helps to reduce our carbon footprint but also ensures the freshest ingredients and the best tasting dishes. Indeed, Jean-Marc champions the region’s produce and has established close links with local specialists to secure the supply of the finest seasonal ingredients.

Jean-Marc-2

Exmoor Club members receive a 10% discount on all food and drink.

Newsflash from The Culbone

logo

“We were nominated for a “Rural Oscar” by some of our Pips Club Members, for this years prestigious Countryside Alliance Awards. I’m thrilled to tell you that we have been crowned – South West of England Champions 2012 (start up category). We are through to the National Final, March 13th where we will proudly represent Exmoor. It is incredibly rewarding to be recognised for celebrating the very best of Exmoor. ”