Ingredients & Suppliers
We’re proud to be involved every step of the way with the food we sell. We source ingredients, cook them, freeze them, pack and label them, transport and sell them in our own shops. In fact, we make nearly all the products we sell (93%). Just a few, specialised items which we are not equipped to make in our two kitchens come from external suppliers. We only work with suppliers who share our high standards regarding provenance and sustainability. If we are not 100% happy, we either look elsewhere or encourage suppliers to move closer in line with what we do.
Unless specified, the information below pertains to the dishes we make ourselves.
All our pork is higher welfare and comes from British pigs reared in the open air. Almost all of it comes from Dingley Dell, a family-owned farm in Suffolk where the pigs are born, reared and grow outdoors all year round. They have won numerous awards for quality, enterprise and conservation and they share our belief that responsible animal welfare and great flavour goes hand in hand.
Both the pork steaks we cook with and the pork in our sausage rolls (which are made for us externally by Higgidy) also come from higher-welfare farms.
Our commitment to higher-welfare pork was recognised with a Good Pig Award from Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) in 2016.
All of our beef comes from the UK and Ireland, from cows reared outside on grass. It is Red Tractor approved, which means the farms are all monitored independently to check animal welfare standards, food safety, traceability and environmental protection. For our meals with diced beef, we use silverside and top rump. For mince, we buy whole joints of beef, trim off the fat by hand and then mince it ourselves in our Kitchen. It is a laborious process, but it ensures we get the best quality and know there is nothing but beef in our mince.
We are committed to sourcing 100% of our chicken from higher-welfare farms (working to the standards set by Compassion in World Farming) by the end of 2019. At the time of writing (March 2018) around half of our chicken is sourced to this standard with the remainder being British, Red Tractor-approved, fully traceable, and barn-reared on farms which are checked and monitored for quality and welfare. Light and temperature levels are monitored and controlled to ensure that any stress to the birds is minimised, and a stable environment is maintained at all times.We visit all our chicken suppliers to make sure we’re happy.
Our commitment to higher-welfare chicken was recognised with a Good Chicken Award from Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) in 2017.
Fruit & Veg
We source produce from around the world to ensure the best quality and availability in season, while ensuring, wherever possible, we prioritise the use British ingredients to reduce food miles and our impact on the environment. All of our produce is traceable back to source.
We will continue to work hard to minimise the use of imported products and focus on seasonality and working with British growers.
We are very proud to work with Silver Hill Farm, one of the world’s most prestigious suppliers of duck. A family- owned company based in the Republic of Ireland, they started 50 years ago with six top-quality ducks, which have been developed into their own breed, which is famed for its taste.They are involved with very step, from breeding to processing, and run with a zero carbon footprint on their farms.The ducks are reared free to roam in barns, to protect them from the harsh weather conditions (duck down is not actually waterproof).They are graded AA by the Global Food Safety Initiative.
Duck is always popular around Christmas. If we need wild duck in our seasonal specials, that currently comes from Ben Rigby Game, which is wild shot.The Duck & Plum Paté is made externally and, although the duck used is currently not up to our normal higher-welfare standards, this is something we’re working on.
Sausages & Bacon
Our pork sausages are made exclusively for us by Speldhurst, a company based in Kent that has its roots in a recipe created by Joe Lovett, a village butcher, over 50 years ago. All of the pork sausages, sausage meat, and the ingredients they supply for our Christmas range, are free from preservatives and artificial flavourings, and made from higher-welfare pork from the UK and, occasionally, Ireland.
Wild boar sausages come from Direct Meats and, as implied, the meat is from wild pigs that roam freely.
Curd and Cure, a Kent-based supplier we’ve worked with since 2008, supplies our bacon. It is currently raised to a higher standard (so it’s not from ‘factory farms’) but still not one recognised by a welfare scheme.This is something we’re working on improving.
Most of our lamb is from Wales, or occasionally from elsewhere in the UK. For our Lamb Shanks, when British lamb is out of season and unavailable, we sometimes source from New Zealand. We use diced leg of lamb in all of our dishes. For mince, we buy whole legs with the fat trimmed off and mince the meat ourselves by hand to ensure there is nothing but top quality lamb in our dishes.We can trace all our lamb back to the farms on which the animals was bred.
For our Christmas turkeys, we go to William Grove Smith’s award-winning farm in Essex. He follows a “plough- to-plate” philosophy, growing all his own wheat and barley to feed the birds, using his farm straw for their daily bedding and recycling their waste as fertilizer for his fields.The birds are reared in large, open-sided barns, with fresh straw daily.The farm has its own, BRC-approved slaughter facility to minimize the stress caused to the birds. His English Rose breed of turkey is a slower-maturing bird, giving it a lovely, rich flavour.
Fish & Seafood
All of our white fish comes from approved fishing grounds and is traceable back to source.We only use suppliers that support the activities of the Marine Stewardship Council and are committed to sustainable fishing. The fish is prepared to our exact specifications and delivered daily to our kitchens.
Most of our salmon comes from higher-welfare Scottish farms, although our sides of salmon and smoked salmon are supplied by Coln Valley, which also uses Norwegian salmon. The Smoked Salmon & Pesto Tar tlets are made externally and the salmon is sourced from Norway and the Faroe Islands, as well as Scotland, and is currently not higher-welfare.
We only use prawns which are certified to a four star standard by the Best Aqauculture Practice (BAP), which is the highest standard they recognise. BAP is the world’s most trusted, comprehensive and proven third-party aquaculture certification program. It has been improving the environmental, social and economic performance of the aquaculture supply chain and growing the global supply of responsibly farmed seafood since 2002.
We don’t use much game outside of our seasonal specials for Christmas, but almost all of it comes from Ben Rigby Game. Since 1979, this family-run business has built strong relationships with some of the best estates across England and Ireland. For their venison, they work with The Royal Parks and The Forestry Commission to source wild deer from sustainable forests and managed estates. Pheasant, duck and other small game are sourced from sporting estates in England.
The wild boar sausages we use come from Direct Meats and is made with meat from wild pigs. TheVenison & Pistachio Paté is made externally and the venison is farmed, rather than wild.
All of the eggs we use are free range. The come predominantly from the UK, and occasionally from the continent.
We received a Good Egg Award from Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) in 2011.
All of our milk and cream come from farms in the UK, predominantly from the south of England.
Cheddar is from A. J. Barber’s, who have been making cheese since 1833 and the oldest surviving Cheddar- makers in the world. Based in the West Country, they work with the local farming community and are the sole guardians of the country’s last remaining traditional cheese starter cultures (the friendly bacteria that begins the cheese-making process).
All of our other cheeses come from approved suppliers in the UK and Europe.
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The COOK Kitchen
Kent ME10 3HH
t: 01732 759000