Organic Served Here Case Study - Yeo Valley Canteen
Yeo Valley Canteen, Bristol
4 star OSH award – 75-95% organic menu
After word got out about the spectacular views and food available to the staff on Yeo Valley’s family farm, it seemed only logical to open the doors of the Yeo Valley Canteen to the public. Serving breakfasts, lunches and occasional dinners, the canteen has been certified as a 4-star award holder, meaning 75-95% of the produce on its regularly changing menu is organic.
We spoke to Yeo’s Food Ambassador and Executive Head Chef Paul Collins, about the motivations behind choosing organic.
How has your life and career influenced you to cook with organic?
As a Chef and Food Ambassador for Yeo Valley I have been working exclusively in the Organic Food sector for the past 15 years and feel very strongly it is my duty to support organic and British farming at all times, both at Yeo Valley and in my family life.
Our suppliers and the way they produce the food gives me enormous satisfaction and I love to share those stories with everyone that comes to Yeo Valley. I feel you should be able to walk into our HQ Canteen or our London Café and immediately be able to say what time of year it is, purely by reading the menu. This is what makes us unique - we can react and change our menu on a daily basis depending on what our gardeners or local organic suppliers bring us!
Cooking organically has had a massive bearing on my life - you tend to feel very differently in the way you cook and in sourcing like-minded producers who share our values of animal welfare and our Food Buying Policy. We should pay more attention, with uncertain times ahead, to what is growing in the ground now in the UK both organically and locally - focus on supporting British farming and cooking seasonally for your customers.
What are your ‘must have’ organic ingredients – and why?
At Yeo Valley, we have the benefits of having the UK’s leading organic brand at our kitchen door. As a result, we never go outside of Yeo Valley for anything dairy, god forbid I was caught with competitor’s milk in my fridge! We can, very luckily, extend that to the fact that every piece of meat we serve to our staff and external guests - our very own organic beef, lamb and pork is also reared on the family farm.
Once you have those two main ingredients to hand it becomes very easy to call upon other local organic suppliers such as The Community Farm or Strode Valley Organics to supplement the menu on any given day
How do your and your restaurant’s values align with the ‘less but better meat’ ethos? Have you made any moves to help reduce your environmental impact?
Yeo Valley’s values start with the soil our animals walk upon, from the different grasses and legumes we grow that go into their diet, to the Canteen’s menu. We try to use every bit of the animal which can be quite hard on occasions when you are trying to cook for 100 people every day. Offal is not that popular, but we are striving to ensure it all gets used on the menus.
The vast majority of the rest of the menu is made up of dishes that don’t always rely on meat products, so we are trying to strike that balance. We all need to be making decisions that emphasise the bigger picture - organic farming has a vital role to play in that, from carbon sequestration in the soil, to avoiding feeding cereals from far-off places to ruminant animals.
We all need to make those decisions as chefs - we have a large audience and could potentially influence a wider change.
Interested in the Organic Served Here Scheme?Find out about certification