Food and Drink January 7, 2012
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Appreciating Somerset - Luke Nicholson

Having been born and raised in the Bridgwater area, it’s always been my ambition to work at the nearby Walnut Tree Hotel. I have, as with any typical chef, worked in a variety of bars, restaurants and hotels, including some in Jersey and Switzerland, and done everything from catering for the masses to cooking basic home-cooked food, and inventing and preparing bistro specialities. I am lucky in that, at The Walnut Tree Hotel’s Lemon Tree Restaurant and Bistro, I get the opportunity to turn my hand to all three, working with a huge variety of fantastic local produce – the best Somerset has to offer.

The county is blessed with a great diversity and choice of fresh local produce – in terms of both food and drink – ranging from local cheeses, farm produce, game and meat to apple juice, cider and wines. In fact, Somerset can boast one of the largest networks of farmers and food producers in the UK. The county has a vibrant food and drink industry offering the best in traditional produce, together with some more unusual specialities such as buffalo meat. Producers such as Charlton Orchards, who have been growing traditional varieties of fruit for more than 60 years, and The Orchard Pig – the award-winning drinks company that has grown from a hobby into a well-known brand, now stocked in more than 350 outlets – regularly hit the headlines thanks to their outstanding wares.

For food and drink lovers, the Royal Bath and West Show held in Shepton Mallet provides a great day out, while festivals such as the Cheddar Ales Brewery Beer Festival or the Chutfest at Barrington Court (a celebration of chutney making) add to Somerset’s vibrant foodie scene, as do the regular farmers’ markets held throughout the region.

At The Walnut Tree Hotel, we use local produce wherever possible – we know where it’s come from and that it’s going to be of the fi nest quality, with the best flavour. The kitchen team I have developed over the last five years love using Somerset’s seasonal fruit and vegetables to create and invent – the ever-changing availability of ingredients gives us plenty of scope to come up with new ideas, and we relish being in a position to always offer customers something a bit different. Do take the time to explore and enjoy all that Somerset has to offer – I’m sure you’ll appreciate it as much as we do.


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