Giles Thompson Celebrates Sussex

It is now nearly ten years since Giles Thompson, former executive head chef at the Ritz, swapped the glitz and glamour of London for the tranquillity of the Sussex countryside, taking over The Earl of March in 2007. It’s a decision he doesn’t regret and under his guidance the pub has earned acclaim from diners and critics alike, as well as being featured in the Michelin Guide, the AA Guide, Hardens and The Good Food Guide.

For Giles the move was very much a lifestyle choice and he has wholeheartedly embraced all that rural Sussex has to offer, becoming a staunch champion of local, seasonal ingredients. The Earl of March focuses on fish and seafood in the summer months and on game in the winter, also drawing on the rich flavours of sea herbs and foraged mushrooms when in season. ‘Can you believe,’ he says ‘that my old flame, the Michelin-starred Ritz, is supplied by our near neighbour the Goodwood Estate? That in itself is a triumph for local produce.’

The Earl of March

Goodwood is known for its racing events such as Glorious Goodwood and the Festivals of Speed and Revival, but Sussex more generally is also a hub for a huge variety of food-related festivals. Giles always enjoys taking part in the Weald and Downland Food & Folk Festival, and West Dean’s Chilli Fiesta and Apple Affair, and he works closely with local growers such as Tangmere Peppers and Runcton Farm to promote open farm days.

In 2017 Giles and his team at The Earl of March will be hosting the tenth series of their very own food festivals, starting with the Asparagus Fest in May, followed by the Strawberry Fest in July, the Lobster Fest in August, the Game Fest in October and rounding the series off with a Thanksgiving celebration in November. These festivals provide a further opportunity to celebrate some of the very best local food and drink. As Giles says, ‘Sussex is … blessed with some of the finest sparkling English wine, such as Nyetimber and Tinwood from just up the road – we think so highly of their brilliant fizz that they headlined at our Lobster Fest in August. This year we’ve also hosted gin and vodka festivals featuring tipples from the local Chilgrove distilleries.’

Giles is also proud of the success that fellow restaurateurs in his adoptive county have enjoyed in recent years. ‘Rich in history, culture and produce, Sussex has become an amazing gastronomic fairground,’ he enthuses. The region ‘is dominated by great independent operators who pride themselves on what is local, seasonal, fresh, and made from the best-quality ingredients.’

Visit any one of the restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs in our brand new Sussex Food & Drink Guide and we’re sure that you’ll agree. Keep a look-out for the guide in branches of Waitrose and in tourist information offices or order a copy now. You can also browse all the venues on our website and app.

Lucy Palmer

Lucy Palmer

Lucy is an ex-TEFL-teacher and keen foodie with a particular fondness for Sicilian seafood. She fancies herself as a bit of a linguist and enjoys delighting/boring her colleagues with language-related trivia. She is also an avid reader, cyclist and collector of pebbles.

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