For many people great food and local produce are inseparable and one look at Robert Thompson’s new menus will tell you all you need to know about the chef’s commitment to local food. His new venture Thompson’s will feature dishes such as ceviche of local mackerel, or ballotine of local chicken plus Living Larder’s cucumber, broccoli and other vegetables peppering the menu, the message is crystal clear.
Luckily for Robert, the Island is a veritable melting pot (or cooking pot?) when it comes to local produce. The unique climate and extra hours of sunshine allow it to grow award-winning tomatoes, garlic, sweetcorn, asparagus and much more. Fruits of the land and sea are in abundance and the passion of the local producers, growers, farmers and fisherman is immense. Robert explains that to him: “It’s a no brainer. If you start working in a kitchen you are always going to look at what you can get in your backyard, there is no excuse, you should be using local. If the produce is great and I can get hold of it on a consistent basis then there is a place for it in my kitchen.”
Eating local has numerous benefits and far less of an environmental impact, plus it keeps us in-touch with the seasons – eating foods at their peak taste and having a connection with the dishes we choose. He continues: “It’s vital to me that guests can identify with the food they are eating. Where it has come from, how it was farmed, grown or caught and the ethos behind its presentation.”
Chef Robert Thompson and his team respect the unique vibrancy on the Isle of Wight, by ensuring seasonal menus from farm to plate reflect the Island’s finest flavours. Natural, fresh, simple ingredients are combined with award winning culinary skills to produce dishes with a big identity.
Robert showcases some of the Isle of Wight produce that he uses on his website, including The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight Cheese Co and The Tomato Stall. “For me, Isle of Wight tomatoes are the best. I had given up on tomatoes before tasting these, they are amazing” he enthuses.
Living Larder provide much of the vegetables for Robert, and this relationship he has forged with local producers is an important one: “Working with a local supplier who understands your needs and your day is vital. Will Steward (from Living Larder) will ask me what I might want for next year and play about with growing different things to suit. If you say that you are using a local supplier then make sure you do use them, that you are supporting that producer, because it is a hard market to be in.”
You can try all of these items plus much more now Thompson’s is open in Town Lane, Newport, serving lunch and dinner. Why not come over as a foot passenger or as a day trip with Wightlink and make the most of these combination tickets to get you to Newport.
Are your taste-buds tingling yet? The food on the Isle of Wight really is so fresh and vibrant, and there's so much choice. Make sure you take the time to taste it for yourself when you come and visit.
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