Long before I opened Lamberts nine years ago I knew that my restaurant would offer locally grown, seasonal food and I have stuck to this ideal even though the reality of sourcing good British ingredients has been far harder than I ever imagined. There simply isn’t enough to go round.
Restaurateurs and chefs are notoriously territorial about their suppliers – in fact many chefs refuse to reveal where they get their ingredients from. We, however, have always name-checked our suppliers as we see them as key to the success of our restaurant.Without these wonderful people our dishes just wouldn't be the same. By ensuring the tireless producers behind the scenes enjoy wider recognition, we hope to encourage restaurants making the extra effort that such ideals necessarily involve.
With very few exceptions, the ingredients we use in the kitchen come from small British suppliers. We want to show the diversity of British produce as well as minimising our carbon footprint. So whilst our menu in September features dishes made with chanterelles and plums, we don’t normally use produce commonly associated with overseas cooking. For the same reason we only offer fish from sustainable stocks found in the waters around the UK. You won’t find caviar, cod, salmon (farmed, organic or Alaskan) or trawled fish on our menu (which is a method that has had a detrimental effect on other stocks and the environment), but we do offer delicious Mackerel fresh off the day boats in Cornwall and Dover Sole landed at the MSC certified fishery out of Hastings. We're not saying we are perfect but we feel that it's worth doing something rather than nothing at all.
Some of our suppliers are organic but we would rather use premium ingredients grown in the UK than organic which have been flown half way around the world from poor farmers or trucked over from southern Europe with less but still significant environmental impact.
That our farming industry is in crisis isn’t news to anyone, but hopefully the fact that it’s becoming increasingly less socially acceptable to air freight food around the world, might hopefully be the catalyst we need to encourage more sustainable agriculture and ensure we are able to meet the growing demand for good, honest, natural food at home.
Our fruit and veg come from Secretts Farm, a third generation family business set in the heart of the Surrey countryside, who won the 2006 Observer Food Award for ‘Best Producer’.
Crops are grown either outdoors or under glass on sandy loam, and delivered directly to us within twenty-four hours of harvest. It’s no wonder the flavour and freshness is without comparison.
Any game products on the menu, such as venison or pigeon, come from the Denham Estate. The Denham Estate specialises in deer farming, keeping to the strictest ethics of compassionate and responsible animal husbandry. The deer live in a natural, free-range and stress free environment. The Denham Estate has a home abattoir to do away with live transportation and the stress to the animals that this causes.
All of the fish on our menu comes from Murray’s Fresh Fish, a small company based in Battersea. Richard Murray has hands on experience of the fishing industry having worked on an oyster fishery in colchester, a salmon fishery in ullapool and on the langoustine boats out of the West of Scotland. the uniquie experience gives him an insight into all elements of fish supply from quality to sustainability. we receive a text from Richard around midnight to let us know what the day boats have landed in Sussex and Cornwall and we place our order accordingly. All of their fish are from well managed, sustainable sources. Using line caught, seasonal fish helps to reduce the total number of fish taken from the sea – for this reason we always serve a fish of the day which varies depending on what has been caught by the day boats.