Restaurant of the month: Wild Shropshire
We met with Chef James Sherwin of Wild Shropshire Restaurant at a recent Love British Food event and had a chat with him about what he does.
Ternhill Farm House
Shropshire TF9 3PX
Wild Shropshire is a small 20-cover restaurant serving tasting menus only, based in Tern Hill, North Shropshire. They serve modern British food based on micro seasonality and terroir. They forage, have their own allotment and use local farmers etc to serve food based solely on "Shropshire's Terroir". They opened in a permanent location in March 2018 however were working on the concept as a pop up in and around Shropshire for the last 2 years.
Why do you do what you do?
I love being able to work directly with food from growing and picking it to then putting into dishes. The great thing about working with seasonality is that dishes can change daily and it forces you to be creative and reactive to the environment. I also love that in a time where we are becoming more global this truly represents a really small part of the world.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There are two things, firstly the creative side of putting dishes together, I like making things. The other part I enjoy is talking to my customers after they've eaten, about what they've eaten. While it's not great hearing someone say that they didn't enjoy a dish, it's great to talk about and discuss the ingredients. We have so many ingredients that we've forgotten about now that we have access to everything, its always great seeing people's reaction when they realise that they have Nasturtiums or Meadowsweet etc. in their garden.
What do you enjoy the least about your job?
I hate the unpredictability of service, the control freak in me struggles with that!
What achievement for the restaurant are you most proud of?
I am most proud that we have managed to do exactly what we wanted. We serve a tasting menu, grow and forage our own ingredients and serve natural wine. A lot of these things go against what is probably the correct thing to do commercially but they're what I've always envisaged for my restaurant.
Do you use British Produce?
99% of our produce is British, more accurately 99% of our produce is from Shropshire. We use little things that aren't, Miso, Soy, Chocolate etc. Our wine list is also primarily from small terriorcentric producers. The tag line we like to use is that everything we serve is "Of a place". That place may not always be Shropshire but it is representative of somewhere.
What do you think is best about using British produce?
Freshness, Seasonality, Terroir. If an ingredient has had to be flown from halfway around the world or has sit in a warehouse for weeks then it tastes of nothing and has little nutritional value. British produce is great when used fresh and in season, we have the best strawberries in the world but they taste of nothing when brought in December.
Why should people buy British?
We have some of the world's best ingredients here, why get them out of season from somewhere else (I'm thinking about Asparagus) and secondly let's support our farmers.It's a cycle, if we support them by buying their produce then they'll continue to grown/rear high quality/high welfare food. We need to get back to the mind-set of eating things in season and looking forward to things coming into season. Supermarkets allowing us to have everything all of the time has been dreadful for our farmers and I'm sure with time will show that it has health implications as well.
What is your most popular dish?
My most popular dish is a Celeriac dish. I cook the Celeriac in burnt butter for a long time and serve it with a sauce made from whey and double cream that has been split with an oil made from nasturtiums. It's a very simple dish but seems to impress every time.