It had always been my aim to stock, sell and champion local produce and suppliers, not only from an environmental stand point but also to support local industries. Opening a business in a rural location has its benefits, but to maintain this style of life money must be invested back into other local businesses. We have established some excellent relationships with a large number of local producers and suppliers of local produce, and are proud of our achievements to date. The satisfaction comes from not only knowing that the product is the best possible available, but in also being able to talk to the famer himself and know exactly where the produce is coming from.
Running a restaurant is very much like holding several dinner parties at the same time in one house, and I try to source the very best ingredients for the guests that arrive at The DuCane. As a meat eater but also an animal lover, I want to know that the animals raised for my table have been allowed to live a natural life free from ill treatment. Local suppliers transport their cattle a fraction of the distance to slaughter compared with some national suppliers, and my view is that this lessens the build up of stress, thereby producing tenderer joints for me to cook.
We have sourced some excellent producers and suppliers and I have listed them below should you wish to purchase from them yourself.
Kit Speakman/ Braxted Beef and Lamb.
These wonderful ingredients are some of the best beef and lamb around reared locally in Braxted on the banks of the Blackwater. Kit sells boxes of jointed beef and lamb from his herd and will conduct organised tours of his farm and show case his relationship between commercial farming and conservation.
Our Sunday sirloin is a DuCane favourite as well as steak pies and burgers.
Once hung for the necessary 30 days, the beef is fit for any table. We purchase ours through wholesale butcher Direct Meats, who also have their own herds raised in the Deben valley.
It is always reassuring to cook a stunning sirloin of beef on a Sunday morning and to then serve it to the farmer who produced it - another positive for buying local.
Wicks Manor Farm Pork
This family run business specialises in all things pig – sensational bacons and gammons from their own pigs that are cured on the farm and smoked in the traditional way, all manners of sausages and sausage meats and some of the very best pork roasting joints available. We use the pork belly regularly as well as the excellent sausages. When roasting pork on the Sunday we go for a loin and always comment on the crispy crackling which is so hard to achieve with lesser-quality pork.
Butterfly Farm and Capri latté Ice creams
The catering trade is all about passion and occasionally you come across a kindred spirit, another person passionate about their particular product - Warren and Ellie are such a couple. They supply us with sublime ice creams using goat’s milk as their base rather than the usual cow’s milk. The results are irresistible and new flavour combinations seem to be Warren’s favourite hobby – as we all get to sample these the ice cream man is a very welcome and popular supplier.
All the ice creams are naturally flavoured and coloured and have a slightly lighter texture than cow’s milk ice creams. For dairy intolerant diners ours are normally tolerable, and during regular tasting sessions I can assure all reading this that these ice creams are in my humble opinion to die for – as, incidentally, does Waitrose, who keep on dishing out awards for the quality of the product.
Warren’s flock is again free range and based in Abbington where the milking, pasteurising and churning into ice creams is completed. We also purchase prime cuts of goat meat and we have used them regularly as a feature dish on our lunch and dinner menus - a forgotten delicacy and as tasty as spring lamb if cooked well.
Purists may comment that we should really make our own ice creams on site but that would exclude Warren and his flavours from our kitchen life and I prefer to let an expert make them for us.
Warren and Ellie have just launched their own range of goat’s cheeses to the trade and we have been keen to incorporate them into our menus and cheeseboard selection.
Old friends Steve and Mark have provided me with the freshest local produce available for some time now, and as with all things culinary the fresher the better. Mark collects the majority of his produce direct from the producing farm and distributes it to a few lucky customers, one of them being The DuCane. We receive seasonal, locally grown vegetables hours old, picked that day and delivered daily. We have to do without exotic varieties of vegetables like French beans, mange tout and baby corn but we feel it better to buy local and cook fresh. We are forced to make use of the seasons and where ever possible we buy and serve locally grown vegetables and fruit featuring each as long as we can as the seasons change. We also use berries exclusively supplied by The Tiptree Jam company Wilkins and Sons as well as Little Mountains Farm just up the lane, apples from local orchards and even hybrid varieties grown for the first time in the area.
Hill Holme Apple Juice
A recent addition to our shelves but a fantastic non-alcoholic juice produced from locally- grown apples, pressed and processed in Great Totham. We only stock a few of the many lines that Clare and Nigel produce but we do sell large family sized bottles behind the bar should you want to take some with. We use the juice in savoury and sweet dishes alike and we all feel that it is nicer than some of the more commercially produced fruit juices both as a drink and as a cooking ingredient.
If you are always left with apples littering the garden collect them up and Hill Holme will press them for your own label apple juice to takeaway and enjoy at home.
Sandra not only delivers our wood for the restaurant but also supplies our free range eggs, which always have an excellent colour and which we use in lots of our recipes and dishes with peace of mind as to the welfare and safety of the chickens.
Baking nightly, this small independent bakers supplies all our bread – brown, granary and unbleached white are all made the traditional way and baked in the only oil-fired oven in Essex. Made with locally-milled flour and grains, with no artificial colourings or flavourings and delivered to us daily still warm from the oven.
Little Mountains Farm
In Summer Little Mountains produces some of the best soft fruit available including raspberries, Loganberries, currants and strawberries. We use plenty of these products picked daily and served hours old. In winter the farm turns its attention to free range, bronze turkeys raised and butchered on the farm and fed a grain-based diet. We use Little Mountain Farm turkeys throughout Christmas and occasionally on Sundays.
Colchester Fish Supplies
A Mersea-based company owned by Toby supplies us with ethically harvested fish and shellfish, with buyers located in all the local markets. We purchase daily and set a tough criteria for our fish, as whether farmed or wild we are conscious of the danger of over-fishing and fish stock decline, and try to do our bit by buying right.
We buy with the seasons and avoid fish species when spawning or carrying eggs. We promote new and unusual varieties of fish to our customers to avoid buying endangered or over-fished species.
Sea food and shellfish can be ordered in advance – if you give us 24 hours notice we can source and prepare a selection of local shellfish to nibble on. Lobster, oysters, mussels and dressed crabs are all available but we prefer to take delivery and serve on the same day where possible.
Jim Knight has been delivering the very best of meat and poultry for many years and has built up a first class reputation in the catering industry, sourcing the best meat from local markets Jim ensures all our meat is ethically sourced and with traceability from farm to fork.
Harvested from local hives as part of the Essex Beekeeping society co-operative, we use this wonderful natural product in many of our desserts and puddings. With the numbers of hives falling and bees dying out in large numbers, purchasing locally-produced honey allows funds to be re-invested in research and welfare for the future of British Beekeeping.
Since before Roman times our local coastline has been famous for sea and shellfish, and long established oyster beds have yielded excellent oysters of rare quality and flavour. We obtain our crabs, lobsters and cockles from Colchester oysters safe in the knowledge that they are landed in baited pots in the traditional way, graded and delivered to us with the scent of the sea. Featuring in our menus seasonally we think you will love the results.
Supplying the leading London restaurants, Direct Meats based in Chapel are our interface with local meat producers. Not only wholesale butchers Direct Meats operate and farm their own herds for slaughter and supply perfectly hung lamb, beef and poultry.
Based in Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex Birds supply the very best local poultry, geese and chickens reared and slaughtered on the farm to the highest freedom foods standards. Reared for over 70 days (supermarket chicken is reared to 28-35 days with the help of growth hormones and 24 hour feeding, producing heavy birds with little taste), the Essex Birds have a much fuller flavour and taste like chicken used to taste.
The Mersea Brewing Company
Supply us with locally brewed ales and stouts.
Supplying us with locally brewed ales.
The Mighty Oak Company
Supplying us with locally brewed ales.
Kay, Mark and Yvonne select a range of fantastic wines for every palate.
Order direct from the boats, liasing with the skipper and bypassing the regular fish markets to deliver ultra fresh sea and shellfish.
Servering to us the best locally grown asparagus.
Supplying us with fair trade oil and removal of waste oil, to be reduced into bio fuel.
A M B Gardening & Landscaping
Carefully tending all the gardens at The DuCane.
Residents of Braxted
Locally we take delivery of all fresh produce brought to our door including Braxted bullace plums, cooking apples, quince, pears and stunning figs. You grow it, we cook it, simple.