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Sustainable cooking with Sussex’s Chef Patron Oliver Gladwin

30 March 2020

April French Furnell

Sustainable cooking is “the only way I’ve ever cooked”, says Oliver Gladwin, one part of the Gladwin Brothers trio. Utilising their three skills: one being a farmer, one a chef and the third a restaurateur, the brothers have been bringing their ethos of ‘local and wild’ to the city of London since 2012.

Sussex, their latest opening, celebrates the Sussex countryside with their characteristic sustainability commitment at the core of the business. Ingredients are sourced directly from the Gladwins’ family farm and vineyard or local suppliers handpicked by the three brothers, Richard, Oliver and Gregory.

Chef patron and co-founder Oliver Gladwin has taken his inspiration from his knowledge and love of classical cooking, alongside his passion for all things rural, merging home-grown, heritage dishes with modern cooking techniques and a forward-thinking approach.

The wine list features the Gladwin family’s award-winning range of Sussex wines from their Nutbourne vineyard in Sussex. Expect daily specials such as Vinewood Roasted Grouse to Oliver’s signature Wellington, and desserts including the Sussex Pond Pudding, Apple, Lemon & Marigold Curd with Spiced Burnt Butter and Custard.

Citywealth caught up with chef Oliver Gladwin to find out more about his commitment to sustainability.

 

Walk us through a typical day running the kitchen at Sussex.

Our first job is to shape the 48-hour wild yeast bread dough, ready for going in the oven as we serve fresh bread daily. The next two hours are crucial prep time as you ready the kitchen for the day; straining braises from the night before, cooking stocks and sauces, and of course making the wellies! The Kitchen brigade gathers for a team briefing before service where we chat about the day ahead, and check on our sections. Next I head upstairs to join the front of house briefing, usually with a new dish to introduce and taste. Lunch service goes by in what feels like a second; Checks being printed, calling orders, plating dishes, the ting of our service bell and just like that it’s over! A short break between lunch and dinner where all the team sits at our Kitchen Table to have our family meal – what a fantastic part of the day. And then, we start the process again for dinner. We clean down as a team at the end of service as we listen to our favourite tunes before heading home.

 

Tell us about your passion for sustainable cooking.

In all of our kitchens there is a ‘no wastage policy’ – it forges a respect for all ingredients, whether it’s a humble carrot, a live lobster or one of Gregory’s prized cows. Every gram is used and this to me is more than a passion, it’s a way of life. “Sustainable” cooking is the only way I’ve ever cooked and perhaps that is because of my connection to ingredients, growing up on a farm, but I don’t see how we could run a successful kitchen without these practices. 

 

How does this translate into the menu for Sussex?

For a start, all of our ingredients come straight from our family farm and surrounds – animals whole, vegetables unwashed or treated. Once in our kitchen, we butcher animals whole and focus on nose to tail cooking, which means that our menu champions an animal from fillet to offal. In the same way, our chefs are constantly having to think of delicious ways to use otherwise discarded carrot tops, herb stalks and the like which gives us great creations like our tempura garden herb stalks or homemade kimchi. Our menu changes daily based on seasonality and availability of veg and ingredients from the farm – we build our menu around the produce, not the other way around. 

 

As the business has grown how do you ensure your ethos remains throughout the company?

By ensuring we hire people that lead from the front and who share the same ethos as we do. Ed Haines, our Farm to Fork manager oversees ordering from kitchens, sourcing of ingredients into a central warehouse and making use of everything we receive from the farm. I handle menu movement each week, guiding our chefs to ways to use newly in-season produce or use up end-of season game and veg.

 

What are your thoughts on sustainable cooking as a trend in the food industry? Is it being done well? Is there room for improvement?

Cooking resourcefully is not something that I see as a trend – it’s a way of life for me. In order to run a business, one must be sustainably minded across the board. In light of it being trend though, any movement toward being more sustainable is obviously great. I think it could certainly improve by focusing further on using British ingredients and supporting local farmers and growers – it seems that we’re very focused on encouraging people to eat less meat and we’re behind that but this country has such incredible game to offer, so perhaps being more adventurous in your cookery at home by using pheasant, venison, quail – or squirrel even!  Sustainability forces creativity and this is an area in which we could celebrate more.

 

Favourite dish on the Sussex menu? Why?

Beef wellie because it’s a classic and a favourite for all.

 

Most sustainable dish on the menu?

Squirrel and wild garlic tortellini – local and wild dish from top to tail!

 

What makes each of the restaurants in the group unique?

Our aim has always been to create a haven of the English countryside in your borough – and this is what differentiates each of our restaurants as they reflect the area in which they’re situated. The food philosophy is the same across all four but each has its own flavor and flair unique to the area.

 

If you could only cook one dish for the rest of your life… what would it be?

I’d rather die than only cook one dish for the rest of my life!

 

For more information: https://www.sussex-restaurant.com/

For inspiration visit their Instagram @sussex_resto

 

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