Meet the farmers, chefs, producers, game-changers and disruptors on a mission to fix our food chain in 2019 and beyond. These are the guys working to make our food better, not only for our health, but for the planet and our tastebuds too.
1. Dan Cox
Once he’d passed through the kitchens of Michel Roux and Simon Rogan, and subsequently got fed up with restaurant ethics, Dan Cox casually headed to Cornwall to set up a 120-acre farm and restaurant. He’s built everything from scratch, from the micro-brewery to the restaurant itself. Farmer, shepherd, brewer, forager, and potter, he’s Britain’s answer to Dan Barber. And there’s even talk that Crocadon, opening in 2019, will be the best restaurant in the world.
2. Julius Roberts
Full-time, self-appointed farmer at the age of 25, with no farming background to speak of, Julius Roberts is one of very few first-generation farmers showing others that farming can be a worthwhile pursuit in 2019. Once part of the kitchen staff at Noble Rot, restaurant life took too much out of him. Farming and educating, surprisingly it seems, doesn’t. Hooked on the idea of self-sufficiency, and hotter on sustainability and ethics than almost everyone else, through the power of Instagram (@telltalefood) he’s bringing the realities of farming to the screens in our palms. And inspiring others to do the same in the process.
3. Oscar Harding at Duchess Farms
If this is the year soil gets more attention, then Duchess Farms should be among those setting the bar. Sustainability is high on their list. Working to nurture crop diversification, conservation, and eliminate the need for insecticides, founder Oscar Harding is one of the leading lights in an industry otherwise focussed on intensive input and mass output. Oscar has fantastic rapport among chefs in London, and it won’t be long before he does among home-cooks too.
4. Calixta Killander at Flourish Produce
The tractor. A farmer’s favourite tool? Not so much when it comes with a carbon footprint, emits fumes onto crops, and is fairly aggressive on the soil. That’s why Calixta Killander, the farmer who owns Flourish Produce, has given up on them, employing two draught horses, Bill and Ben, to work the land (and fertilise it) instead. Calixta believes it’s the most efficient and economical way of farming. One which she uses to grow forgotten or unusual crops such as Castelfranco, puntarelle, Chinese red meat radish, and purple daikon. Set up in 2017, Flourish Produce supplies some of London’s best restaurants from Kiln in Soho to Brat in Shoreditch, and is set to have biodynamic accreditation by 2021.
5. Sean Brock
Sean Brock is already well-established as one of the US’ most recognised talents in the kitchen. The James Beard award-winning chef has been nominated in the same awards seven other times, and his best-selling cookbook, Heritage, is similarly well-decorated. Sean is big on preserving heirloom ingredients, championing fading traditions and forgotten ingredients, and connecting people with where their food comes from. Late in 2019 comes his follow-up cookbook in the form of Sean Brock’s South: Recipes from My Home Kitchen, promising more wisdom. Be sure to look out for him on popular Netflix series, Chef’s Table, in the new year.
6. Horton House Farm
There’s a lot going on at Horton House’s patch in Wiltshire. 100% pasture-fed cattle. Mob grazing. Cow-with-calf dairy. Joel Salatin-style pastured hens. Jonny and Rachel Rider are committed to contributing to managing the farm in a healthy, regenerative synergy. If regenerative agriculture is set to be a rising trend for 2019, then Horton House is a real-life example.
7. Earth Station
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That's it – our first beer is officially out in the world! Launched this weekend @ Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival… you can now look for it in wherever delicious liquids are sold. Thanks to @weare_beer @pressuredropbrw @heriotwattuni as well as all the Amazing women who came along on the day! #edinburghcraftbeerfestival #rhubarbausersguide
Ex-Beavertown Brewer, Jenn Merrick has worked away on this little community project in North Woolwich Royal Docks for some time now. Worried about the gentrifying tendencies new breweries seem to have, Earth Station wants to help the less advantaged – from young ethnic minorities to single mums – get a foot on the brewer’s career ladder. After working on a few collaborations with Fuller’s and Pressure Drop among others, various arms of the project are already a-go, but in 2019 the initiative will come to fruition in its entirety.
8. Cat Gazzoli
Having started Piccolo, the fastest growing baby food brand in the UK since it was founded in 2016, Cat Gazzoli is a force to be reckoned with. “When I had my daughter five years ago, I realised there was a real gap in the market for a delicious and healthy organic baby food company. I began really wanting to start doing my own thing and scratch my entrepreneurial itch!”. Not content with producing award-winning, Med-inspired baby food, Cat has gone on to launch Piccolo’s sister charity, The Food Education Foundation, to give parents the confidence to understand where their food comes from and how to feed their kids healthily. With Piccolo growing year on year, and 10% of profits going back into food education, we’ll only see more of Cat’s inspiring work in 2019.
Those are the heroes. These are the food and farming trends worth following in 2019.