a country that has embraced the concept of organic food,
The Food Rooms, can be found in the small East Sussex
town of Battle. Based in an eighteenth century recycled
chapel, organic and sustainably produced foods have
found a home for worshipers of a new religion...
Toby Peters opened his restaurant/shop, The Food Rooms
in October 2000. Opening in rural British villages can
be a pretty hit or miss affair with the number of failures
far out weighing the successes, The Food Rooms has thus
far proved to be the latter.
The separating factor between The Food Rooms and other
organic retail establishments is the level headed understanding
Peters displays with local (sustainable) produce outweighing
certified organic. Using a chain of over 100 local producers
it makes much more sense to buy Mrs. de Quincy's local
apples, than use certified organic apples flow in from
New Zealand. Even if she has treated her apples to fob
off the pests, using the locally produced fruit still
makes more sense for the planet and the product. This
is Peters' "trace the taste" concept, knowing
the farm or small holding that grew the item.
A social conscience is something many hospitality professionals
develop as they become more immersed in the business,
in Peters' case the reverse is true. Prior to joining
the glorious world of food and beverage he worked as
a freelance photo' journalist. Working on foreign social
issues including land mines and poverty in international
hot spots ranging from Angola, Rwanda, Bosnia, Romania
and through South America. During this time he founded
with Josie Masters a charity based in Peru called Hand
in Hand. The charity provides nurseries and helps street
kids with training courses, assisting over 150 children.
Ten percent of The Food Room's profits go to the charity.
Peters is proud of what he and his team have been able
to achieve at this point, he describes his shop restaurant
as a "conduit", a "move away from the
sterile food market, where innovation is driven by passion
and enjoyment, revenue is a by product of this not the
focus". In fact the shop offers products to suit
every budget, the staff will gladly cut a cabbage in
half for a penny watching pensioner or shave fresh black
truffles for a city slicker that is spending the weekend
at their country retreat.
One of the most farmer friendly projects The Food Rooms
has introduced is a collection service. This idea enables
the farms to harvest their crops and not worry about
getting it to the shop, giving the farmers the two key
things that they need to succeed; revenue and time to
spend at the wheel of their tractors not the wheel of
the delivery van.
The same product that is being sold in the shop is
also being prepared and
cooked in the restaurant kitchen. Whether you chose
Chicken a la Fermier, Braised Fennel & Sun Blush
Tomatoes, chef Neil Sadler's French based eclectic style
continues to build the bridge between the farmer and
the people. Cooking dishes that make the flavors shine
and not be masked. In its first year of business The
Food Rooms was named one of the 'U.K's top ten reviewed
restaurants 2000' by The Independent (British newspaper).
Culinary creativity is given further depth with the
input of the very French looking Joel Lurois. Lurois's
skills lie in his food and cooking knowledge, helping
to coach the shop's customers with how to use the products
and persuading the farmers to grow some old forgotten
This year the restaurant will open for dinner and provide
some modest out side dining. The Food Rooms will continue
to build on its catering business and offer a banqueting
venue hosting large events in a refurbished church in
nearby Hawkhust, increasing the platform for local farmers
to showcase their product. They will look for new shop/restaurant
venues and continue to give money to charity.......
The Food Rooms, High Street, Battle, East Sussex.
Telephone (UK) - 01424 775537