Providing information on organic food and farming in Wales
Roger Stevens is our Chef Champion.
A veteran of over 40 years in the catering industry, Roger, along with his wife Emma run a small country hotel in mid Wales, where sustainability is not just a 'buzz-word', but has become central to the ethos of everything they do.
Having worked in numerous hotels and restaurants, including an extended period in London's West End, Roger decided to take a sabbatical at the age of 40, during which time he helped build up a successful business that specialised in artisan cheeses. The venture saw him strike up a friendship with the late James Aldridge, a man seen by many as a key figure in the revival of specialist British cheesemaking in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Roger's decision to return to the hotel trade, this time as both owner and chef, was underpinned by the desire to set new standards in ethical and sustainable tourism. The Lasswade Country House Hotel, located in Llanwrtyd Wells, between the Cambrian Mountains and the Brecon Beacons, was the first in Wales to join the Considerate Hoteliers Association and has won numerous awards for its approach to local sourcing, environmental awareness and green tourism.
The hotel runs its own kitchen garden on site and a cottage garden nearby where it grows soft fruit and herbs that feature, alongside locally foraged produce, on the highly seasonal menu. Organic toiletries are provided for guests and a trusted network of local and organic suppliers deliver meat, fresh fish, vegetables and, of course, cheese to Roger's kitchen where he works his magic;
“It is not just about serving organic food to our guests,” explains Roger. “It is about adopting and maintaining an ethos which says that sourcing local produce that is produced in the right way is important, both in maintaining quality but also for animal welfare and protecting the wider environment.
“Working with producers who have an organic certification is also a fantastic way of guaranteeing traceability – something that the conventional food industry seems to have lost its way on a little. I love visiting food fairs and farmers' markets as a way of trying new things and meeting new suppliers and there are great examples in Wales of producers who aren't afraid to experiment with different tastes and varieties.
“Most of what we do is really for our own satisfaction but there are customers who believe in what we are doing and actively seek out hotels and restaurants that are committed to the same principles. Some of our customers that simply come and stay with us for our location for example, are surprised when we talk to them about where our food comes from and it does make them feel good to be eating and supporting local produce.
“I do feel that it is important to keep talking to people and explaining our ethos and why we believe that organic farming and sustainable sourcing is important. The more people that help us share this, the greater the positive impact will be on our planet, whether that results in better animal welfare, protecting our bee and butterfly populations, or even our children gaining a better understanding of where their food comes from, we will feel that we have done our little bit to help.”
Meet the the other champions!
Organic Centre Wales, IBERS, Gogerddan Campus
Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, SY23 3EB
T:01970 622248 E: firstname.lastname@example.org