October 23, 2017

Our operations team is on a journey of discovery. Over the last few months, the team has been exploring the many artisan producers who are based within a couple of miles of our catering operations in Cambridgeshire and West Riding.

We have teamed up with two food tour companies – Cambridge Food Tour in Cambridgeshire and Malton Food Tour in West Yorkshire– and invited clients to accompany us to meet local producers.

These include everything from artisan cheese makers, microbreweries and organic gin distillers to butchers, bakers and gelato makers.

With over 250 individual suppliers already on our books, many of whom are independent growers and producers, we are clearly committed to local sourcing and provenance but, as Alan Beddie, managing director of Wilson Vale, explains, there’s always room for more.

“The food tours have opened our eyes to the wonderful talent that’s literally a stone’s throw from many of our commercial kitchens,” he said.

“Whilst not all may be suitable as potential suppliers, the experience of meeting the artisans behind the food and tasting their products is inspirational and exciting. It’s about building links with the local community and recognising the wonderful skills and traditions that are on the doorstep. Our clients are equally enthusiastic and are often amazed to discover that these hidden gems are in their immediate neighbourhood.

“Above all, it reminds our clients and our staff who we are and demonstrates to all that we are a fresh food business with an ethos of local supply and seasonality. Local isn’t a trend for us; it’s part of our DNA.

” A unique aspect of Wilson Vale is that all of our operations managers are craft-trained chefs, including Alan Beddie. “Once a chef, always a chef,” said Alan Beddie.

“We live and breathe great food so to have the opportunity to go on these food tours is an absolute joy. Our plan is to invite our chef managers and their clients to take part also as it’s a fantastic way of engaging with people and strengthening our relationships further through a shared love of great food.”

“There’s a networking and educational aspect to the food tours also which we value highly. Meeting the people who make products and having an opportunity to discuss their challenges and traditional and non-traditional techniques is a great way of building relationships and learning new skills. The food tours often trigger ideas too on how we can relate elements of their work into the foodservice sector. We get to sample new products and it’s clear that many of our clients are as keen as we are to invite some of the producers to become suppliers to our business,” said Alan.

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