New and updated
As part of the Kitchen Garden series: Leading by example.
- 8 locations
- Bee brilliance
- Magnificent menus
- 25-mile menu
- Garden tours
- Minimal food waste
EMILY MAULE & MATILDA RILEY
Ollie Hutson – Head Kitchen Gardener
Our second interview within the Kitchen Garden series has eight beautiful locations across southern England, remarkable kitchen gardens are setting new standards for the hospitality industry with their local and seasonal menus.
We were able to steal Ollie Hutson away from the garden momentarily to learn more about how and why The PIG is prioritising these particular agricultural practices.
At the very heart of these “restaurants with rooms” is the kitchen garden and 25-mile menu ethos, which were established even before the naming and branding of the organisation. Ollie told us that on every plate that leaves each kitchen, there will be something from the hotel’s own kitchen garden.
The PIG operates with a 25-mile menu (Ollie says for approximately 90% of their menu) in order to bring a unique dining experience to guests, where the menu changes daily (sometimes even during the day!) depending on what is in season and what needs to be harvested.
“The relationship between gardener and chef is crucial.”
“People are becoming more aware of food-miles, they like to see where their food is grown.”
Ollie spoke passionately about the relationship between gardener and chef and how crucial the dialogue is between them. The communication and alignment here allows the chefs to be both proactive and reactive to what the garden is producing. And as Ollie reminded us, farming requires the ability to react quickly in order to minimise waste.
The PIG Hotels really try to manage any excess creatively, whether that is through drying, preserving, smoking or donating produce. During lockdown, some produce was even being donated to a local wildlife reserve for the gorilla! And so, through their careful management of their produce and through collaborating with many wonderful local suppliers, the chefs are able to create a truly magnificent menu.
The ethos and values of The PIG Hotels is evident throughout and is clearly a real attraction for guests. Guests can visit the kitchen gardens and see exactly where their food has come from, which is made particularly clear through Ollie’s preference for clear and obvious harvesting. Ollie explained that guests can see the succession of crops in the garden and so see how the plants mature, ready for harvesting.
The bees are also a highlight, with Ollie’s wife, Jo Macina, being the organisation’s principal beekeeper. The honey is the focus, but the pollination services that accompany are so important for each local environment where the bees are.
With two new and exciting properties in the pipeline, The PIG is continuing to set new standards for how we eat (and sleep – the rooms are also incredible).
And on Ollie’s recommendation, we will be looking up Chilean Guava (“murta” in Chilean Spanish) and Sprouting Cavolo Nero for our home gardens next.