September 13, 2018

Here's Johns Interviews from the Abergavenny Food Festvial,

Jane Scotter


Fern Verrow is a 16-acre certified biodynamic farm at the foothills of the Black Mountains in Herefordshire. Jane Scotter and Harry Astley have been farming this land since 1996, cultivating a wide range of truly seasonal vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers.

Our approach to what we grow is informed by what we enjoy cooking and eating. We have found that vegetables and fruit grown in good soil, at the right time of year and open to the elements have greatly enhanced character and flavour. Size and shape were unimportant when compared to taste and true quality.

For many years we sold our produce at a market in London, but since 2015 we have been in a farm-to-table collaboration with chef Skye Gyngell and her restaurant, Spring, in Somerset House, London.

We also supply weekly Fern Verrow produce boxes and flowers to private customers.

For more information please contact us by email.


Allan Jenkins


Allan Jenkins is the award-winning editor of Observer Food Monthly. He was previously editor of the Observer Magazine, food and drink editor on the Independent newspaper and once lived in an experimental eco-community on Anglesey, growing organic food on the edge of the Irish Sea. He is the co-author of Fish, the J. Sheekey Cookbook, and lives in north-west London.

Allan Jenkins’ beautifully written, haunting memoir, Plot 29 is a meditation on seeds and siblings. Yet it’s also a celebration of the joy to be found in sharing flowers and food with someone you love.

In his latest book, Morning, Allan shows how getting up earlier once a week or month can free us to be more imaginative, to maybe read, to walk, to write. He talks to other early risers such as Jamie Oliver and Samuel West, to poets and painters. We hear from a Neuroscientist about sleep, a philosopher about dawn, a fisherman about light. Allan wakes early, he listens, he looks. He introduces us to a secret world.


Marc Demarquette


Marc Demarquette was born in 1972 to a French Father and Chinese mother in London, where he was raised before spending his educational years in Bath.

Following his undergraduate and post graduate studies at the universities if Brighton and Westminster, he started out his career as a management consultant, a serious accident then made him re-think his priorities and he decided to leave the consultancy world in order to pursue a lifelong passion he had – Chocolate!

Marc was introduced to a good quality fine chocolate from a very early age when his French grandmother would treat him to the finest chocolates made by Gaston Lenôtre when she visited him in London. He was fascinated by the great varieties in tastes and textures and admired the creativity of M. Lenôtre whom he would later meet personally during his training as a chocolatier.

His quest started with in-depth training at the prestigious Maison Lenôtre in Paris, where he was taught by world Masters and acquired the fine art of making artisan chocolates. He further fine-tuned his expert skills by learning with a number of Master Chocolatiers in France.

From the outset, his vision was to create exquisite hand-made chocolates, which are inspired by his cultural background, and the inspiration he seeks from the surrounding community.

His culture and experiences have inspired him to make the finest quality chocolates containing a wealth of superior ingredients sourced to the highest standards to ensure only the best is used, that on tasting will transport you back to magical experiences you have had and exotic places you have dreamed about.

These exquisite flavours will trigger your aspirations and have you marvelling at the combinations we use to tantalise your taste buds.

As well as freshly hand-making his fine chocolates for sale through the online boutique, Marc was commissioned by Fortnum & Mason within just one year, to be the only permanently named and featured chocolatier within the store. He has created the ‘Fortnum & Mason Bespoke Selection’ of chocolates using a variety of the famous store’s exclusive ingredients with exciting new flavours regularly being created and introduced.


David and Alison Lea-Wilson

Having made their living from the sea for over forty years, with more than twenty of those making sea salt, they’ve learnt a thing or two about this seasoning – why it’s important, why we need it, how to make it, and perhaps most crucially, how to use it.


Jonathan Carthew


Jo and Jonathan Carthew founded Black Mountains Smokery in 1996. They are a family business based in the heart of the Brecon Beacons where their Crickhowell smokery delivers the very best artisan smoked fish, meats and cheese, as well as a wonderful range of smoked food gifts and luxury hampers.

Their fresh produce, carefully handpicked for its quality, provenance and sustainability, is traditionally cured and gently smoked over Welsh oak for enriched flavour and unique taste, and perfectly balances an artisan process with a consistently high quality product.


James Swift


James Swift is a historian turned artisanal charcuterie producer who loves leftover-cooking. Fifteen years ago he spearheaded the development of charcuterie-making in the UK by setting up Trealy Farm Charcuterie on his own farm at the time, in Monmouthshire, South Wales. Born to an English dad and a French mother and growing up in rural Sussex on a small farm where all the family’s vegetables, fruit and dairy products were produced at home – but none of the meat, James developed a love for cured meats at the table of his French granny near Calais, who would feed the little boy with slices of Saucisson Sec and farm-made charcuterie during his frequent visits. Years later, after having forged a successful career in education in London but then moved back to the countryside in Monmouthshire wanting to set up a food business, his first love, he went on a quest across Europe learning the traditional charcuterie methods of curing, smoking and air drying, painstakingly gathering techniques and processes, interviewing producers and studying the microbiology of meat curing, fermentation and drying in Germany.

On the continent artisanal producers seemed to know how to make amazing charcuterie but often, James found, they couldn’t transmit their knowledge with the scientific precision needed to produce air-dried charcuterie in a different climate (they didn’t need to!). Having thoroughly picked continental European brains, James started making his vision of British charcuterie in Wales – tapping into the quality of free-range and wild meat this country has to offer.

13 years on Trealy Farm Charcuterie has won more major food awards than any other food producer in the UK, including the BBC UK Food Producer of the Year and Observer Best UK Food Producer, offering a unique varied range of over 30 products and supplying some of the top restaurants in the country. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall crowned their creations ‘the best artisan charcuterie in the UK’.

To this day James still goes to Farmers’ Markets to sell his products regularly and still can’t go a day without nibbling at – now of his own making – Saucisson Sec.


Freddy Bird


Freddy Bird is the Executive Head Chef of the award-winning and unique Lido restaurant in Bristol and its sister restaurants The Glassboat and Three Brothers Burgers also located in the heart of Bristol.

From its launch in 2008, Freddy has developed his unique take on Moorish and Mediterranean cooking in the kitchens at The Lido. He has a distinctly relaxed and pretension-free approach to cooking and dining and gives particular focus to the provenance of his ingredients and often uses his own foraged foods. Freddy is a lover of the outdoors and is often be found cooking over fire outdoors and indoors.

Freddy’s restaurants have received critical acclaim and many national awards including the Observer Food Monthly Awards and The National Restaurant Awards.

Freddy recently appeared on our TV screens as a presenter on Michel Roux Jr’s Channel 4 show Hidden Restaurants which was devoted to unearthing remote and secretive eateries across the UK.

Srdja Mastilovic


Currently working at Neal’s Yard Dairy as Wholesale Manager, Srdja has been with the company since 2003, learning about the art of cheese making and mongering. Srdja represented Britain at the 2009 Casseus Awards, the Cheese Olympics in Lyon and came home with a bronze medal. Last year he won the Cheesemonger Invitational and the chance to represent British Cheesemongers in the US. He is a geek for all things fermented.