Imagine trying to create a local fish feast in London. Catch a trout from the waterways, pick a crab out of the mud, add some shore-based vegetables and voila! It may sound unusual but that’s exactly what chef Philip Cooper has done. Philip, who has worked alongside the likes of Raymond Blanc and Michel Roux Jr over the course of his 30-year career, has launched #riverfood, ‘a restaurant pop-up with a difference’.
#riverfood highlights the value of sourcing ingredients locally by using only produce found in UK rivers, especially the Thames Estuary. Dishes include Old Father Thames smoked pike with seashore vegetables, Jack pike sausage with green peppercorn and puy lentils, and Lou’s steamed cockles with Meantime pale ale and samphire.
As #riverfood shows, it’s very difficult to limit your offering to a small geographical area, hence they’re using ingredients from rivers all over the UK rather than just the Thames. It’s an interesting concept, and with 125 species of edible fish in the UK, there should be no shortage of potential dishes.
The reality is that sourcing is always a balancing act: source locally and support British suppliers when great quality, in-season ingredients are available; and source elsewhere to ensure access to great ingredients all year round alongside a diverse range of ingredients, spices, coffee, Fairtrade bananas etc. After all, even that fish curry in the Maldives will be washed down with a refreshing imported beer.