Three #ExFF17 restaurants listed among the Top 50 Gastropubs

Today, in the Top 50 Gastropubs Awards, three Exmoor Food Fest gastropubs found out their ranking:  We would like to congratulate The Swan, Bampton, Tarr Farm Inn and The Mason Arms for making the finals of these prestigious industry awards.

The Swan came in on rank 50, Tarr Farm rank 27 and The Mason Arms on rank 15.  We are very proud that these outstanding restaurants are part of the Exmoor Food Fest.  While The Mason Arms have now sold out all #ExFF17 places, get in touch with The Swan and Tarr Farm before they are booked out as well!

Here is some background info on the Top 50 Gastropub Awards:

16406742_639119626276029_8146631059750780189_nThe “Estrella Damm” Top 50 Gastropub Awards are voted for by top foodies and hospitality experts. These include gastropub operators (who can’t vote for their own pubs), food writers, pubco catering development managers and executive chefs, celebrity and top hospitality industry chefs, pub guide editors, industry chiefs and food operators. The voting criteria ensures the list really is decided by the industry.

To find out more, please have a look at the Top 50 Gastropub Awards website.

Exmoor Food Fest to launch at The Castle in Taunton

Award winning chefs from the region are joining The Castle’s head chef on 28 January in Taunton to prepare a mouthwatering Taste of Exmoor menu.  Tickets are limited, so early booking is very advisable:

Canapés & Fizz
Hospitality Students
(The Combe, West Somerset College, Minehead)

Starter
Olivier Certain (Clavelshay Barn, North Petherton)

Slow Roasted Belly of Little Oak Farm Pork, Black Pudding & Quail Scotch Egg, Apple and Cider

Fish Course
Mark Dodson (Mason Arms, Knowstone)

Pan Fried Scallop with a Thai Style Salad, Rice Wine Dressing

Main Course
The Castle Hotel, Taunton

Roast Exmoor Venison Loin, Faggot, Red Cabbage,
Jerusalem Artichoke and Wild Mushrooms

 Dessert
Paul & Donna Berry (The Swan, Bampton)

Lemon Cheesecake with Exmoor Wolf Gin, Tonic and Thyme Sorbet

Petit Fours and Breads
The Castle Hotel

Four course dinner:  £75.00 per person
(including a glass of fizz & 2 glasses of wine)

BOOK NOW

Award winning Exmoor-based chefs are joining The Castle’s head chef Liam Finnegan to cook up a Taste of Exmoor menu as the launch of the 2016 Exmoor Food Fest which takes place all over Exmoor in February.

The menu showcases the best the region has to offer. It is a celebration of local produce and local talent.

Elke Winzer, who is organising the Exmoor Food Fest as part of Exmoor4all, is delighted that so many outstanding chefs are bringing the best of Exmoor to Taunton.

“The launch at the renown Castle in Taunton brings some of the amazing Exmoor chefs together who all take part in the Exmoor Food Fest which takes place all over Exmoor in February.  It is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of the high standard of Exmoor restaurants some of which are hidden gems,” explained Elke.

Liam Finnegan commented: “We are excited to host the launch of the Exmoor Food Fest. It is a great opportunity for us chefs to work together and create a stunning menu.”

Award winning chefs Mark Dodson, Paul and Donna Berry and Olivier Certain  are joined by the hospitality students of the West Somerset College training restaurant The Combe in Minehead. The students will prepare the selection of canapés which will open then night’s food celebration with a glass of fizz.

The Chefs:

Mark Dodson

Mark and his wife Sarah took over the The Mason Arms in Knowstone in June 2005. In July 2006, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star which they still hold. Since then, Mark and his team have gone from strength to strength, receiving many awards and accolades, including Michelin Pub of the Year 2010.

Prior to moving to Exmoor, Mark spent twelve years as Head Chef of Michel Roux’s Waterside Inn in Bray.

Paul and Donna Berry

There aren’t many awards Paul and Donna haven’t won for their historic pub “The Swan” in Bampton.  Best Trencherman’s Pub of the Year 2016, Visit Devon Pub of the Year Gold Award, and AA Gold Star Award are amongst the most recent accolades, recognising Paul’s and Donna’s passion for food and the use of local, seasonal produce.

Liam Finnegan

Liam Finnegan, who has been head chef at The Castle Hotel in Taunton for three years, grew up in Carlingford, Co Louth in Ireland from where he still sources their famous oysters. However, whenever possible, he uses local suppliers.

Liam’s career path took him through some fantastic restaurants such as The George Hotel on the Isle of White, The Bath Priory and Gidleigh Park where he worked for Micheal Cains, and The Nuremore Hotel (Ray McArdle). When asked about awards Liam counters that a full restaurant and happy customers are more important. “Of course accolades are brilliant, but anything we get, we receive and share as a team.”

Olivier Certain

Marseille-born Olivier moved to Somerset in 1998 following his Michelin star training in La Bonne Etape Chateau Arnoux and Les Roches in Le Lavandou.  In 2006 he joined Woods in Dulverton as head chef where he achieved 2 rosettes and the accolade of Somerset Dining Pub of the Year 2008, 2010 and 2011. In 2009 in reached the finals of the South West Chef of the Year competition.

Olivier now heads the kitchen at Clavelshay Barn in North Petherton.

The Students

The Year 13 hospitality students from train at West Somerset College, Minehead under Chef Lecturers Paul Ruttledge (a former British Master Chef) and Werner Hartholt.