Carly Redgers went to meet a dynamic duo to learn more about their supper club series…
A multi-awarding winning food company set up in 2016, The Bridge Lodge was co-founded by Angus & Lilly while studying for their finals at university. Having always loved walking through the Lodge’s ancient woodlands, identifying and foraging the wild foods along the way, they both decided, why not share it with others?
Tell us a little bit about yourselves:
Our passion for local, seasonal and foraged foods stemmed from setting up our small food company, The Bridge Lodge Company. It was created to bring the natural flavours of the landscape to life and promote the use of wild ingredients. It was also during our university years, when we both worked in an Oxford College catering for formal dining events that had as many as 250 people an evening, we really got used to the pace and formalities of a large catering event. We then attended a brilliant cookery course at River Cottage in Devon that gave us the confidence to go ahead with cooking for large numbers of people using seasonal and local ingredients.
What inspired you to start your supper club series?
We’ve always wanted to do supper clubs. They were a way for us to show people what can be done with foraged and seasonal ingredients. At the start of every supper club we do, we go through the entire menu to tell the guests where and how it was foraged, plus how we cooked it so they at home can try it as well. We also wanted to show off the amazing array of ingredients we have in North Wales and how tasty foraged foods are. Charlie Gladstone, the founder of The Good Life Experience and the Hawarden Estate Farm Shop suggested to us that we host our supper clubs at the farm shop, which has been a great success so far and we are very grateful to him for the opportunity.
What makes Welsh cuisine so special?
To answer that question you really need to understand Wales’ unique landscape and the people who work in the food industry. Take Halen Môn and their founders, Alison and David, for example.They source their incredible sea salt from the Menai Strait, a stretch of water that is completely unique in the British Isles for its tidal flow. Alison and David themselves are true salts of the earth as well. Two people who are both driven to create the best sea salt in the world and important representatives for the wider promotion of Welsh food. So for us, Welsh food is really defined by the passion the producers have for the landscape and their food and the harmony between the two. Welsh food isn’t trying to be something it’s not, its rugged, effortless and simply delicious, the ingredients and passion of the cooks really define the dishes. It’s a real celebration of the Welsh Landscape and where the food is from.
Where do you source your local ingredients?
We forage for all our wild ingredients along the banks of the River Dee. You would be amazed how much you can find if you keep your eyes peeled on a slow, ambling walk – there is something edible to find every few metres. We source our other ingredients from local and Welsh food producers, such as, Calon Wen, for our milk and butter, Mountain Produce in Minera for our seasonal salads, The Mushroom Garden, Snowdonia for Mushrooms and Halen Môn for sea salt. We’ve also sourced cheeses from some brilliant cheesemakers too such as Caws Cenarth for their Perl Las, Pont Gar, Holden Farm’s Hafod cheese and the Snowdonia Cheese Company. All the meats we use are organic and free-range from small producers in Wales and across the border in Shropshire and Cheshire, which is still local to us as we are based near the border of both!
Who would you like to cook for? Tell us your ideal dinner party guest list…
That’s a tough one! We would have to say Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for his know- how, Monty Don to advise us on his best tips to grow veg in the garden, if they were
still alive the painter John Constable for his conversation on the British landscape and the poet John Clare for his observation on the natural world, Beatrix Potter, Johnny Flynn for the music and lastly our families of course – in particular our mums who have been our biggest inspiration in the kitchen. We’d like it to be cosy and intimate rather than loud!
What can you reveal about your up-coming fifth supper
We can’t tell you much at this stage about the next supper but it’s going to be a collaborative evening with another young Welsh creative! It’ll be a bit different to our last few suppers too. We will, of course, be using Welsh, seasonal and foraged ingredients throughout the meal as this is always our focus when coming up with the menus.
What ‘wild and foraged’ ingredients will you be using?
We’ll be using seasonal summer ingredients such as the beautifully delicious array of edible flowers that will be available to pick from the hedgerows and woodland edges, summer really has such an abundance of ingredients so the list could go on and on! We’ll be including wild rose, elderflower, dandelion leaves and flowers, garlic mustard, nettle, cleavers, wild water mint… We’ve been pickling and preserving ingredients along the way too, such as Wild Garlic and Hawthorn Buds and Beech leaves. From the garden we’ll pick nasturtium and borage and the herbs we’ve been growing, all planted earlier this year.
What advice would you give a cooking enthusiast?
You can never add too many herbs and spices, I really think seasonings are the key to making a tasty dish, garlic and salt also make dishes sing! Get to know your ingredients, its great to respect everything on the plate, how it was grown, how it was raised, what cut of meat you are using and where it came from, it means you can really think about how to make a thoughtfully, tasty dish that you can be proud of. Share your cooking with others, it will give you the confidence to try more recipes out and use different ingredients to impress your family and friends. n
For more information, visit thebridgelodge.co.uk
Follow their food journey on Instagram @thebridgelodge
Chef Shaun will be hosting the next taster menu on 2nd April which will include savoury dishes like a gin cured salmon served with cucumber jelly, soda bread croutons with tonic gel and lime pearls. And, for the sweet tooth, enjoy a lemon and rose posset with rhubarb honey and shortbread.
For more information about Shaun and his taster sessions, visit the Ty Llywelyn Community Centre on Facebook.
To volunteer, email email@example.com or phone 01492 873412