The Sportsman’s winning ingredients: Cream
Here’s how a simple, unadulterated dairy product changed the way the award-winning chef Stephen Harris cooked
In the early 1990s, Stephen Harris had a plate of fruit tart and cream which would have the same life-changing effect on him as punk rock had. Harris gone on to create one of Britain's greatest restaurants, The Sportsman, yet at this point he was a disillusioned financial consultant, treating himself to a meal at the Bibendum restaurant in London - and the cream in question? It was raw Jersey. He had never tasted such delightful dairy produce. It was vividly redolent of its rural origins - “farmyards, iron and roses.” He was told the cream originated from a farm in the Weald of Kent. He resolved to seek it out.
After landing a head chef’s job in Kent, he visited the farm listed on the side of the tub of cream: the White House farm in nearby Biddenden. He drove there and met a nice lady called Rosemary Sergeant who showed him round. He was confronted with the sight of beautiful Jersey cows, grazing contently on lush, verdant grass.
No wonder the cream had been so authentically exquisite. He wondered, as a chef how he could possibly compete with such unpasteurised, magnificent produce as the cream that came from these cows? He decided not to try. He resolved thereafter to create recipes from ingredients that exuded and showcased that local, natural quality – not just cream but strawberries, elderflowers, and game - and not to let his own ego or technique get in the way.
The dairy epiphany has helped Harris turn his seaside pub, The Sportsman into a team GB, world-class restaurant. For more on this remarkable chef, his recipes and his restaurant order a copy of The Sportsman here.