Savouring the seasons: a guide to local and seasonal food sourcing
by Thomas Law, Head Chef at Prithvi
In hospitality and fine dining, the pursuit of excellence often leads chefs to discover the art of sourcing local and seasonal ingredients.
It’s a journey that reveals an array of natural treasures awaiting exploration with the changing of each month.
From venturing into the great outdoors to establishing connections with local suppliers, seasonal and local food sourcing is both diverse and rewarding.
The hedgerows that are around in the countryside are a treasure trove of free and available ingredients, with each month offering its unique gifts.
In spring, wild garlic emerges, its vibrant green leaves adding a delightful twist to dishes.
As summer arrives, elderflowers bloom, inviting us to create fragrant cordials and desserts.
Autumn brings a harvest of blackberries, perfect for pies and preserves.
It’s a reminder that nature’s pantry is filled with seasonal delights, just waiting to be discovered!
One of the foundational aspects of sourcing ingredients in this way is the cultivation of relationships with local providers.
Butchers and farmers, while often overshadowed, play pivotal roles in the world of seasonal food sourcing.
These local heroes tend to stock fresh, regional delicacies rather than the mass-imported goods that larger supermarkets often rely on to meet year-round demand.
By forging these connections with local providers, chefs open doors to a world of seasonal and fresh ingredients.
Such collaborations not only invigorate local economies but also diminish the carbon footprint associated with long-distance transportation, aligning with a commitment to environmental sustainability.
Harvesting the essence of each season
Nature follows its own cadence, bestowing each season with its unique harvest.
Spring marks the time of tender lambs, while autumn offers the rich and savoury flavours of deer.
Recognising these shifts allows chefs to create menus that resonate with the rhythm of nature itself.
It’s an important way of honouring the cycles of the natural world and celebrating the diversity it brings to our culinary offerings.
For over a decade, I’ve turned to “Seasonal Food” by Paul Waddington as a guide in my culinary journey.
This book serves as a constant source of inspiration, offering insights into the intricate world of food sourcing.
Its wisdom continues to shape my approach, reminding me of the richness and diversity that each time of the year brings to the table.
Preserving seasonal produce
The seasons are not created equal; some are more bountiful and enduring than others.
This diversity necessitates an approach that allows us to make the most of each opportunity.
Preservation techniques, such as pickling, canning, and dehydrating, enable us to capture the essence of a particular time and extend its flavours throughout the year.
Whether we’re preserving the summer’s luscious fruits or creating winter stocks, these methods are essential in ensuring that no aspect of a season’s produce goes to waste.
Commitment to environmental responsibility
Cooking seasonally is a culinary journey marked by responsibility, one that carries a major environmental significance.
The importation of out-of-season ingredients escalates carbon emissions, further contributing to the environmental footprint of the food industry.
By opting for these kinds of ingredients, chefs and consumers collectively contribute to reducing food miles and embracing the concept of food provenance, aligning their culinary choices with a commitment to environmental preservation.
We are grateful to Thomas Law (pictured) for this contribution.
Thomas Law is the Executive Chef at a group of restaurants in Cheltenham including the award-winning Prithvi and Petit Social.
Thomas is a Michelin-trained chef, having had a 15-year journey through the world of fine dining and gastronomy.
His culinary expertise and passion for food have taken him on an adventure from the heart of the UK to fine dining establishments around the globe, including some of the most renowned restaurants in New York City.
From Purnell’s in Birmingham to multiple 1, 2, and 3-star restaurants in NYC, his journey continued at Midsummer House in Cambridge, ventured to the Press Club in Melbourne, and extended to Bentley in Sydney – it was a culinary education that ultimately brought him back to Cheltenham.
Thomas’ philosophy is to allow the essence of each ingredient to shine through and create harmonious, memorable dishes.