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Somerset County Cricket Club: Local food is best

PUBLISHED: 12:08 14 November 2016

A true Somerset carvery © Alain Lockyer

A true Somerset carvery © Alain Lockyer

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Richard Walsh speaks to the people behind the food at Somerset County Cricket Club

Somerset County Cricket Club takes great pride in the food that it serves to guests at the Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton, where over a 12-month period the dining rooms and hospitality boxes serve well in excess of 50,000 meals.

Head chef Simon Safe is very particular and goes out of his way to ensure that he only serves the very best of what is available to him and his team of chefs to cook and takes a pride in making sure that as much of what he serves is as local as it possibly can be.

Simon says: “Local produce is very important to us as at Somerset County Cricket and wherever we possibly can we source as much of our food as close to the ground as we can.

“Living as we do in a predominantly rural location we are most fortunate in being able to make sure the vast majority of our food is locally produced.”

Over the years Somerset County Cricket Club has built up quite a reputation for the quality of its carvery lunch, which is a big favourite on both championship and Royal London One Day Cup matchdays, as well as on Sundays throughout the winter.

“Our main butcher is Alan Hembrow who is based at Monkton Heathfield. I have been at Somerset now for 20 years and he has been supplying us for more than 30 years. His beef and his lamb comes from farms on Exmoor, and all of his meat is sourced from within the county borders,” says Simon.

“He delivers to me everyday, in fact 24/7, I even have his home number so if I ever get caught in a difficult spot then he will open his shop for me so we can sort it out and I can get what I need.

“Alan is a fantastic butcher and really knows his stuff. He is what I call ‘old school’ and always supplies us with exactly what we want. He looks out specially for what I like to serve so I can’t fault him in any way and we are very happy.”

Somerset CCC gets all its fresh vegetables from West Country Foods, which is also locally based.

Simon says: “West Country Foods supply our fruit and vegetables and they are based in Wellington. They always go out of their way to ensure that as much of what they supply us with is grown within the locality. We have been using them now for getting on for eight years.

“In our carvery, which is popular on match days and right throughout the year, we serve all fresh local vegetables and we promote it as that. We don’t use frozen vegetables so local suppliers are very important to us.”

The chef’s link with West Country foods goes back even further.

“My Dad used to work for Nigel Hooper, who is one of the owner’s father’s fruit and veg company and I have probably known Nigel since I was about 10.

“I ring West Country Foods up and it delivers to the ground on a daily basis so everything that we eat at the ground is as locally sourced and as fresh as it possibly can be.”

On matchdays and on Sundays throughout the winter the Carvery Lunch in the dining room at the Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton gets booked out and no wonder, given the quality of the fare that is on offer.

As far as Somerset County Cricket Club is concerned local is certainly the best and the happy guests are there to prove it!

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