Blooming Brilliant Head Cheffing!
Is West End Flower Farm, Froyle, near Alton, Hampshire’s answer to Petersham Nurseries? Will and Bella are the fourth-generation of Butlers to run West End Flower Farm, and they are on a journey to work with plants in as sustainable a manner as possible. This is an ethos reflected in their farm shop, packed full of locally grown vegetables, locally farmed trout, local cheeses and more, and a kitchen that uses seasonal and local produce as much as possible. Hence the arrival of Ollie Moore as Head Chef last April to oversee the restaurant’s reopening post-lockdown.
Ollie was attracted by West End Flower Farm’s uniqueness and could see the potential. Indeed, he is a natural fit, describing his influences as the land, the sea and Mother Nature, and he has an interest in Nordic and Scandinavian styles of cooking as they focus on wild and natural cooking methods.
Ollie’s culinary journey started when he was just 16. His first job was for a nursing home, however within two years he was chef de partie for a Michelin starred restaurant in Jersey. For the following 12 years he worked at three rosette or one star level establishments – achieving his own Michelin star when he was 26. Meanwhile, Ollie considers his career highlights to be working in New York and Morocco, and achieving a cook score of six in the Good Food Guide. He tends to have a signature style, rather than a signature dish, although he adds: “You can’t go wrong with slow-cooked chicken wings, crab and sweetcorn risotto!”
Reflecting on West End Flower Farm, he explains: “It’s a relaxed environment, but we are offering a high standard of food, and surrounded by flowers, of course. One of the perks of having a 60-acre site is that we grow a lot of our own produce, from the flowers in the polytunnels to berries around the lake. We are on a mission to create a local food scene in the area.”
Since April, Ollie has changed the restaurant’s ethos to reflect his knowledge and experience. So, what’s next for this fragrant secret garden in a quiet corner of Hampshire?
Ollie says, “We’re building a great team and looking at exciting cookery courses for 2022 including demos, firepit cookery, possibly a food festival and reigniting the local food scene!”
The restaurant at West End Flower Farm is open Wednesday to Saturday, 9.30am-3.30pm; booking for brunch (Saturday) and lunch (Wednesday to Saturday) is essential. Dinner is available (6.30pm-9pm) certain Fridays, including 15th October, 10th and 17th December.
Portrait shots of Ollie Moore thanks to @hannahberryphotography.