We have a chat with South Stacks cater­ing man­ager about the im­por­tance of lo­cal and eth­i­cal food

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IF you visit the café at RSPB South Stack you can be as­sured that fresh lo­cal food is on the menu, af­ter it achieved a Bronze ‘Food for Life Served Here’ award from the Soil As­so­ci­a­tion.

The Soil As­so­ci­a­tion was founded in 1946 by farm­ers, sci­en­tists, doc­tors and nu­tri­tion­ists to pro­mote the con­nec­tion be­tween the health of the soil, food, an­i­mals, peo­ple and the en­vi­ron­ment. Today the Soil As­so­ci­a­tion is the UK’s lead­ing mem­ber­ship char­ity cam­paign­ing for healthy, hu­mane and sus­tain­able food, farm­ing and land use.

As a con­ser­va­tion char­ity, the RSPB is keen to lead by ex­am­ple when it comes to serv­ing food that makes a dif­fer­ence to our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. This means re­duc­ing the im­pact of na­ture re­serve cater­ing on the en­vi­ron­ment, for ex­am­ple cut­ting the high car­bon emis­sions usu­ally in­volved in trans­port­ing food over long dis­tances.

Eluned Jones has been the Cater­ing Man­ager at RSPB South Stack since March 2013 and serves up a true taste of Anglesey.

De­scribe a day work­ing in a café that’s sit­u­ated on a cliff side in one of the most breath­tak­ing lo­ca­tions on Anglesey?

When you ar­rive at work in the morn­ing you in­stantly feel that you’re in a very spe­cial place. Work­ing in the kitchen is very dif­fer­ent through the sea­sons; in the sum­mer we are very busy and in the win­ter the pace of life in the kitchen is slower. I have a bril­liant team of lo­cal staff work­ing with me in the kitchen and we all ap­pre­ci­ate how lucky we are to be able to work at such a won­der­ful and unique lo­ca­tion.

How did RSPB South Stack at­tain the Bronze Award?

Cafés need to have reached a cer­tain set of stan­dards. At least three quar­ters of the food on the menus should be freshly pre­pared on site or in a lo­cal kitchen. All meat served must be from farms which meet, as a min­i­mum, the UK’s wel­fare stan­dards. Due to its en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, the RSPB aims to re­duce the amount of meat con­sumed by of­fer­ing tasty al­ter­na­tives, but all meat on the café Food for Life Served Here menus is UK farm as­sured through the Red Trac­tor scheme. Eggs should be from free range hens and menus must be free of any en­dan­gered fish fea­tured on the Marine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety’s ‘fish to avoid’ list. Food is also free from ad­di­tives like as­par­tame, MSG, ar­ti­fi­cial trans fats and GM in­gre­di­ents. Fi­nally, sea­sonal in­gre­di­ents pro­duced out­doors in the UK are used in all the menus.

What can vis­i­tors ex­pect to see on the menu at RSPB South Stack?

We are com­mit­ted to giv­ing our cus­tomers a great choice of good, lo­cal food and drink. We want ev­ery­one who en­joys a meal at South Stack to feel con­fi­dent in the knowl­edge that it re­flects RSPB val­ues for re­duc­ing food miles wher­ever we can, and sup­port­ing lo­cal sup­pli­ers and pro­duc­ers, who share our be­lief in work­ing for a healthy and sus­tain­able nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. This means we pro­vide y you with a whole­some, well-bal­anced menu of­fer­ing ex­cel­lent value. 75% of our menu is home cooked. We have lo­cal beef burg­ers; home­made cheese and tomato quiche; lo­cal pork and Ap­ple chut­ney panini; Welsh lamb stew; falafel with mint and yo­gurt dress­ing as well as our home­made salmon and prawn fish­cakes.

Your menu cel­e­brates the very best of Anglesey pro­duce; tell us about the award win­ning sup­pli­ers you work with?

With 84% of Wales now farmed we can eas­ily see what a huge in­flu­ence farm­ing has on na­ture and the food we eat. When we see where our food comes from, we re­alise what a big im­pact it can have on our wildlife and that’s why we source our in­gre­di­ents lo­cally. Our bread and cakes are sup­plied by Môn Bak­ery of Gaerwen who make our prod­ucts with­out us­ing palm oil. Our meat is sup­plied by Llech­wedd Meats of Llangefni and Bo­dior farm shop of Rhoscolyn. Our veg is sup­plied by To­tal Pro­duce in Gaerwen. What’s your spe­cial­ity? My spe­cialty is Bara Brith – ev­ery­one loves it.

Your Sun­day and Christ­mas lunches have proved very pop­u­lar – why do you think this is and what’s on the menu this au­tumn and win­ter?

I think our Sun­day and Christ­mas lunches are pop­u­lar be­cause we serve high qual­ity pro­duce and sup­port lo­cal Anglesey busi­nesses. As cater­ers we recog­nise that vis­i­tors place real value on eat­ing lo­cal food. Ev­ery­thing is made fresh on the day and the price is very rea­son­able at £9 for two cour­ses for our Sun­day lunches and £16 for three cour­ses for our Christ­mas lunches. Our Christ­mas lunches are avail­able for 1-17 De­cem­ber.

Tell us about your bird-friendly cof­fee?

Pro­duced by a farm­ers’ co-op­er­a­tive in Nicaragua, the cof­fee plants are grown be­neath the for­est canopy, en­sur­ing that the habi­tat re­mains in­tact for many thou­sands of mi­grant birds, such as golden-winged war­blers and north­ern wa­terthrush. Such farm­ing con­serves the forestry es­sen­tial to th­ese birds.

What’s been the high­light of your ca­reer so far at RSPB South Stack?

Re­ceiv­ing the Bronze Award which cel­e­brates our hard work in pro­duc­ing eth­i­cally sourced food and healthy, or­ganic lo­cal pro­duce. It was also sig­nif­i­cant and ap­pro­pri­ate to re­ceive the award this year as we cel­e­brate our 40 th birth­day. The award is the per­fect way to show how food, farm­ing and na­ture can work in uni­son, and how we can eas­ily adapt our food sys­tem to sup­port a coun­try­side full of wildlife.

Eluned Jones man­ages the pop­u­lar cafe at South Stack

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