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