So, Harry, how did you get involved with The Small Holding to begin with?
I met Will Devlin through an event with The Chefs’ Forum when I was at college, and went on to work for him at The Windmill in Hollingbourne for a couple of years. He was a Kent chef short when he was starting The Small Holding, which was perfect timing, as I was looking for a job at the time. I came to visit the restaurant and immediately fell in love with it.
How long have you been a Kent chef?
Probably around six years now, about three of which have been with Will – so, half my career to date! I’m technically a ‘sous chef’ at The Small Holding, but we all put our ideas in, work the same amount, and get the same level of respect for what we do.
Working with a farm right outside must be every Kent chef’s dream…
I’m out on the farm every day picking ingredients, collecting eggs, feeding the pigs first thing in the morning, and checking that the ducks and the chickens are all right! We go back and forth between the restaurant and the farm every day, and when we have time, do as much foraging as we can as well.
Does having that easy access to your own produce change the way you cook?
It creates a completely different environment for planning menus. Everything we plant has different growing times, so we make our dishes based around when things will be ready on the farm. We only get what we can around us, which on the one hand is limiting, but on the other means we need to be more creative with what we have. We’ve gone through the effort of growing our own, so we want to show it off to our customers.
What’s it like being part of the Small Holding team?
There are only six of us, so it’s close-knit, which is nice, as I’ve always worked in places with small teams. I love the level of creativity; we’ll all sit down together at least once a week, and will know when dishes are coming towards the end of their time and we need to think of something new. An idea can come from anywhere, and we all grow it from there, together as a team.
Any hopes for how things will develop in 2019?
Next year’s going to be a bit more fine-tuning, and balancing things out in terms of what we’re growing and how much. We’ll try and get a bit more variety on the farm and keep flowing with the seasons. It’s so nice and refreshing to walk down to the farm every morning, and I love building relationships with our local suppliers. Everything about it just feels right – we’ve become part of the local community, and the possibilities are endless.
© WILL AND MATT DEVLIN