Chef Tim Bouget’s passion for provenance has won him national recognition and countless prestigious awards. He tells Eat Your Words’ organiser Anna Turns why the sustainability revolution is picking up momentum.

With a growing empire of ODE outlets, sustainability is at the heart of Tim and Claire Bouget’s ethos and this company is recognised nationally as being at the forefront of the sustainable food movement. This family business is, to date, the highest-rated restaurant and café in the UK. His menus are rich with ingredients sourced from local producers and ODE is a well-established, trusted brand.

Across the food industry, ‘green’ can be an over-used buzz word. “In terms of real sustainability, what I really look for when eating out or buying food is provenance,” explained Tim. “Local is not good enough! For example, is the fish on the menu on the MSC fish to avoid list!?”

The key sustainability principles by which the ODE business are run include reliable sourcing with both the environment and the community in mind. Three of Tim’s favourite producers are Riverford Farm Dairy, a local hunter called Bob who supplies fallow deer (“he’s a real gent who loves our environment”) and “our very own Teignmouth father and son team Trevor and Jordan who supply sand eels by the scoop in the summer months!”

Tim’s 25-year career began with training at Exeter College and then he went on to work for Michel Roux among other top chefs and worked in boutique hotels across the globe. He has cooked for celebrities including Luciano Pavarotti, U2 and heads of state including Nelson Mandela. 

On returning to Devon in 2007, Tim founded fine-dining restaurant ODE-dining in Shaldon, named after the postcode (TQ14 0DE) and three years ago he opened the more casual, family-orientated Café-ODE in Shaldon, serving seasonal, regional, fresh food with provenance. This year he brought his recipe for success to the South Hams and opened Café-ODE at the beautiful Gara Rock (pictured below).

It’s not just about the food though, craft ale plays an important role in Tim’s life now. Alongside his business partner Andy Cope, he has developed a new microbrewery called Two Beach Brewing Co, producing ODE ale and three others now available to drink at Café-ODE and other CAMRA-listed real ale pubs in the area. Tim hopes to expand the Café-ODE brand into other coastal locations across the region, and there are mentions of a book and a mobile kitchen ODEontheROAD this summer.

As well as running the business, Tim offers a consulting service for start-up businesses and existing companies wishing to become more sustainable. He’s a fount of sustainable knowledge and he’s keen to pass his ethos onto the next generation, teaching regularly at Ashburton Cookery School and River Cottage: “Here at ODE, we have a very young team including two apprentices. We encourage them not only to learn about our regions food and drink but also to love our environment,” he comments.

And for Tim, inspiring young people about this food philosophy starts at home: “Thula our six-year-old daughter loves to make smoothies for breakfast and she loves eating her vegetables and especially fish. We also work with local schools helping to educate and raise the profile of all aspects of our industry and hopefully encourage youngsters to choose a career in hospitality.”

South Devon is now recognised as a premier foodie destination, so food tourism is more important than ever to our economy. Tim was recently invited to sit as a director on the board of Visit South Devon and he is keen to continue to encourage people to choose to visit this region. “Visit South Devon does a great job of promoting our region with tourists and national press,” he says. “In terms of food and drink, we have the best suppliers and producers here so the product makes our job very easy. I want to demonstrate that we can all be sustainable and take care of the environment while running successful businesses in this industry!”

Tim Bouget will be speaking about the importance of food sourcing at
Eat Your Words, 4pm on Friday 23rd October, at The Flavel Church, Dartmouth.

This event is being sponsored by Corinium Care

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