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If you’ve been tuning in to BBC 1 over the last few weeks you’ll most likely have watched The Great British Menu, a BBC television series in which top British chefs compete for the chance to cook one course of a four-course banquet. Shropshire’s very own Stuart Collins of Docket No33 in Whitchurch has made through to the finales of the Great British Menu after winning the regional heats. Ahead of his final week on the show, we caught up with Stuart to discuss all things Shropshire, including why he chose to put down his roots in the county town of Whitchurch.

 

What made you set up shop in Shropshire?

When we were initially deciding where to set up our restaurant we looked around a number of potential locations but always had Shropshire in our minds, with the unique market towns full of independent businesses and such an array of locally sourced produce to choose from, Whitchurch ticked all the boxes, so in October 2017 we opened our doors in Whitchurch.

 

When you’re not in the kitchen, Where do you spend your time in Shropshire?

Myself and partner Francis are big fans of Shropshire’s great outdoors and so can often be found walking for miles in the Shropshire Hills, to date we have never taken the same route and have been told there is as many walking miles in Shropshire as there is from Whitchurch to New York so we still have a few to cover yet!

 

Is there an ingredient that is produced in Shropshire and is the best you have found?

Great question and really hard to choose since we are spoilt for choice! I would have to choose Bennett & Dunn rapeseed oil which is cold-pressed, triple filtered and then hand-bottled by Rupert at his farm in Bridgnorth. I would also say the local honey is a close second as it allows us to put the flavour and profile of the region into our dishes.

 

How important is it to you to work with local suppliers and produce?

This is something that I could talk about for hours because this is such a vital part of Docket No33. Locally sourced food is incredibly important for so many reasons, eating local is not only tastier, but it’s also healthier! Ripe fruits and vegetables contain the most nutrients, but the minute they’re picked, their plant cells begin to shrink and their nutrients diminish. Using locally sourced produce also reduces our carbon footprint & emission levels whilst also supporting local businesses. All in all, it provides the best opportunity to taste the product at its prime and allow the freshest of flavours.

 

What is the one ingredient you cannot live without?

Butter for the simple reason, everything tastes better with butter!

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