Category Archives: great shopping

A Grand Day Out-Mash ‘N Secretts

Few large companies manage to stay in touch with their grass roots customer base. The bigger they become the more corporate the management and the less personal the service with little or no interaction with their most valuable asset……..their customers. Newsletters and  Nectar cards just don’t bridge the gap.

What a great surprise then to be invited to “A Grand Day Out” by Mash Purveyors.

This family run business that is now a household name in every professional kitchen in London has just moved to a new multimillion pound state of the art site near Wembley Stadium. Mash HQ

From humble beginnings peddling spuds in Spitalfields market in the early 1800’s

Early Mash Mash is now one of the most respected suppliers to the restaurant trade in the capital working with the most demanding and difficult clientele…professional chefs……but they haven’t lost touch with their customers and continue to show just how important we are.

Monday morning then 9.00am and 60 chefs from all over London arrived at Mash HQ to be greeted with a Champagne breakfast, croissants, delicious cherries, smoked salmon sliders and much more. After breakfast (sorry no photos, haven’t mastered holding a champagne glass, smoked salmon and an iphone yet!!) we were ushered onto  luxury coaches and taken to another family run business with a special history Secretts Farm in Milford near Godalming.

Here we were welcomed by the family, refreshed with cold drinks and then treated to a brilliant tour of the farm. Secretts grow a huge range of products, both avant garde and heritage, for cooks and chefs throughout the south. Our tour guide was Greg Secrett, Greg Secrett4th generation,  enthusiastic, knowledgeable, entertaining and informative, he clearly wasn’t reading a script and lives and breaths the family business passing on his love of the land and produce to his audience. We saw salsify flowers, red mustard frills, land cress, heritage beetroot, rainbow chard, strawberries, redcurrants, composting, potting, pruning and of course some weeding too.

Nothing is held in stock and every item is picked to order, not an easy job as Mash send down a lorry to collect orders for London’s top restaurants everyday at noon. The same traditional family values are fundamental to both businesses which is probably why they work so well together. After the tour, more hospitality as we were treated to a wonderful hog roast, cold beers and  strawberries from the farm (too busy eating to take any photos). The day finishes with a return trip to London and a tour of the new Mash HQ. This huge state of the art facility has packing rooms, cold storage, ripening rooms, foraging tables, drying rooms (wild mushrooms), preparation tables etc. The size of the investment and attention to detail is staggering.

Needless to say all the lucky chefs who attended the day were blown away by the people they met, the good old fashioned hospitality, care and generosity of the invitation. We were all inspired by the passion for the land and farming and by the range of produce available for our kitchens. Every chef went away happy, feeling valued, and motivated……what a shame the banking industry can’t learn from this.

So thank you Mash and thank you Secretts and please put me down for next year!

 

 

Mash….Food of the Gods.

As Head Chef of one of London’s most fashionable fine dining restaurants in the early 1980’s I was a regular visitor to Covent Garden Market buying the best fruit and vegetables for my kitchen. In those days the most exotic veg on the market was Mangetout and the trending salad leaves Lollo Rosso. The market was a busy wholesale environment, loading, unloading, buying, selling, haggling, lots of swearing …………..and the market café ……always full.

Barrow BoyAll that has changed, the old buyers walk busy with boxes of produce and barrow boys is long gone. Supermarkets now account for a huge proportion of the fruit and veg sales in the country and have their own, packing and processing plants, lots of the produce, though pretty to look at, lacks flavour, supermarket fruit never ripens it just goes off!……

Lets do Supermarkets another time…..

Sounds a bit bleak ……but all is not lost and the lucky chefs cooking today have a fantastic choice of produce to use on their menus. New… Exotic …Heritage… Wild… .Foraged….Forced…Flown in…..that they can Vac Pac ….Dehydrate …..Gel …..Evaporate ….Slow Cook …..Compress and Ferment.

A new breed of supplier has had to evolve to cater for this.

MashStanding head and shoulders above the rest is Mash Purveyors a family business established by Joseph Mash in the 1820’s.

This is still a family business and the team at Mash have a tireless energy and passion for their trade. They are working closely with growers from all over the world to develop, import and promote this produce. They are a thoroughly modern company but with traditional core values, strong on customer service, emphatic about food provenance and so passionate about quality. From this, and not overnight, they have created their own unique niche market. Others will follow suit and copy for sure but Mash are now champions of every Michelin star kitchen in the capital and thoroughly deserved.

David SwainEarlier this week I was fortunate to spend a totally inspirational morning with one of the company directors David Swain tasting produce, learning about out how they source, stock and deliver the fantastic array of ingredients they now have on offer. David is so passionate and committed and knowledgeable it was a pleasure to just walk alongside him as we toured the storeroom.

Any chef short of ideas or inspiration should just spend 20 minutes here to be completely blown away. In the old days veg was an accompaniment to meat and usually shared the plate with a potato. Chefs today have out of this world produce to choose from. I saw Calcot onions from Tarragona, Butterfly Sorrel flowers, delicious Apple Blossom, Sea Fennel, 3 Cornered Wild Garlic, (60Kg foraged each week)

Fiddleback Ferns, Forced Sea Kale, Friseline, Oca Tubers, Skirret, Finger Limes from Australia, Sea Beet, the most delicious Muscatel Grapes, was like eating wine, new season Gariguette Strawberries, perfectly graded Leeks, Goldrush Apples, Olroyds Rhubarb (2 grades) Israeli Etrog and superb Black Truffles

The customer base at Mash includes all the top London restaurants, these chefs are at the peak of their careers, they are incredibly demanding, standards are exceptionally high and they do not tolerate second rate produce or sloppy service. Mash are delivering a unique product in this very challenging environment and raising the bar every day.

I was Gobsmacked…………….