Delicious Norfolk: These people are responsible for the county's best food
Food and farming photographer Miles Willis and our editor Georgina Wilson-Powell set out on a roadtrip with Norfolk chef, Charlie Hodson to capture some of Norfolk’s most authentic farmers and producers ahead of the first ever Norfolk Day.
Wed 25 Jul 2018
Norfolk is one of the UK’s largest counties, with a huge agricultural economy, dozens of artisan food producers, miles of wild coastline, salt marshes nature reserves and it is slowly creeping into people’s consciousnesses as a superior staycation - whether you’re after great grub, pretty market towns or the artsy vibes of Norwich.
Friday 27 July saw the first ever Norfolk Day, a new annual event that celebrates the customs, food, drinks and amazing places that makes Norfolk different.
From free Norwich tours to activities at Holkham Hall, community events, special Norfolk themed menus and even limited edition Norfolk beers were on offer.
Chef Charlie Hodson has been a passionate supporter of Norfolk's fine produce for years, connecting farmers, producers and chefs across the county, running his own Norfolk ketchup company and promoting endless foodie events, pop up suppers, cook offs and more.
His enthusiasm is infectious as he leaps in and out of his car, introducing us to an endless array of smiling faces, happy to share their indvidual stories that keep the fresh ingredients flowing round this special spot in the east of England.
Farmers, butchers and producers...we meet some of Norfolk’s fine foodie folk
Woodbastwick's Rare Breed
In a quiet corner of Norfolk, off a tiny windy lane, between Norwich and the coast sits the Woodbastwick Estate. It has been in the Cator family for generations.
As has a rare breed of cattle, the Woodbastwick British Whites, who have been on this land since, and can be traced all the way back to, the mid 1800s.
These enormous beasts with an ancient lineage stand proud in their pens at the end of spring, a few days before they're turned out to pasture on the estate's parkland.
Image The Woodbastwick herd has been grazing on the same fields for over 150 years
Carefully managed, this beautiful herd is tended all year round by farm manager, Angela Hamilton.
Only a few restaurants in Norfolk are lucky enough to secure beef from this herd and Hamilton manages the complex web of generations through a clever naming system which means there are themes of cattle - from perfumes through to Roald Dahl characters.
Third generation pig farmer, Tim Allen rears Hampshire White pigs outside in north Norfolk. The pigs spend their lives outside and are free to roam.
As a RSPCA and Red Tractor approved farmer that’s passionate about sustainable animal welfare, Allen supplies local restaurants across Norfolk plus traditional butchers and farm shops like Walsingham.
Image Tim Allen's family have been raising porkers for three generations under huge Norfolk skies
Archers Butchers and Deli is a Norwich institution. It’s been selling local meat and locally produced food since 1929, and James Archer is the third generation butcher who is responsible for the award-winning shop - and its recent expansion.
Oh and it's just been named the best butchers in the UK (by The Meat Awards).
Sausages, pies, bacon - you name it, these guys have won awards for it and the dedicated team of butchers are passionate about helping customers cook better.
Their pork comes from Tim Allen; their beef from Almey & Sons - who have been rearing cows near North Walsham for generations and their lamb is from HG Blake’s, which has the highest welfare standard for its farms in Norfolk.
Who doesn't love a properly made pie - and these are the best in Norfolk. Walsingham Farm Shop sell theirs to pubs and restaurants all over Norfolk, but you can pick up your own - possibly still warm - from their farm shops at Heacham and Walsingham.
These award-winner hunger beaters are sourced 100% locally, even the beer is local - and everything is made by hand. And yes they taste as good as they look. Don't believe us? Their beef and ale pie took third place in this year's National Pie competition (yes that's a big deal).
Nurtured in Norfolk
Six years ago Allan and Sue Miller started growing micro-cress commercially to supplement a restaurant they worked in.
They now have a staff of 32 and supply Michelin star chefs, local restaurants and wholesalers with mirco-herbs and salad leaves, baby and micro vegetables and edible flowers - all grown naturally in soil.
The team use four acres of greenhouses to keep up with demands and are just about to add another acre.
They also hosting local produce focused pop up suppers and collaborate with some of the most exciting chefs in the UK - as they live, sleep and eat all things micro and magnificent.
Over in Aylsham, Coxfords Butchers which has been going for nearly 50 years, has recently been taken over by Johnny Payne and Jason Gibbons.
They’ve both been working at this traditional butchers since they left school - nearly 30 years ago in Johnny's case.
Both these passionate men in their smart red aprons, have butchering running through their veins.
Payne’s dad worked right here at Coxfords for 37 years, while Gibbon’s grandparents ran another butchers.
It’s a rare tale to make you smile, of essential market town skills being handed down, despite the last 50 years of supermarkets’ global expansion.
Both men want to encourage shoppers to come in and ask questions so they can improve people's knowledge of different cuts and help support Norfolk’s excellent farmers.
Want to visit Norfolk?
Check out Norfolk's wild coastline, salt marshes and quaint towns yourself.
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