From the moment the foundations were laid for the major renovation project to transform derelict farm buildings into the vision of Pensons restaurant, sustainability was at the core of our plans and helped inform the myriad of decisions that had to be made.
We launched at the end of January 2019 and were thrilled and honoured to be awarded a Michelin-Star just 8 months after we opened our doors, acknowledging that we are not only serious about world-class food, but also about the choices we make when running our business.
The idea that the restaurant can serve exceptional quality food but also showcase the very best that the local area has to offer, not only from food and drink producers, but also artisans, artists and charities. Our vision is to place Pensons at the heart of this rural community and ensure that we are outward facing and actively building collaborations and relationships that benefit all parties.
Our ethos is simple – to source as much as we can locally with proven provenance; it is a celebration of the bounty and heritage of this corner of England. Our Head Chef, Chris Simpson, and his team passionately believe that great cooking starts with the quality, seasonality and freshness of the ingredients as these are the key to maximising flavours, the building blocks for a more creative menu.
Where possible, we grow, forage and farm as many of the vegetables, herbs and fruit as we can ourselves. The kitchen garden at Pensons has been transformed from a patch of wasteland into a productive, beautiful space adjacent to the restaurant. Being less than two years old, it is still work in progress and expanding, but already supplies about 50 different ingredients to the kitchen every week. Not only does this allow us to be 100% certain that this produce has not been treated with any ‘nasties’, it eliminates packaging and means food miles are reduced to mere steps.
All green waste from the kitchen is composted and re-used in the garden to create a virtuous circle. and we follow a ‘no dig’ practice in our growing beds to optimise soil structure, health and fertility. If we need to irrigate, we use collected rainwater, used coffee grounds are recycled as a growing medium for mushrooms and we use the ‘shoddy’ offcuts from our weaving mill to help force the rhubarb. We also grow our own rapeseed oil which is cold-pressed to maintain its nutritional benefits.
With ingredients we don’t grow ourselves, our emphasis is to ensure the sustainability and welfare credentials of the produce. So, our fish comes from Cornwall from sustainable stocks and is shipped to us overnight, whilst wherever possible meat is grass-reared from nearby farms. This enables us to focus on ingredients’ sustainability and welfare credentials, reducing packaging waste and food miles, giving full transparency on how and where the ingredients have come from or been reared.
Our ethos is also applied more broadly to how we have furnished the restaurant. For example, all the fabrics including our linen napkins were woven by our cloth mill in the farmyard. Our bespoke lampshades have been created by a basket-maker from willow on the Estate and have allowed her to create an entirely new business. Our plates are hand-made by local potters and have allowed them to expand their production, and our steak knives are forged by our neighbour blacksmith with wooden handles created from the fallen branch of a walnut tree on the Estate.
Although this area is renowned for the quality of its agricultural produce, no one in the wider vicinity was using this to create amazing restaurant food that could build a reputation as a foodie destination and bring people to the area and help the local economy.
It is early days but we hope and aspire to build a sustainable, locally-orientated, responsible business that continues to inspire and benefit our guests, employees and other businesses in the area.