Pig farm passion inspires Chef

Head Chef Paul Hogben visits top pig farm to better understand the sector 

Head Chef Paul Hogben is on a mission, always eager to investigate the ‘story’ behind the food. Whilst this past winter has been very a busy time at the Club, with more people using the Restaurant than ever before, last May Paul and Club Manager Virginia were able to visit the farm of one of our very own members. Here they reflect on that trip.

“I’m always keen to learn more about the farms that produce Britain’s foods, so this coupled with the fact that I’d love to have a few pigs of my own one day, was an opportunity too good to miss,” Paul recalls. 

“We went by train, Tony Pexton met us at the station and we were warmly welcomed into Tony and Liz’s home. It was a bright, dry day, perfect to take a wander and see how the farm operates. 

“It comprises of a pig farm and an arable farm, with cereals from the latter being used to feed the pigs, and other crops sold separately. They also grow peas and are within the perfect distance of a pea processing plant, so yet another arm to the business. 

“The diversity was striking, how each part of the business is interlinked and ultimately drives revenue. When one hears about diversity on farms you don’t really appreciate it until you see it. If one part of the business doesn’t do so well, there are other aspects to help the business survive. Luckily, we saw a healthy business and lots of happy pigs!” says Paul. 

Virginia was amazed at the difference between a pig farm and her friend’s sheep farm. “With the indoor bred pigs there is the ability to make an income all year round, as opposed to lambs, which bring a seasonal income.”

Both were fascinated by the methodical farming system being used. “In many ways it reminds you of a kitchen. We have our creativity and innovation, but in order to ensure the Restaurant and Functions are served on time, we also have a precise approach, to ensure we can deliver. This is one of the many reasons that pre-booking for the Restaurant and the precise organisation of Functions is so important,” says Paul. 

“The technology and the steps taken to ensure the safety of the pigs was also impressive,” he recalls. “We were advised that the UK has a great deal more regulation in pig farming than elsewhere, so rest assured we will always buy British, not only in the Club, but at home too.”

A big thank you to Tony and Liz for providing a wonderful insight into yet another example of great British food.