Lavenham Stories - Made in Suffolk
We can think of worse ways to spend a summer's afternoon than foraging with Michelin-star chef and co-founder of restraunt Kitchen Table, James Knappett. We caught up on his love of Suffolk, food and foraging the Great British countryside.
What is your connection to Suffolk?
I was born and bred there, in Newmarket, and my family home was in the area for 30 years. I left when I was 18, but I continuously still go back. I love the county for its incredible landscape - fenlands, rivers, all the historic places as well as the farmland, which is still heavily used for crops today. It’s an absolutely stunning place to live and I feel very connected to it.
When did you first become interested in food?
I first got interested in food in a serious way at the end of school, when I was placed into The Lamb Hotel in Ely, under the Head Chef Steven. He showed me what food could be and what it was all about, so from then I fell completely in love with it and never looked back.
What drew you to Lavenham clothes?
I originally came across Lavenham clothing while looking for ingredients and producers in Suffolk. It caught my eye as I absolutely love this style of clothing and it was a bonus that the clothes were made in Suffolk. The craftmanship is second to none. I love the materials and the personal touches, like the name of the person who last touched it on the garment.
When did you first get into foraging, and what do you like about it?
It first became an interest when I started working at Noma in Copenhagen. I didn’t know much about it then and had a lot to learn, so coming back to my home county Suffolk was a pleasant surprise because I realised how much there was to forage. My passion for it has just gotten bigger and bigger since then. And the best thing is that you never stop learning when it comes to foraging.
What is an easy thing to look out for when foraging in the UK?
I think for the beginners there are a couple of ingredients that are recognisable and can be found quite easily as well as being commonly used in the kitchen – elderflower and wild garlic. Elderflower is quite easy to look for, as you can identify it by the smell and the appearance. It’s an incredibly versatile ingredient, which can be used in things like ice cream, sorbet, oil, vinegars, cordials. The amount of items we make out of elderflower in the restaurant is mind-blowing. And it’s the same with wild garlic, even though it has a really short season, it’s easy to forage and you can use it almost anywhere – vinegars, oils, risotto, puree, the possibilities are endless!
James is co-founder of the restaurant Kitchen Table. You can book a table here.