Harbour & Jones only uses free range eggs. What drove this decision?
Harbour & Jones has been in business for 10 years and when we started, we
wanted strong values that went through everything we did. These values
are our backbone of every element of the business, our people, our
produce and our way of working. We made a pact that we would use the
very best food we could, whether it be eggs, organic milk etc. and
wherever possible, make food fresh on site. We did this before it was trendy
to do so, as it was something that we wanted to be associated with. We
always said we wanted to ‘be the shepherd, not the sheep’ and lead the
Roughly how many eggs does Harbour & Jones use each year? Are all
your eggs British - where are they sourced?
We buy around 1.1m eggs per year, all free range and all British; all our
suppliers are quality controlled to follow our values. We also give our chefs
a choice of which suppliers they use – for example we use five different
butchers and our chefs decide which one to use based on the quality – it
gives them freedom and enables them to test the market.
Do you have a close relationship with egg farmers?
We tend to buy through suppliers rather than working directly with farms,
but to give you an example, we have a big client in Scotland and there
was an issue about the price of free range eggs, so rather than using
caged eggs, we did a deal with a local farmer, guaranteeing him a regular
order so he could provide free range eggs at a good price on an on-going
Your website talks about using seasonal produce. Nowadays, the super-
markets seem to offer non-seasonal produce all year round. How do you
manage your customers’ expectations, for instance when they might want
strawberries in January?
We love to celebrate food when it’s at its best, i.e. when it’s local and in
season. In Italy, for instance they have an asparagus festival in May –
asparagus is worshipped and celebrated – then not eaten again for an-
other year! As a child I remember the joy of eating strawberries warmed by
the sun, and full of flavour. We don’t tell clients they ‘can’t have’ something
they want, we just offer them what tastes best. When produce is in season
there’s often a glut and it’s also at its best price. In January, strawberries are
expensive and not as nice! For example, a client wanted an exotic fruit
basket at a hospitality event. Instead we suggested they have bowls of
iced British black cherries. Who eats a kiwi fruit at an event anyway?!
There’s always that debate about whether it’s right or wrong to fly produce
in from, say, Peru or Kenya – carbon footprint vs. supporting villages etc. But
then you hear of issues around neighbouring villages being starved of
water… We like to keep it simple and our recipes are linked to the season,
and we try to encourage our clients, where possible, to follow the seasons.
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