As you maybe / probably know there’s a Guest Chef (GC) in my life and he’s based in The Deep South. You might also know that he’s been very influential in many things to do with baRnby’s. The one that immediately springs to mind is his input into my Bistro Nights. I would never in a million years have had the confidence to do them without his help; both practical and in the planning stages. Sadly he’s not really been very hands on over the past year (for obvious Covid reasons) so you may (like I do at times) wonder….

What does a Guest Chef actually do in The Deep South ????

Well he often can be found walking The South West Costal Path and The Dart Valley Trail and it was whilst walking the latter that he discovered the cheeses made by Sharpham Dairy.

I remember it well …. I was up NoRth working my little socks off and he was, how can I put it without upsetting him too much…. having a leisurely stroll from Totnes to Sharpham. Imagine the scene if you can. Me up to my neck in this that and the other whilst my phone is constantly pinging with pictures of the most spectacular scenery and a barrage of texts about how amazing the walk is and what a wonderful day it was. It got even better when he finally reached his destination and spent a glorious hour or more drinking wine and eating cheese in the paradise that is The Sharpham Estate. I should add that this was way back, when the baRnby’s of today was just a twinkle in my eye, so I wasn’t even working my socks off doing what has subsequently become my passion. Of course I made all the right noises but deep down I admit to being rather jealous and how can I put it …. a little bit miffed off let’s say!

Fast forward a short time to when baRnby’s is what “I do” on a full time basis and we started planning my Bistro Nights menus. It was his idea to serve a cheese course as the French would (before the dessert) …. and mine to always have an English cheese and match it as closely as I could to the theme of the evening. I have to admit that the link at times has become rather tenuous as I have my favourites…. my outstanding one for sure is Sharpham’s Washbourne ….so much so that I had nibbled on sooooooo much of it before my recent Mezze night that I had to serve their Brie instead (not really Middle Eastern is it ….I said the link was tenuous).

So “what would Richard do” ? Is a phrase The Guest Chef and I often use and how we came about it is a story in itself. My cousin and her husband had come to visit and were staying in a nearby hotel. They had come over for an evening meal …. surprise, surprise we had had plenty of wine and so they needed to get a taxi to get back but for love nor money no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t get one. After 40 minutes of trying Richard rang another hotel (not the one they were staying in ) and somehow managed to persuade the night staff to come and pick him up and take him to where he was staying in exchange for an amount of cash. Rather bizarre and not something we would have ever thought of doing. Anyway much to our amazement Richard’s idea worked …. and that’s how our much loved phrase came about.

So what’s Richard got to do with this story?  Well it was a sunny day and the plan was for me and The Guest Chef to make a round trip from his home using various modes of public transport and combine them with a wonderful walk along the river Dart stopping off for food and drink along the way.  On reflection I think we spent rather too long lingering over cheese and wine at Sharpham …. because after continuing our walk along the river when we got to the next port of call we realised that a certain someone (not me) had completely cocked up the ferry and bus times and we were kind of stuck in the wonderful village of Dittisham. We looked at each other with a little bit of panic in our eyes….  and simultaneously said “ what would Richard do”. He might have initially messed up but ultimately The Guest Chef saved the day…. he offered to pay a guy with a speedboat £20 to take us to the next stop on our journey from where we could catch a bus to take us home.

I have a brilliant relationship with the team at Sharpham Cheese. Plenty of behind the scenes chit chat and

I can’t recommend Sharpham Cheese enough ….. nor the countryside and walks on their door step…. and whenever I am in The Deep South there’s nothing I like more than a drive down to their idyllic location to collect my cheese order. I use their cheeses in my Bistro Meals and in my Posh Picnics and Platters.  They aren’t the only cheese makers I use but for now you can maybe /probably guess who my favourites are. Not just for their fabulous produce but also because they are such a lovely lovely bunch of people…. And because they sometimes get The Guest Chef confused with Dan the Duck Man. He wasn’t happy let me tell you (The Guest Chef that is) but that’s an altogether different story …. I think I have said enough for one day. 😉

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