Food Hero

Teals Somerset - Food Hero

West country chef Ben Quinn of Wood-fired Canteen has been working with us from the start to develop the Teals food identity. Under the mantra ‘Good Value, Good Values,’ Ben serves striking food such as burnt butter hummus, pink pickles and dukka, and whole smoked chicken with salsa verde potatoes and broken egg dressed lettuce.

Ben is modest about his Covid contribution, though he shouldn’t be – he and his team fed over 25,000 NHS workers across Cornwall through the first frantic weeks of lockdown. His relationship with the NHS also goes back much further.

He ran a series of cookery workshops with local NHS workers at all levels of the organization, aimed at improving working culture and connection. In groups of up to 15, he’d divide the groups into three, giving them starters, mains and puddings to design, research and cook together and for each other. ‘It quickly became clear that what was really important to create a collaborative working environment was listening to each other, knowing who was responsible for doing what, and getting the small details of the dish right’. Eating together was the reward at the end of the evening – much as it is in life.

His own place, Canteen, is humble in presentation but deeply thoughtful in ambition. His tables are set outside, in the car park of a small industrial estate outside St Agnes, Cornwall, and he cooks the most delicious and memorable of dishes over fire (just two a day, veg and non-veg), giving his customers a meaningful, memorable connection with the season. You can join the snaking queue waiting for his takeaway boxes of fire-cooked fare from Wednesday to Sunday each week, and when permitted, lunch on long tables inside.

For food to be truly nourishing, Ben believes it must be environmentally, physically and spiritually sustaining ‘For me, it’s not about a fancy setting, or a plate loaded with expensive ingredients, it’s about creating a connection with food,’ he says.

We’ve loved working with you Ben, it’s been a joy!

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