How does a chef become a farmer? Five years ago, Julius Roberts was working as a chef in Noble Rot, the Bloomsbury wine bar and restaurant famed for outstanding wine and seasonal British food. An internship with the equally highly regarded St John had already set him on the same culinary path, and galvanised a belief in the best way forward with food.
"I learned that proper seasonality and quality are the cornerstones of great cooking. If you start with incredible ingredients, your job as a cook is already done for you and making food sing on the plate is made incredibly easy. Yet while I loved the cooking and camaraderie of the restaurant world, a life as a chef was leaving me with little time and energy for much else."
"These bright-eyed, healthy looking producers would arrive first thing in the morning with beautiful deliveries of food for the restaurant, and their energy, passion and vitality is what lured me out into the countryside to follow a new way of life. I moved to Suffolk and jumped straight in by buying four Mangalitsa pigs. I fell completely in love with them... it wasn’t long before I had a flourishing vegetable garden and was overrun with a growing herd of goats, sheep and chickens."
"Sustainability has never been more important and its through how we eat that we can have the most positive impact on the planet"
Julius shared his journey of learning to farm on Instagram, where his focus on sustainability and respect for animals has earned him a big following. He is a realist about farming, and his much loved and cared-for animals are still destined for the plate.
“Food has always played a fundamental role in my life... it’s so entwined with my memory, of people I’ve met and the places I’ve travelled to. It's how my family and friends socialise, it's vital to how I feel and now plays a huge part in my connection with nature. Moving to the countryside and truly understanding where my food comes from has been not just wonderful but devastatingly eye opening. We’re all starting to hear and feel the alarm bells of nature. Sustainability has never been more important and its through how we eat that we can have the most positive impact on the planet. It all starts and ends with the provenance of our food and there are three things I live by. Quality not quantity, don’t waste a morsel and eat as seasonally as you can. My cooking is highly seasonal, as local as can be and often home grown. I love to forage, bake my own breads and preserve all sorts of things to get me through winter. My diet is predominantly vegetarian, but most importantly I strive to make sure that the meat I eat has lived a quality life in harmony with nature and had a positive impact on the environment."
His infectious enthusiasm for sustainable farming, respect for animals and the land is a perfect match with our own nature-first approach to farming and we are delighted to be working with him. Head over to our Instagram account so you don't miss out, and follow Julius on @telltalefood.