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Cottage industry

River Cottage's Bristol Canteen serves up sustainabilty on the plate

30-09-2013 | Mix staff passion with a blended philosophy of quality local produce and bring to the boil, then simmer for a while in a restored building and season with down to earth good food.

Sustainability on a plate

River Cottage's philosophy and culture is a delicious mix of innovative ideas on food, coupled with a proven recipe for success. For starters it's not just the locally and sustainably sourced ingredients. Reclaimed timber has been transformed into the flooring and tables, with all the latest energy saving appliances throughout the building and kitchen that demonstrate sustainability isn't a mere side dish in this restaurant.

River Cottage Canteen Bristol chef

The beauty of the building is the first thing that struck me. I used to cycle past it daily on my way to work without even really noticing it. Now it's transformed into a beautiful and inviting space. There is a family feel, with simple and clean design and an open kitchen with everything on show.

General manager Sarah Kieck tells me how each Canteen adapts to its surroundings, using its buying power to stimulate the local economy. She says, "it's a completely new experience as the manager being so involved in the buying process. But really knowing and trusting our suppliers gives us complete confidence in our supply chain. The recent food scandals have really driven home that there are some things that you should just not compromise on."

River Cottage Canteen Bristol kilner jars

“Really knowing and trusting our suppliers gives us complete confidence in our supply chain.”

Sarah Kieck, River Cottage Canteen Bristol

They aim to source all food within a 50-mile radius wherever possible, using local suppliers like the nearby Community Farm, Chew Moo's ice cream co and the Bristol Beer Factory. The menu changes on a daily basis to incorporate ingredients that are in season and available which really test the knowledge and skill of the chefs and waiting staff.

Nose to tail eating

Their commitment to seasonal ingredients is coupled with a determination not to waste. Sarah tells me how the chefs use the whole animal when cooking, discarding as little as possible. The desire to be resourceful with the products they have sets them apart from many other restaurants. It's unlikely that there will be anything left on your plate but on the off chance that there is then it's all separated and composted.

All these elements combine to make River Cottage's new canteen sustainability on a plate, with all the ingredients for a refreshing experience when it comes to eating out.


Project CV: River Cottage

Triodos Bank has a long running relationship with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the River Cottage team. As well as providing loan finance for their base at River Cottage HQ on the Devon and Dorset border, our Corporate Finance team raised £1.5m in 2011 to support the creation of the new canteens and delis across the South West, including in Axminster, Plymouth and Bristol. Last year they raised a further £645,000 through a private bond issue to provide capital to develop the professional cookery school at River Cottage HQ.

Words: Luke Bogue Photography: Frances Taylor

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