When we were asked to head up a food and drink delegation to represent Surrey at the Houses of Parliament we knew this would be a great and unmissable opportunity to fly the flag for local food. Hundreds of hours of work later, we set off to Westminster, riding a wave of tremendous goodwill and generosity from our members and friends - not just from the food and drink community, but from our fab designer Simon Knibbs and amazing printer Nigel Holman of Pink Sheep, both of whom donated their services to help us turn around a professional booklet in no time at all. It felt a bit like "The Apprentice" as we battled seemingly impossible deadlines, but we did it. The booklet not only looked great but it really helped us focus on the serious message we wanted to deliver to the Government). You can download it here.
It gave everyone such a boost that The Prime Minister took the time to attend and to personally receive the Local Food Surrey hamper which was presented by Tim McEntire from Food Float and Chris Robinson of Chalk Hills Bakery.
Here, we bring you photos from the day and feedback from the wonderful producers and chefs who travelled with us to Westminster, and from Christine Howard, Strategic Director of Visit Surrey/Chairman of Surrey Hills Society and Local Food Britain founder, Tracy Carroll.
Tracy Carroll, founder of Local Food Britain (on the left of the photo)
The event meant so much to our Surrey members who accompanied me on the day and to everyone who donated produce for the tastings. For quite a while we didn’t think The Prime Minister was going to make it after all so when he finally turned up the excitement level was tremendous. Although he was clearly very busy he made the effort to taste the food and drink and asked lots of questions. He seemed very pleased with the Local Food Surrey hamper which was presented by Chris Robinson of Chalk Hills Bakery and Tim McEntire of Food Float. We also told him about the fudge which had been specially created for the occasion by Liz Usher of Mummy Makes Fudge – Ed Vanillaband and Salt Cameron. He seemed to think that was very amusing and went off with a bag of it.
Lucinda Perks, The Butchers Hall, Forest Green, Dorking
There’s been a great buzz in the room all day. It’s been really fun to be around other Surrey producers and to be able to showcase our produce to a wide audience. I’m a bit worried that I was a little cheeky because when the Prime Minister asked me the secret of our pastry I said I couldn’t possibly tell him, but he was very complimentary about the pies and it was very exciting to meet him.
Chris Robinson, Chalk Hills Bakery, Reigate
I thought it was a fantastic day and a great opportunity to be able to present Surrey and its produce to the MPs and ministers at the Houses of Parliament. For David Cameron to come along was just the icing on the cake. He was such a friendly, nice man and he really thought it was all great. More power to him. The reaction about the bread was fantastic. We have a lovely fig and walnut loaf and people were sampling that and the traditional sourdough and they all loved it. I was just over-run with interest in the mince pies. People were coming back to me for more and they were saying, “Great mince pies.” They were going off with whole boxes of them. I got to the point where I was asking, “How many people are there in your office? Here, take six.”
Tim McEntire, Food Float, Dorking
It was a fantastic opportunity to spend some time with the other producers and do some networking. I’m so proud of our great British heritage so the opportunity to come to the Houses of Parliament was awesome. I thought the MPs were great. I spoke to Mr Beresford, our MP for Mole Valley, and he says he will visit us on the Food Float stall in Dorking High Street.
David Gillott, Four Gables Fine Dining, Ashtead who prepared the food
It was brilliant, I’ve had a brilliant day, everything from getting up first thing in the morning for our vehicle to be screened and x-rayed, to meeting the Prime Minister himself and having a lovely chat, so it was brilliant, loved it. We chatted about our apprenticeship scheme that we have at Four Gables and also about all our local food producers in Surrey who have done us proud today. I couldn’t be more pleased of showing off how good our food produce is locally.
Matthieu Elzinga from Litmus wines, Dorking
Mr Cameron tried the White Pinot from Litmus Wines. He said he liked it very much and would like to have it at the House of Commons.
Christine Howard, Strategic Director of Visit Surrey and Chairman of Surrey Hills Society
Today’s been fantastic. I’m almost speechless. I can’t believe we’ve had David Cameron down to support us here today. I’m so delighted because everyone has worked so hard to get this day together - I know some of them have worked until midnight every night to get this ready. I’m just so pleased he’s been able to join us and a big thank you to Anne Milton [Conservative MP for Guildford] for organising for us all to be here today. I think it’s fantastic for Surrey. I’ve had so many people, so many of the MPs saying “Why can’t my county do this?” and “I didn’t realise Surrey had so much beautiful countryside” so that was part of our mission and I think we achieved it.
Nick Wenman, Albury Organic Vineyard, Albury
It was really fantastic showcase of Surrey products and it was great to see the various MPs here really enjoying what they were eating and drinking and seeing about Surrey, so a great day. Mr Cameron said my wine was really lovely, so I’m very pleased with that. He tried our Silent Pool Rosé, which is made from Pinot Noir and was served on the Royal Barge during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It’s a dry, crisp rosé with summer fruit flavours. I think it’s really important that MPs in London see Surrey as a great tourist destination.
Mike Wagstaff, Greyfriars Vineyard, Hogs Back (on the left with Kevin Lorimer, Chairman of Visit Surrey)
Today was a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about English wine in general, and our wines particularly. It was fantastic that David Cameron came and can see what we can produce in Surrey. He did have a taste of our Blanc to Blancs and he liked it and that has made my day. He said: “This is very nice.”
Tags: Parliamentary Visit