The image of the traditional chef is one of the white jacket and the ‘toque blanche’ chef’s hat, but these days chefs are very likely to be growing their own ingredients, and to be found in their kitchen garden digging up the organic veg, sporting a handwoven, handmade tweed cap, with a provenance as sound and sure as any locally sourced sustainable game in their kitchen larder.
Meet the new wave of tweed-cap wearing chefs!
Glynn Purnell of Michelin starred Purnell’s Restaurant in Birmingham www.purnellsrestaurant.com, didn’t need to be asked twice about his love of caps, especially the tweed look: “To be the part is to look the part,” he told The Chefs’ Forum. “Sussex Tweed’s beautiful handwoven tweed caps are the perfect finishing touch to that quintessentially British look.”
John Williams MBE, executive chef at The Ritz in London (https://www.theritzlondon.com/), is a classic chef to the core, and also a fan of the provenance of these hand-woven, handmade tweed caps.
“There’s something very British about tweed and it’s a style I love. It’s just so comfortable and I love a good cap!” said Williams.
Scott Goss, head chef of Michelin recommended test kitchen The Twenty Six in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and executive chef at nearby The Beacon (https://www.illbemother.co.uk/thebeacon) and The Swan in Chapel Down, was so taken with his Sussex Tweed cap, that he had to have one of their kids’ caps for his baby daughter in a green Prince of Wales check. “Outstanding craftsmanship, refined attention to detail. It’s the perfect outdoor garment or intercity style,” Goss said.
Will Devlin, owner and head chef of The Small Holding in Kent (https://thesmallholding.restaurant/) and The Curlew in East Sussex (https://www.thecurlew.restaurant/) opined: “Sussex Tweed share the same values as us: sustainability, accountability and the use of the finest local products to make something truly wonderful. I pick up my Sussex Tweed cap, and you can tell it’s been made with attention to detail – it’s the best cap I’ve ever had, it just feels right”.
Jonathan Kelly, owner of Sussex Tweed is convinced both cooking and weaving are related: “The parallels between the kitchen and the weaving shed are very real. Each involve linear processes, and both are highly dependent on nature and the seasons. With craft, skill, and sheer physical effort required to bring a menu to fruition, or a handwoven tweed cap to market, cooking and weaving are truly labours of love. And in common with Will, Scott, Glynn and John we have a simple ethos: focus on the customer, pay attention to the details and aim to get the best product out there”.
Local is now the way forward, whether it’s choosing the freshest, finest foodstuffs, or sustainably produced handwoven tweed with a low-carbon footprint. So, get clapping for these food heroes, and get capping for proper ‘Made in England’ quality tweed caps, but make sure they’re from Sussex Tweed!