Published: 00:01, 08 August 2016
Entrepreneur Matthew Kearsey-Lawson loves to promote other Kentish food producers – but is less forthcoming when it comes to promoting himself. But we persuaded him...
Matthew Kearsey-Lawson is on a mission to bring food with flavour, made with Kentish ingredients, to the people of Kent.
This simple premise led the 41-year-old former Hadlow College student to swap a well-paid corporate job for working long hours for himself in a small kitchen
“I felt I wasn’t enjoying myself,” he said. “So I started up Kent Fine Foods.
“I didn’t really have any great plans about taking over the world. It was more about doing something I wanted to do. I was tired of being tied down to the office and I wanted to go back to basically making good, honest food.”
His artisan business in Hempstead makes high-end preserves and condiments, chutneys, relishes, sauces, jellies and marmalades –
some 11,000 jars a year – using local ingredients such as Kentish cobnuts.
“It’s not factory-based, but in a kitchen,” he said. “It isn’t a hobby, believe me. Sometimes I’m working until midnight. I have got to work very hard. I do very long hours, but I don’t want to spoil the artisan-ness of the business.”
Matthew’s interest in food started young: “My mother is a superb cook. I’ve always enjoyed cooking since I was a young lad. Food has to be such a high standard for me to enjoy it.
“When people try my stuff they are really surprised at the depth of flavour. But I’m not concerned with being the next Levi Roots – I enjoy my job and I’m very happy doing what I do. I don’t want to make it too big.”
He is regularly seen hosting cooking at farmers’ markets and public speaking, including at this summer’s Kent County Show, where he was on stage for all three days.
His work supporting other local producers and businesses led to him being given a special award by Produced in Kent, in recognition of his commitment to Kent food
He said: “The words they said about me, I couldn’t keep a stiff upper lip. It was amazing. I am a great believer in supporting local businesses so the local community becomes stronger. I am so proud of living in Kent and so proud of being in one of the best foodie counties in England.”
Bombay potato-style dish
The idea of Matthew’s food is to give extra flavour to any dish you choose, so you can jazz up whatever leftovers you have in the fridge by adding the ingredients of one of his jars.
A common leftover is potatoes. Using boiled potatoes, cube them and put them in a pan with Kentish rapeseed oil, until browned, to taste.
1. Thinly chop half a red onion and brown it.
2. Add poppy seeds, chick peas, or pre-cooked lentils, or anything you fancy!
3. Then add Kent Fine Foods Sweet Mango Chutney – use the whole pot. Stir it in so it’s sticky.
4. Then add a handful of fresh spinach and serve.
Kent Fine Foods is based at Elm Court Village, Capstone Road, Gillingham. It is also stocked at various farm shops plus Maidstone Museum and Rochester Visitors Centre. Matthew also does a bespoke service, so you can order requests.
For details, call 07944 169866, visit kentfinefoods.com or follow @KentFineFoods on Twitter.
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