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Menu changes every day at the Small Holding in Kilndown as chef Will Devlin grows ingredients on his own farm

By KentOnline reporter

A talented young chef is letting Mother Nature call the shots at his new restaurant where the menu changes every day - because he grows all his own ingredients.

Will Devlin is offering 'a taste of now' at The Small Holding restaurant, where most of the produce for his 10-course tasting menu comes from his own farm.

The 30-year-old chef, who has a decade of experience, said the menu is dependant on what produce is available at the time which means it often changes from one day to the next.

Most of the food served at chef Will Devlin's restaurant is grown on his small holding. Picture: SWNS
Most of the food served at chef Will Devlin's restaurant is grown on his small holding. Picture: SWNS

Almost 100 varieties of fresh goods are harvested at the farm just metres away from Will's restaurant in Kilndown, near Cranbrook, where some are served less than an hour after they were picked from the ground.

Will, from Goudhurst, said: "A guest said to me 'it is like a taste of now' and I think that is absolutely true.

"It is a taste of exactly what is available at the time and the produce is key.

"We do not have set seasonal menus since our ingredients move so quickly - we are completely driven by the farm and that's where our innovation comes from.

"We're always coming up with new things and it's very exciting to make dishes like that, rather than having an idea of one fixed thing in your head."

Chef Will Devlin's small holding where he grows the food for his restaurant. Picture: SWNS
Chef Will Devlin's small holding where he grows the food for his restaurant. Picture: SWNS
Chef Will Devlin's small holding where he grows the food for his restaurant. Picture: SWNS
Chef Will Devlin's small holding where he grows the food for his restaurant. Picture: SWNS
Chef Will Devlin's small holding where he grows the food for his restaurant. Picture: SWNS
Chef Will Devlin's small holding where he grows the food for his restaurant. Picture: SWNS

Will had his sights set on the dream project when he began running events to showcase produce from local farmers and small holdings with his brother Matt Devlin.

The entrepreneurial duo snapped up a 17th-century pub and converted barn, set within an acre of Kentish countryside near Cranbrook, where the 20-seat restaurant looks onto their very own small holding.

Guests are free to wander into the open kitchen to meet the chefs who serve each meal and inform diners on where the ingredients have come from.

Will keeps chicken, ducks and pigs at the site and grows a large variety of fresh fruit and veg with the help of two other chefs and horticulturalist Mark Empson.

Meat is sourced from ethical farmers within a 10-mile radius while ethically caught fish comes from the Kentish and East Sussex coastline no more than 20 miles away.

Lamb and roasted roots from the Small Holding. Picture: SWNS
Lamb and roasted roots from the Small Holding. Picture: SWNS

Will said: "We work with people that love what they do as much as we do and care about their produce.

"For example - the lady we buy our lambs from has 60 lambs in total and that is all she does, is rear and care for them.

"The main thing we don't produce is fish but we work directly with fishermen and get whatever they catch on the day.

"We look for people, rather than big companies and they have to have a story to tell and a purpose behind what they do."

Beetroot and goat's cheese at the Small Holding. Picture: SWNS
Beetroot and goat's cheese at the Small Holding. Picture: SWNS

The chefs meet weekly to discuss the £50 tasting menu which includes three starters, meat and fish mains with 'a lot of veg', two desserts and a cheese platter.

Crops that are ready ahead of schedule are integrated into the menu at the drop of a hat or made into pickles and seasonings to keep their fresh flavour and avoid waste.

Will said: "All our carrots are ready at the moment so we had to incorporate them into the menu but we only have what we have.

"Once they're gone, they're gone and it will change again."

Will's 'Full Acre' tasting menu sets customers back just £50 plus an additional £35 for complimentary craft beer or wine pairings.

The Small Holding in Goudhurst. Picture: SWNS
The Small Holding in Goudhurst. Picture: SWNS
The Small Holding in Goudhurst. Picture: SWNS
The Small Holding in Goudhurst. Picture: SWNS
The Small Holding in Goudhurst. Picture: SWNS
The Small Holding in Goudhurst. Picture: SWNS

Lunchtime diners are offered the 'Half Acre' tasting menu which has half the number of plates, at £30 per person.

British ales and ciders are sourced from Kent while spirits come from as far as Scotland and wine is ordered from all over the world but 'must still have a story to tell.'

Will is looking at how to add gin and other spirits to the list of things made on site and hopes to start making his own butter and cheese in house next year.

He also plans to keep turkey, geese and eventually sheep and cows when he acquires more land.

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