Introducing Our New Chef
You’ve probably heard (if not, where have you been?) that the Eversfield Organic Dartmoor Inn, Merrivale finally opened its doors on Monday 17th May. The day was met with a buzz of excitement as locals, dog walkers, explorers and a few of the Eversfield Organic staff headed over to the inn to taste the long awaited, 100% organic menu.
Whilst working with organic ingredients and premium, grass fed meat makes the chef’s job at the Dartmoor Inn a walk in the park (says us), we know that it’ll take someone special to level up the excitement. With that in mind, we’d like to introduce to you our new head chef, Tom Dodd.
Across the Country and Back Again…
There’s something about growing up in the South West that creates a special kind of bond with food. Whether it’s the very best fish the coast has the offer (usually wrapped in batter alongside some chips), locally made ice cream at the seaside, or an original recipe Devonshire pasty with organic meat. It’s this affinity with South West produce that drew our new Dartmoor Inn head chef to cooking.
Growing up next to the sea on the south coast of Devon, some of Tom Dodd’s earliest childhood memories were surrounded by freshly caught and expertly cooked dishes. His 6 o’clock alarm would see him jumping out of bed and heading to the dock with his grandad to catch the best crabs on their small fishing boat, all before the school bell rang at 9am. Inspiration also came from his mother, who was a very good cook herself, welcoming the whole family to their home for a delightfully cooked Sunday Roast Dinner.
In his early teen years, Tom began to enter cooking competitions and volunteering at the local kitchens around his home village of Noss Mayo and nearby Newton Ferrers. Gaining this experience was vital to becoming Plymouth’s Tanner Brothers’ first apprentice. After three years of working with the brothers, Tom, like many young chefs, took the plunge into the big city.
In London, Tom worked for another three years at the impressive Ritz hotel, starting as a commis chef and working his way up to chef de partie. His journey then took a turn west, as he settled into a demi chef de partie role at the two Michelin star restaurant accompanying Whatley Manner, Bath. Back in Plymouth, the Tanner Brothers welcomed Tom’s return with open arms and ushered him straight into the kitchen of their Barbican restaurant (fittingly called the Barbican Kitchen). Another pit stop in London’s Tom Sellers’ eatery as sous chef was closely followed by a head chef position at Plymouth’s Greedy Goose.
Something about the South West always seemed to draw Tom back, whether it be the best fish and meat the country has to offer or the laid back welcoming approach, Tom confirms “there’s something I like.” However, he also believes that his experience of working in a range of places is important. “Don’t chase the money, chase the dream” is an ethos that has stuck with Tom through his career, and his advice to upcoming chefs is to look for experience first, and the money will follow.
However good Tom’s job hopping may look on paper, it wasn’t always easy. The chef has absorbed some crucial lessons along the way, learning to not overthink things and take your time. “Every chef makes mistakes, but what makes you a good chef is learning from your mistakes” Tom enlightens.
Over the course of his career, Tom has had to work out the real from the fake and identify the opportunities that are actually advantageous. He admits his initial thoughts about this new position at the Dartmoor Inn was something along the lines of another online butchers giving the same “100% organic, top quality meat” spiel. But this thought was soon stopped in its tracks when he met our founder, Mark. Mark’s iconic tour of our organic farm intrigued Tom, hearing his passion and seeing just how much Mark looks after his animals.
The farm to plate philosophy drew Tom to the job, loving the fact that there’s no middle man, meaning truly fantastic meat. The Dartmoor Inn chef job presented Tom with a whole host of benefits, being able to pick the very cow the organic beef comes from and determining how long it’s aged for. He’s looking forward to saying goodbye to the usual “here’s your bit of meat” rubbish.
Maybe it started from his Mum’s Sunday Roast beef, but organic beef is a meat that Tom very much enjoys cooking (and eating). He’s always been a meat eater, and the diversity of beef is like a dream to chefs. From beef tartare – a raw, diced up meat dish with egg yolk and organic vegetables – to Jacob’s ladder short ribs braised for 8-12 hours, Tom is adamant there is nothing you can’t do with this organic meat. However, it’s not his number one kitchen staple… that would be a spoon (“because you’re always using them and you need them!”).
Back to Basics
The use of 100% organic, grass fed beef is just the tip of the iceberg for Tom at the Dartmoor Inn, Merrivale. To him, using premium organic produce and keeping things simple produces a flavour that is second-to-none. When Tom uttered the words “natural is the way to go” we couldn’t help but get excited – we’ve been saying that for years!
The impressive Ox Grill at the inn is Tom’s best friend at his new job, helping in his ambition to take things back to basics. A fantastic piece of equipment, the grill allows Tom to cook our top quality organic food on open fire. Customers are able to see the chef cooking the grass fed steaks from the farm up the road, right in front of their eyes. We join Tom in believing that the organic food speaks for itself.
The closed-loop aspect of the Eversfield Organic Dartmoor Inn is also something that has Tom thinking. The chef believes that the farm to restaurant idea is the most organic way to cook. He’s also excited to help illuminate to customers the difference between organic and non-organic and that organic doesn’t have to mean more expensive. In fact, talking to customers is something that Tom is also looking forward to doing more. He likes the thought of serving customers their organic meat at their table, talking them through it all. His plans also span to the future, thinking of offering cooking demos to those who are keen to learn.
His aspirations to make everyone who comes to the inn feel special is also something that we love about our new chef. As an independent eatery amongst so many large chains, the friendly chat and welcoming nature is a great thing for us to showcase to our customers. Our relaxed atmosphere combined with simple but very effective cooking and premium organic produce is what makes the inn so unique. The next step is finding the best accompanying cooks to see out our plans… “anyone looking for a chef job – call up!”
The Eversfield Organic Dartmoor Inn, Merrivale is now open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with Rooms available from Friday 21st May.