My name is Lee Bye and I am the head chef of Tuddenham Mill near Newmarket in West Suffolk. I have been in my post now for two years. It is a fantastic place to cook and everything about being in this area of Suffolk inspires my thinking into what to cook and bring together on a plate.
I am very fortunate I have some of the country’s best producers on my door step for vegetables, meat and poultry and over the coming seasons I am going to really showcase the quality of all these products and champion the people behind the qualities.
I am very passionate about produce especially vegetables, even though I didn’t eat enough of them growing up I look back thinking I missed out. I am lucky enough to have grandparents who are steeped in tradition with growing their own vegetables and bringing them to the table for dinner. Marrows, leeks, sprouting broccoli, broad beans, raspberries, lettuces and radish are all there to picked, pulled and cut on their well- groomed allotment spaces. As a young boy I never appreciated the labour Grandad spent and only now he has retired do I really see the graft he puts in. The bit I really get excited about though is the taste and honesty what comes with growing your own vegetables. People that do will agree you cannot touch it for flavour.
This has always led my thinking with regard to my cooking and offerings at the mill. Source what is best around you for the menus even if it makes up a small part of the menu but really embrace the real depths and produce of our beautiful country side. A famous chef Mr Pierre White once said ‘Mother Nature is the true artist’ and for me and the team at the mill we always try and work to this philosophy. I always tell the team to look at the vegetables on the road side stalls on their drive into work and take inspiration to what is in season. This keeps the chefs on their toes and they never become complacent with opening packets and not understanding the journey the produce has been on. Every ingredient is respected whether it’s the peas, the mint or the lamb. All have a massive job to do on the plate and we as chefs have a duty to create balance and flavour in everything we prepare and cook.
In this column I want to celebrate honesty in food and where it’s from and get people having a go whether it is growing your own or even putting together foods that are snacks, lunches or even a luxury dinner. Lots of opportunities over the year will be available for you to champion your produce and pictures here in the column and along the way I’m hoping to get out and find my way deeper into Suffolk and what it has to offer and meet the people behind who make Suffolk a great food larder.