Interview at the Limetree Kitchen! (from the archives)

From the archives: intern Morgane visited Limetree Kitchen in Lewes, to chat to Alex, about seeking inspiration and using local produce…

Last week, we went to see Alex, chef of the Limetree Kitchen restaurant in Lewes. Alex’s restaurant offers innovative dishes, using the best quality, locally sourced ingredients. From meeting the local producers to creating amazing dishes inspired by modern European cooking, a passion for food is truly at the heart of Alex’s creation.




What made you decide to open a restaurant?

I love cooking, I’ve always cooked all my life, since I was 4. I always loved the idea of having my own restaurant or bar. And then I got a bit bored with working for other people and not having as much creative freedom as I liked. So when I found the right property, I just went for it. I had worked in other restaurants and I was already a chef, you know, but I wanted my own place.

Was it difficult to open the restaurant?

Yes, it was very hard. Especially when you don’t have a lot of money to do it. At first, I only had a small domestic oven, all the tables and things we had were all garden furniture. I just tried to put all the money that I had into the food, and you know eventually you can start doing the other bits and pieces. Some people are a bit obsessed about it, they want the perfect restaurant – but I couldn’t afford to do that and the food is the most important thing to me in a restaurant.

Alex_sitting_bandwAnd are you from Sussex?                                    

No, I’m from London originally.

And what brought you to Lewes?

A girl actually!

How do you choose your menus?

We speak to our suppliers, to know what’s really good, the produce that is best at the time and then we write the menus around that – if we see something that is quite inspiring and different, we just work around that too.  The weather is a factor as well.

And where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere. Sometimes we’ll just see something, like I saw a photograph somewhere, of autumn leaves and I thought that would be really wonderful if we found some sort of way of putting that underneath a dessert, to make it look like an autumn floor. So yeah, we are inspired by what’s seasonal and what’s fantastic at the time. Or sometimes we just get something to try and we just think “that would be incredible, that would work really well with that….”

What about local food? Do you think that’s important?

Absolutely yes. I think if you can support the local farmers and the local growers – particularly, as a small independent place rather than having to go through big supermarkets. As a chef you have a responsibility to support the people who support you.

So that’s why you choose Fin and Farm?

It is, yes! Nick called me quite a few times and the boss I was working for was loyal to another company, so we never had the chance to work with Fin and Farm – but soon as I had my own business I wanted to use Nick so I called him.

You can see more of Limetree on their website here.

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Interview at the Limetree Kitchen! (from the archives)

Apple juice from Ringden farm

Morgane’s interview with Scott at Ringden Farm

During our visit to the Ringden farm – Hurst Green, East Sussex – Scott, who is working on the farm, answered a few questions.




Could you tell me the story of your farm? Why did you become a farmer?

 Well I work in the family business, I am not one of the family. But it’s been a family business for over 50 years now and they were mainly just growing apples and pears but due to a violent hailstorm one year, they lost lots of their crops so they decided to branch out into making apple juice. Since then, they have won several awards, both for speciality fruits but also for individual juices themselves. They’re well known within the industry for their knowledge and we have over 48 varieties of apple juice so it’s one of the largest selections in the UK. We’ve also since branched out into doing small range of blended drinks.

To celebrate our 50th anniversary last year we introduced a range called “Bentley’s” which was named after the grandfather who actually bought the farm over 50 years ago. They’re all familiar apple juice–based drinks. We also produce drinks like lavender lemonade, elderflower and lime, and lemonade and lime.

The other products we have now, which we introduced last year, is an elderflower cordial, which is made using fresh elderflowers.  Also we make a raw cider vinegar, which is unpasteurized. It has great health benefits.

Thank you! So how long have you been working on the farm?

About 5 years.

Where do you grow your fruit? 

The majority of fruit is grown on the farm, but because they’re third generation here they know all the farmers around, we share unusual varieties with some neighbouring farms as well.


Thanks. What methods do you use to make an apple juice?

Basically, when the apples come in, they get hand picked from the trees and put into apple bins. Then they go to the press itself and the apples and any badly bruised apples will get taken out.  All the apples are washed, then they go on to the belt where steel drums will actually squash them. The juice goes into stainless steel trays and then get put into big pads. After they have settled, the next day, after the settlement has fallen to the bottom the juice is bottled and pasteurised.

How many litres do you produce a year?

We produce 350 000 litres per year.

How many apples do you need for a bottle of apple juice?

About 8 apples. It depends on what apples as some are more juicy than others!



Do you grow anything else?

We grow a small amount of quince and some medlars.  We also have some strawberries and gooseberries.

How do you treat your trees?

Minimally – we don’t overspray our trees.  We sell what they call “ugly fruits”. It’s more natural and better for everyone.


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Nathan and Scott, from Ringden farm.


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Apple juice from Ringden farm

Visit to Tibbs farm!

Morgane, our intern, is doing the rounds of visiting our customers and growers to get an idea of how food works in Sussex, from her Parisian point of view.  Here’s her first interview with Robert from Tibbs Farm, at Udimore, who grows our delicious summer fruit.

Morgane’s interview with Robert at Tibb’s Farm (June 2016)

Muir and I went to visit Tibbs farm, in Udimore, East Sussex. At the moment they are growing mainly strawberries and gooseberries but other summer fruit will come soon. They specialise in “pick your own fruits”.

We met Robert Wheeler there, owner of the farm. He showed us round his farm, where he grows all the delicious fruit bushes. I had the opportunity to interview him.


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Could you please tell me the story of your farm? And how did you become a farmer?

So I’m from a farming family going back a long time. We’ve been growing hops for six generations. So I’m a sixth generation hop grower, so that goes back to the 1790s. My immediate farming family also goes back a long time. My father came here in 1956 and this is where I work now. That’s how I became a farmer.

Why did you choose to follow the family path? Did you have the choice to do something else?

I certainly once had a choice. I went to university and could have got a job but farming is a way of life, isn’t it, so that is why I wanted to become a farmer.

What fruit do you produce?

Well we have strawberries, loganberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and redcurrants and further on we grow raspberries as they’re quite popular fruits.  Later on, we also have blackberries.  We grow our fruit – on this sloping bank for drainage and easy access.

Do you have pickers to pick your fruits?

Yes, we have pickers in for that. We try not to waste any, that’s the point. Nobody likes waste, so we do pick quickly.  There are some fruits whose shelf-life is very short, like loganberries, and if you don’t pick them when they’re ready, after a day, they go mushy and juicy, and must be thrown away.

When do you grow?

We are now so used to seeing strawberries in shops all year around. You have them in glass- houses and you have them from South Africa or anywhere you like, they’re all coming but flavour is best when they are properly grown in season. So, you can have strawberries all year around. But the traditional way in this country; they start about June-July, and that is the peak season for strawberries.

And here, we grow them in the ground without cover, so we don’t force them to come early and we don’t try to make them come late.  We choose different varieties so the season can last as long as possible.

How do you treat your fruit?

We try to be as organic as possible. We just have to make sure we don’t have disease problems. There are aphids and other insects, but we live with them!

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Visit to Tibbs farm!