“At two star level I’m looking for consistent quality in everything we do… The consistency of the produce from the Evogro is spot on and the flavour is impeccable.”
2 Michelin Stars
5 AA Rosettes
Michael Wignall at The Latymer
Michael started his professional career in earnest at Broughton Park, under Paul Heathcote, moving with him to his eponymous restaurant in Longbridge, Preston, followed by a spell working with John Burton Race at L’Ortolan. Following this he headed up Old Beams, Waldo’s Restaurant in Cliveden Hotel, Michael’s Nook and the Burlington Restaurant at The Devonshire Arms, earning or retaining a Michelin star at each.
Michael began at The Latymer in 2007 and built it up from a 2-rosette establishment to the fine dining experience it is today. The restaurant has been completely refurbished, and an 8-seater chef’s table added to enjoy the 10 course tasting menu. Michael Wignall at The Latymer was awarded its first Michelin star in 2009, gained its five AA rosettes in 2011 and added the second Michelin star in 2012, putting it firmly in the top 20 restaurants in the country.
Describing his cooking as “complex, carefully crafted and very technical but not intimidating” Michael’s style has familiar classical themes with all flavours staying true to themselves.
His attention to detail is legendary, and he has a reputation of working with suppliers and producers to ensure that the finished product is perfect. When he heard about Evogro and the potential to take charge of his own micro herb production from seed to plate, he jumped at the chance. Six months after installing his Evogro system, we sat down and asked Michael about his experiences. We started by asking how his Evogro crops compare to what he was buying before:
“There’s a massive difference. For a start they’re still growing so you can just snip them to order and then just tweezer them out so you’re not even touching them with your hands so you’ve got the optimum freshness, there’s no damage with packaging or heat.
“There’s no waste at all because we just pick what we want then put it back in the Evogro. We bring them out for specific dishes, so for us it’s a no brainer.”
Some of Michael’s favourite Evogro crops are apple marigold which features on a “compressed pineapple dish with coconut and sweet cicely” and iceplant, which he uses on a “langoustine dish with compressed slow cooked octopus”.
“On average we normally have about 8 different crops in there on a cycle system and because of the monitoring we obviously know when it’s going to be ready… we can grow it to the specific size that we want, and the flavour’s amazing. It’s not just about having a tiny little micro herb that looks pretty on a plate because I hate putting things on a plate that don’t necessarily have to be on there. The flavour packs a punch, it just compliments everything that you put on the dish.”
Although by his own admission not a keen gardener, the Evogro system has been a big hit in the kitchen at The Latymer:
“The workload is really minimal and you normally find the staff are queueing up to be the next gardener. It’s pretty foolproof: the app tells you everything you need to do each day, whether you want to sow more seeds, put more nutrients in the water or things like that. I know first thing in the morning what needs doing before I even go into work because it alerts me on the app. It’s really really simplistic, it’s pretty much chef proof!
“You know that that produce in the end is absolutely amazing and you know that the flavour is absolutely impeccable, and you know that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for the most important thing on the plate and that’s taste”