Hidden Treasures

Dominic Teague is the award-winning Executive Chef of One Aldwych.

Dominic Teague is the award-winning Executive Chef of One Aldwych. Here, he talks about how professionally foraged ingredients add a twist to every menu.

It arrives every week. A box of carefully packaged wild and wonderful ingredients, found for us by professional forager, Yun Hider. It’s always exciting to see what he has gathered on his forays into the woods or along the coast from his base in the heart of Pembrokeshire, Wales.

The two of us clicked from day one – and that was 20 years ago. I liked his ethos and passion for foraging interesting edible ingredients.
Even then, he had a reputation for working with top chefs.

I have been out with him many times, exploring and discovering amazing little treasures from the hedgerows, estuaries and coasts. He’s an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to plants, whether he’s talking about herbs, roots, flowers or fruits.

Of course it’s important that you are accompanied by a professional who is able to identify everything before picking, eating or even touching plants, berries or anything growing wild. You certainly shouldn’t go off on your own to try your hand at foraging. It is only under supervision that you can be sure of distinguishing between
the edible, inedible and potentially toxic.

Once a year, I try to take some of my team out on one of Yun’s excursions, either to south Wales or north Devon. Not only do we find his knowledge fascinating, it’s a great way for us to get out of the kitchen and into the fresh air of the British countryside from where most of our general produce also hails.

This fits with our mission – to always consider sustainability and design dishes that reflect seasonality, using locally sourced ingredients where possible. In today’s world, when you can go to a supermarket and buy fruits from anywhere in the world at any time of the year, what you can lose is that connection with the cycles of nature. I want our kitchen to feel completely in sync with nature’s rhythms.

There are so many examples of dishes that pivot on foraged ingredients. Monkfish tail baked in seaweed is very popular – we garnish this with bladderwrack seaweed. Wood sorrel, with its citrussy flavour, is another great addition, particularly when we use it in a vegetable salad. Then there’s sea purslane, which is a crisp and succulent sea vegetable that goes well with braised pork cheek and heritage carrots.

Sometimes, the ingredients are central to the dish – wild garlic is a good example, offering flavour and texture. Other times, we use them as garnish, helping dishes to look intriguing and pretty. I think adding foraged touches brings a certain zing of difference to a dish and a little piece of poetry to the menus. They underscore that everything we serve is thoughtfully put together and delivered with real heart.


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