Over 25 years, brothers Michael, James and Paul have created the multi-award winning foodie emporium Darts Farm from the family farm shack. Michael talks magical experiences, bad service and pork scratchings
What’s the one kitchen item you couldn’t live without?
A corkscrew. I often get given them by vineyard owners and the like, which is useful as you can never usually find one when you need one.
An early food memory?
As a kid I used to love going out for a Sunday drive with Mum and Dad. We’d call in at a pub on Dartmoor for a roast or a cream tea, or we’d head to Sidmouth or Dartmouth. What’s lovely is that I find myself doing the same thing with my own four kids.
Where do you like to eat out?
The Turf near Exminster because it’s so unique. If you’re lucky enough to go over and back in a little boat it’s magical, especially if it’s getting dark on the way home. It serves really good local food and drink and is a family-run business. For a very special occasion it’s great to go to Lympstone Manor for dinner and a walk around the vineyard.
Like to have supper with?
There are so many people but it would have to be Rick Stein, Eddie Jones and my twin, Michael McIntyre.
Wish you’d known 10 years ago?
That opportunities don’t wait. When the time is right, do it, because the world moves on.
Which food trend would you rather forget?
I keep reading that maybe eating red meat should be made illegal and have to wonder if the world has gone completely crazy. There are so many issues that contribute to climate change: air transport, refrigeration, plastic on everything, takeaway chains. Of course I’m pro-environment but I personally struggle with that idea about red meat. Our grass-fed ruby red devons are grazed on our own marshes. They’re sustainable and every step of their journey – from the breeding onwards – is taken with care.
Globalisation has led to this shocking disposable culture where everything is devalued and chucked out, but that’s so at odds with how beef like ours is reared.
Pet hates when eating out?
Bad service. I hate that feeling when you’re standing in line at the bar and the bartender ignores you and serves someone else, or when you’re having supper and looking around for the sauces and salt. I’m drawn to places where there’s a culture of taking pride in giving exceptional service.
What’s hot at the moment?
Health is coming through in food in a big way, especially foods that are beneficial for the gut such as cider vinegar, kombucha, kefir and kimchi. We’ve also seen items like coconut oil and raw chocolate take off – and it’s continually evolving.
Personally, I believe in balance. On a Friday night I like to go to The Bridge Inn in Topsham for a pint and a packet of pork scratchings. Knowing that it’s a naughty-but-nice once a week treat is part of the pleasure.