LEADING food and drink organisation, Taste of the West, has employed a Gousto-style approach to promote South West food and drink products to a wider UK market.

The largest independent regional food group enrolled the culinary skills of South West Chef of the Year, Dez Turland, to host a live cooking show online using a Gousto-style box packed to the brim with food and drink from local producers.

The event was organised in partnership with NatWest Bank, which has helped support many of the South West’s food and drink producers through the pandemic.

Its purpose was to spotlight the difficulties the food and drink sector has gone through because of lockdown and what NatWest and Taste of the West have done to help these businesses, while at the same time spotlighting the amazing food available in the region.

Each of the seven participants – including myself - received a Gousto-style box of ingredients all sourced from suppliers in the South West from which to cook a meal.

John Sheaves, CEO Taste of the West, said: “All of the produce that you are cooking with today comes from independent producers in the South West.

"The region is rich with talented food and drink manufacturers – from micro businesses to bigger producers.

"It’s a wealth of talent however that has been really hit during lockdown. Some businesses have struggled to survive and it’s important as we move forward out of lockdown we help these businesses to thrive.

"Our role is to help showcase these amazing goods to a wider market by spotlighting the industry to the wider UK.”

Taste of the West was set up in 1991 to promote and support the fantastic local food and drink from the South West, including Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. Its members include food and drink producers, distributors, restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels, farm shops and specialist retailers.

They share the same passion about the provenance and quality of the products they make, serve or sell and to ensure high standards are maintained.

The organisation’s ethos today remains the same as it’s always been - quality, integrity and provenance - but many of its members have been forced to change tack to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Craig Cabot, of NatWest South West Board, said: “It’s amazing to see the diverse manufacturer and producers we have here in the South West. The quality of food and drink here is truly world class. It’s a sector that contributes so much to the region.

"From the outset of the pandemic our relationship managers have been working closely with these businesses to provide the funding and support they need to survive.

"Now it’s about helping these businesses take advantage of the opportunities that will lie ahead such as the staycation market.

"As a bank we have a huge role to play in helping them thrive and flourish. The produce in the region is exemplary as we can see through what Dez has been cooking.”

Mr Turland, a former South West Chef of the Year who worked for Brend Hotels Group, is actively involved in the promotion of food in the South West through culinary demonstrations across the region.

He said: “I firmly believe that here in the South West we have a natural larder to be proud of and of which the rest of the UK is rightly enviable."

“It has become my mission over the years to help wherever I can in promoting the great diversity of produce here on our doorstep.”