Helping farmers put real health on our plates

Chef Patrick Woodward – inspiring younger generations with ‘Real Food’

WHAg is delighted to introduce Patrick Woodward, a young chef who knows that “you don’t have to pay through the nose for nourishing, good quality food.”

As a chef in his early 20s, Patrick is part of a younger generation which sets our environment as a high priority. It makes sense, therefore, for them to make food choices in line with sustainability, animal welfare and minimal toxic residue.  Perhaps what isn’t dawning for some is the positive impact that has on our food and our health. Ask any young adult, released into the wild for their first job living away from home, why they choose cheap, processed food over real, ethically raised, locally grown ‘Real Food’. and you can guarantee that they will say they can’t afford ‘Real Food’ and it takes too long to prepare and cook it anyway.  They’d rather buy it ready-made and nuke it in the microwave – and that isn’t a view just for the younger generations, it’s possibly the view of many juggling a home, family and one or more jobs.

With this in mind, we thought that Patrick would be an ideal choice to help us find affordable ways for everybody to make ‘real’ locally sourced food at home.

Patrick began his career working in his home town of Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire. He journeyed further afield spending a few years working around the Cotswolds gaining experience in the kind of restaurants who value quality, locally-sourced food.  Having attained his NVQ in catering at Stratford-upon-Avon College, he started work at El Cafe back in his hometown. El Café is a Spanish restaurant with an ethos matching Patrick’s; one of simple food, cooked well and sourced either locally or with an eye for quality but, as he said, “without having to pay top price for the food you love.” Despite his youth, Patrick was quickly promoted to Head Chef, and has taken to the role with gusto as the restaurant has expanded and taken on additional premises in nearby Kineton. 

“I am thrilled to be working with WHAg, as I believe their mission to be an important one. Good food is only as good as its roots; but conversely, a proper meal, made with care and passion is good for the soul, not just the body. It’s my belief that everyone should know how to cook, and more importantly how to recognise good quality and responsibly sourced produce.”

We talked to Patrick about his local town and he pointed out how lucky he thought he was in Shipston.  “We have access to a greengrocers, delicatessen, fishmonger and butchers who all take the best care when sourcing their produce. Looking after the local community, by way of supporting local farmers, is yet another thing that makes WHAg’s message such a vital one”.

Affordable easy meals during strange times

At the time of writing, we are all in the COVID-19 lockdown. El Café has been temporarily closed for many weeks and so Patrick has taken advantage of the time to explore the project we have set for him.  Something very noticeable for him is that chicken pieces sell out rapidly, leaving Shipston bereft of all things chicken, except for whole ones.  The average food purchaser usually picks up a free-range whole chicken and, on seeing the price, puts it back. If you recall our blog from Pammy Riggs recently, you’ll remember the difference between a cheap chicken and slow-grown chicken. Pammy says in her blog that the nutrition of these slow-grown birds are infinitely higher than those raised in an intensive environment.  So, Patrick took this as his first challenge.

How can you make free range or organic chicken into affordable and easy meals for a family with working parents, or an individual working a long day?

As Patrick points out, the answer is simple. Buy the whole free-range chicken that other people are too worried to ‘deal’ with, joint it and make several meals and a broth or soup.  For our May edition of the WHAg Mag, Patrick shows us how to joint a chicken and then suggests three dishes to make with it.

From a locally sourced chicken you can make a delicious and nutritious meal in no time at all.

Preparing a Whole Chicken

  • Firstly, make sure you have a sharp, flexible knife, ideally a boning knife.
  • Remove the wings by pulling the wing taught and cutting through the joint.
  • Turn the bird around and hold the leg by the end of the drumstick.
  • Locate the empty space between the leg and the body, and slice through the skin.
  • When the joint is exposed, place your thumb on the outside of the joint and pull the leg away from the body, using the leverage to pop the joint out of the socket.
  • Using small slicing motions, cut the leg away from the body. Then, repeat the process on the other side.
  • Align the carcass so the breasts are angled in an upward slope away from you.
  • Level the blade at the top of the slope, with the blade in the centre of the spine.
  • Slice downward; the blade will naturally slide down one side of the spine.
  • Keeping the blade against the spine and ribs, use long slicing motions to remove the breast from the carcass.
  • Repeat on the other sde, steadying the carcass with a flat palm against the breast.
  • All done!
Sara Kernohan

About the author: I’m Sara, a lover and champion of all things ‘wholistic’ – especially food production, raising healthy animals, and cooking for my family.

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