Cateys 2022: Newcomer Award: Fallow

05 July 2022 by
Cateys 2022: Newcomer Award: Fallow

Fallow wins the Newcomer Award, sponsored by Commercial Kitchen

The Newcomer Award is open to those who have taken a risk and made a name for themselves in the industry with their first business, and this year's winner more than meets the criteria.

Jack Croft, Will Murray and James Robson invested their life savings to launch Fallow as a residency in London, 10 days before the first national lockdown in March 2020. Unable to qualify for furlough support, the team kept working throughout the pandemic, cooking for the tradespeople still working in the city.

Fallow moved to its first permanent site in London's St James' Market development in November 2021 and had just three weeks to completely renovate the kitchen, hire double the number of staff and design a new menu. At a time many in the industry were shrinking their menus amid a recruitment crisis, Fallow widened its offer, adding a raw bar, grill section and dairy cow cuts to its small and large plates, snacks, breads, sides and Sunday roast menus.

The core ethos of the restaurant is around sustainability, with dishes designed to make use of produce that would normally go to waste. This has led to the creation of many of Fallow's signature dishes, including cod's head with sriracha butter sauce. Normally destined for the bin or stock, the heads are delivered fresh every day, sawed in half due to their size and fried in a hot pan before being cooked in the oven and topped with house-made sriracha.

Byproducts of dishes are used elsewhere on the menu, such as excess ingredients from the sriracha used to make fermented chilli flatbreads and kombu seasoning, while Jerusalem artichoke peelings top the Guinness soft-serve ice-cream.

Much of the produce is sourced from Fallow's own vegetable plots, which are less than 20 miles away. Mushrooms are grown in a dedicated space beneath the restaurant and displayed on racks around the dining room before the stems are used to create a purée for the mushroom parfait dish.

This effort to reduce waste extends across the restaurant. Paper used for the menus is made from algae, and cling film is banned in the kitchen. At the bar, Fallow has opted in to a deposit return scheme with a few suppliers.

And it has adopted a sustainable attitude to its people, too: the kitchen team has a three and a half day working week and staff have personal development mornings to focus on training or working on their physical or mental health. Weekly yoga sessions, team outings and a mental health first-aider have led to a high staff retention rate and positive atmosphere.

The judges praised Fallow for its innovative approach, bold cooking and dedication to its core ethos, proving that the restaurant is more than a worthy winner.

What the judges said

"During one of the most challenging periods for hospitality, Jack, Will and James have successfully launched a truly innovative restaurant with sustainability at the core of everything they do." – Tommo Thomson

"Jack, James and Will have earned their award through a combination of hard work, determination and a creativity that has set them apart from their peers." – William Baxter

The shortlist

  • Fallow, London
  • Highland Coast Hotels
  • Houston & Hawkes
  • Harriet Mansell, Robin Wylde and Lilac, Lyme Regis

The judges

  • Pascal Aussignac, chef-patron, Club Gascon
  • Richard Ball, executive chairman, Calcot Hotels
  • William Baxter, chairman, Hospitality Action
  • Tom Brown, chef-patron, Cornerstone by Tom Brown
  • John Calton, chef, the Staith House
  • Paul Foster, chef patron, Salt
  • Tommo Thomson, founder, Barge East
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