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Most days last summer, the VSC’s Executive Chef, Paul Mattocks, could be found up on the roof. Breath-taking though the view is, he wasn’t there to gaze out over the capital. Paul had come up to the brand-new rooftop kitchen garden to see which crops were ready for picking.

This summer, the kitchen team trialled the garden to reduce their food miles and increase their fresh and sustainable offering to their guests. It was an outstanding success, so much so that in 2020, the growing space will be doubled and the entire roof planted up. Paul and his team grew kale, courgettes, salad crops, peas and pea shoots, nasturtiums, fennel, spring onions, radishes and a whole bouquet of herbs. Many establishments boast about their green credentials, but there can’t be many restaurants in Central London who have their own roof garden.

For a small area, the yield was remarkably high. 30 lettuces were planted out in a raised bed and were cut and replanted 6 times in the season. While that wasn’t quite enough to provide all the salad for the Club, Paul has high hopes for next year. When the basil was plentiful in the roof garden, the kitchen was making their own pesto to serve in both restaurants. The majority of events desserts this year have been garnished with edible flowers and mint from the garden.

In the past few years, the kitchen team has switched to using local suppliers to reduce their food miles and increase their sustainability. Paul is on a WhatsApp group with his vegetable supplier who regularly sends him a message from market at 2am in the morning to ensure he gets only the freshest produce for the Club.

Paul has an excellent and proactive relationship with his suppliers.  Meat orders, including rare breed pork, come from a tried and trusted commercial butcher, local small farms and The Ginger Pig in Marylebone.

This year the events menus have been adapted to include produce from the roof garden and from local suppliers. Both in the Grill and the Club Dining Room, the menus are seasonal. All the meat used in the kitchen is British as Paul and his kitchen team believe that it’s their responsibility to provide sustainable food with as few food miles as possible.

Of late, Paul and his team have noticed the move towards plant-based dietary requirements while planning the menus for many of their events. As part of the Events Team’s sustainable journey, the kitchen is always ready with alternatives to meat, fish and dairy.

Looking ahead to 2020, Paul is driving towards more seasonality, more innovation and increased use of the roof kitchen garden.

The kitchen has moved over to compostable and biodegradable packaging wherever possible. Street food served at the Club is always presented in compostable containers.

All the hard work paid off this year when Paul and his team brought home two prestigious awards to the VSC Events Team. They were a winner in the Excellence in Sustainability 2019 in the Hospitality Assured Show Awards as well as a winner for Best Independent Venue 2019 in the Corporate and Hospitality Show Awards.

With the emphasis on low food miles, sustainability and seasonality in the kitchen at the VSC and exciting new plans for the future, it looks like Paul will be up on the roof a lot more next year, both literally and metaphorically.