Our new food ambassador champions good family food
Claire Thomson, our new food ambassador is also a chef, author of The Five O’Clock Apron and mother of three. She is passionate about turning the notion of children’s food on its head and ensuring our recipes appeal to all ages.
'For me, the lynchpin of a successful family day out is the food. Those welcome breaks - whether it’s a picnic you’ve packed yourself, lunch in a café or just a cup of tea and a cake.'
Claire is delighted to be our new food ambassador after one of our cafes helped her stay sane as a new mother. She says: 'I remember sitting at Godolphin House in Cornwall when my first baby was not yet six months, feeling earth-shatteringly tired and drinking a cup of tea. The tea tasted like no tea I’d ever tasted before, the cake (carrot, I think) was astonishing. That moment was a lifeline in a very long day.'
Sustainable sourcing of food
She is also enthusiastic about our approach to sourcing food: 'I love the commitment to using fresh, seasonal produce where possible. What makes it more unusual still is that each National Trust place has its own local recipes.
'Many National Trust cafés come with their own unique produce, all readily available. This is a great thing for diners, but, with all good restaurants – and certainly the ones I’ve worked in – continuity is also crucial.'
Claire says that the truism ‘you’re only as good as your last’ really matters when it comes to ensuring high standards in such a wide range of eateries.
'Take the good old National Trust scone, for example,' she says. 'It’s made using a recipe shared throughout all 200 cafés. It is crucial that all visitors can rely on a scone being as good to eat whether you’re in the Peak District or in Suffolk – irrespective of whether you prefer the jam or the cream on the top.'
Developing new recipes
With some 1.25 million scones sold at our places each year, that’s a lot of scones to get right. First in line for ensuring quality and high standards is Clive Goudercourt, our lead Development Chef. He develops our new, seasonal recipes, ensuring they are made to the same exacting standard.
Claire is developing new recipes with Clive, creating packed lunches and speedy, imaginative food for the whole family to enjoy.
'Cooking for people, particularly children, is what I love to do. Cooking for the National Trust is a dream, working on providing tantalising menu options for kids made from ingredients with blast, oomph and taste. I believe that the food on offer to children should be just as exciting and enjoyable as that intended for adults. Generation small, soon to be big, need healthy, wholesome food. After all, it’s extremely hungry work climbing trees and hiding from your big brother.'
This article first appeared in the National Trust Magazine summer 2016 issue.