How do you like your pancakes? Piled high with lashings of syrup, carefully folded and bursting with ham and...
Jane Baxter of Wild Artichokes is a renowned South Devon chef and food writer, that you may recognise from her regular stints on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, alongside fellow cook and friend Matt Tebbutt, or her foodie column for The Guardian.
Jane found her love of cooking whilst studying at Leeds University, where she then decided to turn her passion of food in to a successful career.
Throughout her career, Jane has met many important people in the catering industry. However, two major influences in her profession were George Perry-Smith, who she worked for at Riverside in Helford, and Joyce Molyneux, one of the first women to receive a Michelin Star, who she worked under at what was called ‘The Carved Angel’ in Dartmouth.
From The Carved Angel in Dartmouth to The River Café in London, Jane began exploring Italian cuisine, which kicked off her love of all things Italiano. After cooking up a storm in many London establishments, Jane jetted off to the South Pacific for seven years. When Jane returned to the UK, she worked at Riverford in Buckfastleigh. Riverford is an organic farm, which later opened a popular restaurant for those that love seasonal feasting – think simple, colourful dishes cooked and seasoned beautifully. The people responsible for the perfectly effortless, indulgent meals and friendly service at the ‘Field Kitchen’ were Jane Baxter and event planner, Samantha Miller.
Following their 5 years working together at Riverford, Jane and Sam now run the popular Kingsbridge based food and events company, Wild Artichokes. Jane cooks, using local produce wherever possible, and Sam organises events. This bustling eatery is a haven for those that love grazing boards, overflowing salads and honest food in a friendly, sociable dining environment. However, if you prefer a more private affair for a special occasion, the team also offer private catering experiences too, so you can enjoy feasting on delicious local produce in the comfort of your holiday home, or local event venue. As well as all of this, Wild Artichokes hold regular pop up events around the region, offering ample opportunity to indulge in their delicious banquets!
More recently, Wild Artichokes have started their local takeaway business for collection, Takeaways @WA, where you can pre-order feasts, treats and salads from the Wild Artichokes Head Quarters (WAHQ) in Kingsbridge, South Devon.
Visit the Wild Artichokes website to view their foodie options, or to order a takeaway.
Jane took her cooking expertise to paper with her collection of Leon cookbooks, the international fast food chain that reinvented the meaning of convenient food to many, and proved that there is such a thing as naturally fast cuisine that’s both healthy and tasty. Inspired by Mediterranean cooking, Jane is the co-author of Fast & Free and Fast Vegetarian, encouraging budding chefs with little time to get cooking something utterly delicious.
When we created our South Devon Cookbook, a downloadable resource with recipes and tips from some of the region’s leading chefs, we were lucky enough to have Jane Baxter share some delicious recipes, including her Baxter’s Brunch and Paella Deli Salad. One dish that we couldn’t resist to try was her squash, corn and bean stew – comforting deliciousness in a bowl.
This can be let down with a little vegetable stock and turned into a soup. It’s great with tortilla chips sprinkled on top.
We were lucky enough to interview Jane Baxter while she cooked a recipe from our South Devon Cookbook. Set in the backdrop of one of our luxury holiday cottages at Hillfield Village, we discussed all things cooking with Jane.
What is your favourite South Devon produce?
First, definitely crab. And not just the white meat, I really love the brown meat to work with as well. We also have some great veg suppliers to work with in the region. There is a great ‘pick your own’ in Yealmpton that grows lovely things throughout the summer. Thirdly, we get some lamb from the village farm at East Portlemouth that is quite a rare breed, and is accessible via the food assembly which helps small producers.
Do you have any advice for people that are new to cooking?
Cooking is all about confidence. People see TV chefs and it can look quite daunting and technical, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are baking I think you need to follow a recipe as its more of a science, but if you are cooking a meal like I am now then just season things properly, keep tasting and seasoning, and don’t be afraid. Everyone messes up!
How did the idea of your Wild Artichokes restaurant come about?
Wild Artichokes started because I really wanted a kitchen to cook from. I was trying to do things from home and it wasn’t working, so I thought about the idea of getting a kitchen with a venue where people could come and eat. We are still doing outside catering, but I love also having a multi-functional space where people can come and have a meal.
What do you love most about your job?
What I really like about my job is the variety of things that we do in Kingsbridge and throughout the South Hams. I can cook an Italian dinner for 32 people and put lots of creativity into it, or we can do a wedding in a field for 200 people. We also do a bit of teaching and book writing, which makes it all a bit more interesting and challenging, which it has to be!
When visiting South Devon, make sure to visit Wild Artichokes for a fabulous feasting meal, and don’t be shy to cook a delicious meal for your loved ones in your holiday home.
Not only is South Devon renowned for superb local produce and seafood, the region boasts unique dining experiences like no other – both off and on the water. Our food and drink blog is an emporium of helpful, visual guides to the region’s gourmet favourites. Find out where to buy the best cream tea in Devon, the ultimate blackberry picking spots, and even the best local pancake toppings – we really do cover a range of topics for both experienced and beginner chefs, and foodies.
Holiday in the region of the traditional cream tea (cream first, then jam), notorious Salcombe crab and Devon pasties, with our selection of South Devon holiday homes. Stay in Kingsbridge and stroll to the Wild Artichokes restaurant, visit Beesands or Brixham to watch the local fishermen retrieve the catch of the day. Or, why not retreat to the River Dart where you can dine on a boat, with views of Dartmouth and Kingswear, down towards Tuckenhay and Totnes.