Philip Watts Catering in Dittisham
Dear Visitors to Beach End Cottages.
All my food is locally sourced. Some of it is from the fields the Farms and the sea no more than 5 miles in any direction .Everything I buy is fresh and in season.
I am happy to design your menu to suit your family and the occasion.
Happy holidays in Glorious Devon.
Contact: 07866 74654 or email: *protected email*
How I Got Started, Philip Watts, Philips Food (From On The Dart Magazine)
“My earliest memories of cooking are from living in India where I was born and where my mother introduced me to fresh foods and flavours from a young age. We later moved to England in the early 60’s. I was also greatly influenced by my maiden Aunt who took me to France and taught me about French country cuisine.
I went to university in London to study Economics but never gave up the cooking. I would cook a Sunday roast for more than a dozen fellow students for 5 bob each. As I was also working in Covent Garden & Smithfield, sweeping and cleaning, in return I would get vegetables, meat and groceries from the market. I would use the money I made from catering for my friends to fund me through the first year until I decided to quit and follow my dreams after visiting and falling in love with Salcombe.
Some family and friends had bought a hotel in Salcombe and I went to help out with breakfasts and lunches. It was here that I discovered shellfish. Over the next few years, I’d work there during the summer and in winter I would help out with with the scallop dredgers and crabbers. I then started to smoke mackerel becoming one of the pioneers of hot smoked mackerel by the ton!! I love to fish so I spent many a day out on the boats learning techniques from the fishermen. Fishing is my other big passion; my mother used to say I could catch a fish in a puddle so if I’m not cooking you’re more than likely to find me on a fishing boat.
My brother, by this time, had set up the ‘Dartmouth Smoke House’ so I would send the mackerel to be smoked and we would sell it in large quantities to companies such as Youngs and local restaurants.
1976 was a great year. A local seafood bar had closed down and I was given the keys for one year whilst the owners took some time off. In that year I cooked scallops and made lobster sandwiches, which proved to be incredibly popular. After a successful year, I gave the keys back and decided to move to France to learn more about food, cooking, wine etc. I stayed for 2-3 years working in various establishments where it was very much a case of look, listen & learn. Summers were a delight learning about French cuisine, wine and French girls!
Then I moved back to Dartmouth briefly before moving to The Cotswolds where I was appointed head chef in a coaching Inn that had lost its good name. Over a couple of years I managed to restore its reputation by adding fresh country flavours to the tired attitudes of typical pub food. It was there I met my wife, Helen and we decided to move to Devon to work for the Les Hoare Exeter Inn at Modbury. Soon after, the owner retired & we found ourselves back in Dartmouth becoming a Chef at the Gunfield Hotel at Castle Point. We were part of the first team makeover and the restaurant proved to be very popular with locals and visitors.
It wasn’t long before we had children and a live in job at the Gunfield no longer suited so we bought our first house in Dartmouth. I worked as head chef in a restaurant called Cranfords (now Kendricks) and for a time at the Castle Hotel until I decided to join my brother at The Smoke House. We pioneered smoked food ranging from duck, chicken to a range of deli products which resulted in us winning gold medals for most of our range in only a few years at the Taste of the West annual food awards.
This inspired me and, with a small two-year government fund, I worked with local companies such as Riverford, Luscombe, Dartmouth Smoke House, Tideford Farm Foods and Sharpham to become the corner stones of Devon Fayre, the pre-cursor of ‘South Hams Food & Drink’ of which I was chairman and recently honoured by the board with the post of President. Together we made people more aware of the quality of our local produce. It was great for us all. We all helped each other out to promote the best of the Southwest and even the smaller companies were working extra hard & expanding to keep up with demand.
There was a huge turnaround for us all. The average local trader was then taking 6% of the local trade whereas now we are taking about 16%
Our outside catering business became more popular and we were able to build a strong local reputation such that, in 2005, I decided to step down as Managing Director of the Dartmouth Smoke House and sell my shares to the other partners so I could solely concentrate on the catering business.
I now cater for modest weddings, private house parties, functions, corporate events etc. It gives me a sense of place in this rural community, of which I am very proud, and I am grateful for all the friends I have made along the way. I am still incredibly busy and have lots of new projects lined up; for more about these you will have to wait and see!”