Unique must be one of the most overused and clumsily applied words in our language. Yes its meaning is unequivocal. It means there is absolutely nothing else like it; it's one of a kind. It implies something special, above the crowd, in a class of its own.
Unique can certainly be employed to describe Ludlow Food Centre.
Shropshire is rightly described as a county of great food and drink in Ludlow Food Centre is a jewel in its crown.
It is nationally renowned, multi-award winning and with a visionary business model which is highly ethical and enviously regarded.
In essence farming, food production and retail have all been brought together in one business, at Bromfield, three miles from Ludlow town centre.
Ludlow Food centre is designed not only to sell food and drink but to produce it. In fact, hlaf of the products on sale are made in the kitchens that surround the Food Hall. Shoppers can glance behind the counters to see their cheese and butter being mase, their dread being baked, and their jams and chutneys being produced. Here, too, butchers prepare fresh meat, produced from animals that have lived good lives on nearby farmland.
" We are passionate about local food, with 80 per cent of what we sell coming from Shropshire and its surrounding counties" Says Managing Director Jon Edwards.
Ludlow Food Centre is part of the 8,000 acres of Shropshire countryside that make up the Earl of Plymouth's Oakly Park estate.
The Centre evolved from the vision and ideals of the estate's owners, the Windsor-Clive family, who descended from one of British history's most colourful characters, the 18th centuryShropshire-born adventurer Clive of India.
The broad idea was to provide a retail outlet on the doorstep for the high quality produce emanating from the estate's expansive farming operation. This was local produce writ large, food miles swept away as the Centre stocked the best quality food, grown and reared next door.
All of the Centre's beef, lamb and rare breed Gloucester Old Spot pork comes from the Estate along with a selection of fruit and vegetables from Lady Windsor's own Walled Garden.
Food was, thus, fresh, seasonal and handmade and that has continued to be the case.
Aside from producing its own food, the Centre has developed fruitful relationships with growers and producers in the area. They provide the business with fresh food that only travels a short distance to ensure it is in peak condition on the shelves.
The Food Centre's imaginative layout includes seven production kitchens around the perimeter of the spacious and airy food hall. Windows from the food hall into the kitchens give customers the chance to watch their food being freshly prepared - thus creating a visionary and immediate relationship between producer and consumer.
Here can be seen butchery, bakery, dairy, production kitchen, coffee roasting, jam and pickles manufacture, ice cream and dessert production, all staffed by passionate artisan teams working to create high quality products.
The Ludlow Kitchen cafe and restaurant which opened in 2013, was converted out of a smaller bistro and cafeteria which had become a victim of its own success, forced on its many busy days to turn custom away because of lack of cover space.
Under Edward's direction, it was substantially enlarged and today can seat 160 customers. It serves breakfast, cakes and lunches all day, much of which is prepared daily on site by the team of chefs using many of the Centre's own quality ingredients.
The Centre employs more than 120 people as well as supporting other small artisan businesses. Expansion has been evolutionary as the business has become steadily more profitable.
Ludlow Food Centre is a huge success story, it flies the flag for Shropshire on the national stage, it champions the very best of food and drink with the emphasis on quality and flavour and it has an ethical approach to business.
2009 - 2012
World's Best Marmalade Makers 2011
(Three Fruit Marmalade)
World Marmalade Gold Awards
2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Britain's Best Food Hall 2014
Britain's Best Cheddar 2014 in the Great British Food Magazine Awards for Traditional Oakly Park Cheddar
Farm Shop & Deli Awards; British Best Food Hall 2014
Farm Shop & Deli Awards; Butcher of the Year 2015
Farm Shop & Deli Awards; Midland's Best Food Retailer 2015
Great Taste Awards - Shop of the Year 2015
Food Hall of the Year at the 2016 Farm Shop and Deli Awards
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