Baz Butcher at The White Hart in Wytham

It began as a joke, an exasperated reposte, a provocation, anything really to incite a response either from Michael Gove himself, or the British government.

At the very least, Baz Butcher, publican at The White Hart in Wytham, one of Oxfordshire’s top gastropubs, hoped to start a debate amongst the catering community, about what to do in the case of a ‘no deal’ Brexit and demand some answers.

But even he had no idea how fast his Tweet would catch on, because when he woke up this morning it was at 1,450,348 views. That’s a lot of people.

As for the knock on effect, last night three tables arrived at The White Hart to ask for the turnip menu.

Yet behind the mirth, there is a serious message. “Yes it was meant to be-tongue-in-cheek, but we just want to know what is going to happen. We have been told to ‘be prepared’ but how can we when we don’t know what will happen and what food we will be able to get hold of? There is literally no information around,” he says.

“Will there be food shortages? We don’t know. We are a small business, but like millions of others we order our meat, fish and vegetables at 11pm-12 midnight and they are delivered the next morning.

“What if they can’t because there is no produce. How are we supposed to plan menus. The cauliflower drought this summer was bad enough.”

“And yes, we source 90% of our stuff locally, which we are very proud of, so this wasn’t a real list, but this was about raising awareness.

“I’m not saying it will happen either, but we need to be kept informed. We are a little business who cooks our food fresh every day. How can we stockpile fresh ingredients? Of course we can adapt, and create a menu from scratch, but only within reason.

Baz with head chef Martin Sherriff

Baz even joked on Twitter that on Nov 1 he would be serving a turnip menu, but such has been the response that he and chef Martin Sherriff have put it in the dairy.

“The whole turnip thing really took off, so we are going to have a ‘turnip 6 ways’ menu on 1/11,” Baz laughs in delight.

What of the argument that Brexit will be good for British food? “I am a big supporter of British food, but have you tried British tomatoes in October. It has its limits.

So how did it take off? “Well Tony Robinson retweeted it and then Jeremy Clarkson. Jeremy Clarkson has got as many Brexiteer followers as Remainers, so then the debate really took off.”

What Baz know wants to know is how many people have to see the Tweet before he gets an official response. “At what point do the government’s social media team think ‘hmm, this is something we need to address?’ The parliamentary petition needs 100,000 people before it will be considered.”

As for the knock on effects, Baz said last night three tables arrived at The White Hart to ask for the turnip menu.

Perhaps things will be OK after all.


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