Pawel Walkiewicz cooked us breakfast at his new cafe Farm & Table on Wykham Park Farm near Banbury before joining us for a chat.
And what a breakfast it was – a full English, eggs Florentine, coffee to die for, a a slice of homemade banana bread with banana and toffee ripple ice cream that had me skipping with delight.
Farm & Table, near Bloxham, currently serves breakfast/brunch and lunch, and tapas at weekends, and having converted one of the farms barns into a sleek, contemporary dining space, with plenty of outdoor tables, is already doing a roaring trade.
As the name suggests Pawel uses as much local produce as possible, either procured from the farm itself, grown on his allotments next door or sourced as locally as possible.
Which means that each element of the Farm Full English breakfast is as tasty and fresh as you’d hope, from his home smoked bacon to the Paddock Farm sausage, the sourdough toast he bakes fresh every day or the eggs from the local hens.
I’ve spent my life savings on it, but I totally believe in what we are doing here”
Specialising in smoking his own meat and fish, from the salmon in the Egg Royale to the home smoked ham in the Egg Benedict, the 35 year-old year old chef is certainly pulling out all the stops to make his first business venture a success.
“I’ve spent my life savings on it, but I totally believe in what we are doing here,” he tells me. “And if it’s the best breakfast, best coffee, or best burger you’ve tasted, then our customers will come back,” Pawel concludes. “So I’m permanently nervous and excited at the same time.”
his Polish roots are evident in his food; pickling, foraging, smoking, growing his own produce, baking his own bread, his rural heritage is evident in every dish
Pavel also has an impressive CV to stand him in good stead. Heading up the kitchens at The Muddy Duck in Hethe under Nigel Harris and Gemma, he then went to work for their prestigious catering company Absolute Taste, before setting up on his own.
But it’s his Polish roots that are most evident in his food; pickling, foraging, smoking, growing his own produce, baking his own bread, his rural heritage is evident in every dish.
“We made everything from scratch when I was growing up – our own butter, cottage cheese, ricotta. pickles, smoked eels. We had a big cellar under the house where we smoked the food and a huge vegetable patch. We foraged for mushrooms and herbs, dandelions. It was a good way of life,” he reflects.
Arriving aged 19 from Poland for a job as a kitchen porter, he then landed in the kitchens at The Cottage In The Woods in Great Malvern and his life as a chef began.
Jobs at Celtic Manor, four years on a cruise ship, a move to Norway, then To Ronnies in Thornbury, a stint at Soho Farmhouse and then The Muddy Duck where he and Nigel salt aged their own beef, charcuterie and sausages, he then decided it was time to go it alone.
Plans for a relaxed mezzanine level and pop up evenings are in the offing, but in the meantime whether you pop for some of their exceptional Ground Coffee Society coffee, Longhorn beef burgers served in home made brioche buns, or his exquisite home made banana bread, he is confident in the off-the-beaten-track location.
“We wanted to model Farm and Table on somewhere like The Milkshed in Weston-On-The-Green where quality and seasonality count. Plus Wykham Farm has so many customers passing through that news is travelling fast,” he says.
After our breakfast, I can’t say I’m surprised!
Farm & Table, Wykham Lane, Banbury, OX16 9UP. 01295 256500 https://farmandtable.uk