22 March 1996

Great Western food in train

TRAVELLERS to the West Country can get a taste of the good food available in the region on the way – if they travel by Great Western trains.

Great Western, which was subject to a management/staff buy-out in February, approached regional food group Taste of the West to find top quality produce to serve on their Paddington to Penzance route and renowned chef Joyce Molyneux of the Carved Angel, Dartmouth, to devise menus.

"We approached Taste of the West because their members are the speciality producers we were seeking," says David Crome of Great Western. "We took samples of produce on board a train, and on the journey from Plymouth to Penzance we sampled 62 different foods including 14 icecreams and 15 cheeses. The standard of everything was very good."

Once a shortlist of foods was decided on Joyce Molyneux was approached. "She would not agree to putting her name to anything until she was sure of the quality of the produce, so we took samples to her restaurant for her to try," explained Mr Crome.

"The quality was very reassuring – lovely steak and lamb, ham and sausages and very good cheeses," enthused Miss Molyneux."

"It has been very exciting to participate in this venture, which I feel will be good for food, good for tourism and good for the West Country."

The Taste of the West menus will be offered Monday to Friday on six trains daily until July, and continued if they prove to be commercially successful. Certainly if the standard produced by Great Western chef Jim Simmons on the inaugural run is anything to go by these meals will make travelling by train a stylish occasion. From the confines of a tiny galley, this ex-naval chef and his crew presented mouthwatering soup, mussels, steak, wild boar sausages, the lightest of syllabubs, well kept cheeses and much, much more as the Golden Hind Pullman hurtled towards Penzance at up to 100mph.

Food minister Angela Browning, who launched the initiative but missed the journey, as she was required to vote in the House of Commons, said: "I am very conscious of our British tendency to under-rate our regional foods and the distinctiveness and variety they bring to our culture. But where better than the south-west of England to find the widest range of high quality food?"

Tessa Gates

Food minister Angela Browning centre attended the launch as did Joyce Molyneux (right) who selected the foods Jim Simmons prepared on board.

Great Westerns great Taste of the West on the Paddington to Penzance route includes wild

boar sausages (left) and succulent steaks (above) mouth-watering soups, well kept cheeses and the lightest of syllabubs served in comfort and style.