Organic Cooking With Barny Haughton

Posted on: 21 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Michael Wale meets Barny Haughton, organic chef and owner of Bristol’s Quartier Vert restaurant and cookery school.

Barny Haughton owns this huge converted warehouse on Bristol docks called Bordeaux Quay, which houses a restaurant, delicatessen, bakery, bar, and cookery school. Barny is also head chef and an organic ingredients chef at that.

We met at this year’s Natural Products and Organic show at London’s Olympia, where for the first time there was an Organic Kitchen, with cookery demonstrations by chefs who only use organic veg, meat and fish.

Haughton is obsessed by the sustainability of the catering industry, and puts into practice his beliefs in how that industry can help save the future of our planet.  All the lavatories in the 16,000 square foot building are flushed by rainwater, collected as it pours off the building. All the wood is sustainable, mainly oak, and in the roof there are solar panels that provide heating.  There is no air conditioning, all the napkins are recycled, all cleaning materials used are low chemical, and needless to say all the lighting is eco friendly.

As for food sourcing Barny says he is setting a precedent.

"We feel it is important for the future of our industry, which is profligate to say the least. We’re just trying to become a model for our industry,” he says. 

As a result everything is recycled, and suppliers have been urged to cut down on any packaging. There is currently an experimental kitchen waste composting going on.

“In 50 years time we are not going to have the same choice as we have now. We won’t be able to buy veg from the other side of the world."

"The future is food education.  We should all be eating one eighth of the quantity of meat that we eat now. It is not good for us, and it is not good for the amount of food that animals have to eat. One animal takes eight times the amount of land that could grow grain. We must stop this temptation to eat meat, and eat what is more good for us, and the land.”

In his demonstration he prepared dishes containing only vegetables and no meat or fish. 

“We have what is called the Barleywood Garden salad," he explains.  "All the ingredients come from this Victorian walled garden. At any time in Bordeaux Quay we can have a seasonal salad - and not necessarily containing lettuce!  This salad is a winter salad, or can be used at anytime until other salad stuff comes into season," he explains.

"We cut up strips of vegetables very thinly, like courgettes, carrot and fennel.  Then flash them in mildly salted boiling water for about three to four seconds, or a bit longer if you like - but ten seconds at the longest, and serve it with home made mayonnaise, which is very easy to make."

"There’s nothing quite so satisfying as the chemistry between eggs and olive oil.  It is called aioli, and it is delicious.  I put egg yolks and garlic in a bowl, and then gradually let in the virgin organic olive oil drop by drop, and keep hand whisking all the time, letting the oil in little by little.  It is this that creates an emulsion."

"By the way here’s a good tip.  So the bowl doesn’t wobble about, put a damp a cloth underneath it. You can also do this with a cutting board, so it doesn’t slide about. When you have finished making your aoli you serve a bit of it with your vegetables.”

The other dish he demonstrated was home made pasta, for which you either need a pasta machine to put the mixture through, or you can just roll it out thinner and thinner with a good rolling pin. For the sauce he used sun dried tomatoes, and chopped a bunch of mint and parsley, saying that mint added a nice flavour to any pasta sauce. He also added a little chlli and put it into a pan with a mixture of a little butter and olive oil.

He made a side salad with herbs that are available at this moment.  For the sauce he said that in season, it was good to add broad beans, but right now you could use organic borlotti beans available in tins. Over the pasta he then scattered crumbly goats cheese, adding, "mint works so well with patsa, as do pine nuts, or walnuts.“

He points out that you could eat what he has been cooking on a low income, and adds that he disagrees with those who think that just because food is local it is not as good as organic.

Barny Haughton's restaurant Bordeaux Quay can be found at V-Shed, Canons Way, Bristol, BS1 5UH.  For reservations telephone 0117 9431200 or email  For further information visit

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