Sustainability and Speed: Why Farmer, Butcher, Chef is the cherry on top of Festival of Speed

28th June 2024

Meet Mike Watts, Goodwood’s Group Executive Chef, as he shares his passion for Goodwood’s exceptional flagship restaurant, the ethos that’s at the heart of every single dish, and what he’s most looking forward to about Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard.  

By Rebecca Denne

  • Festival of Speed

Energy balls making class with Head Chef Mike Watts during the Storcx Gut Health week..Client: Goodwood. .Picture date: Wednesday May 17, 2023..Photograph by Christopher Ison © NOTE REGARDING IMAGE LICENCING FOR THIS PHOTOGRAPH: This image is supplied to the client under the terms previously agreed. No sales are permitted unless expressly agreed in writing by the photographer. Sharing with third parties is prohibited without the written permission of the photographer.

A space that’s flooded with natural light and marries traditional decor of white wooden beams with a contemporary take on the English country barn. And did we mention a lively buzz that’s truly palpable? Welcome to Farmer, Butcher, Chef, Goodwood’s elegant flagship restaurant and the place to be for this year’s Festival of Speed. 

As the cutlery is polished, Champagne chilled and glasses readied, there’s one man whose work is just beginning. As Goodwood’s Group Executive Chef, Mike Watts is at the culinary helm on the Goodwood estate, as he passionately leads his team of top-class chefs, apprentices and everyone in between. 

“My role at Goodwood is overseeing all of our catering,” says Mike. “There’s the Kennels, Hotel, The House, the Motor Circuit and Aerodrome café and I am also involved in all of our headline events like Festival of Speed.” says Mike. 

Mike’s career has seen him heading up everything from high-pressure fine-dining kitchens to catering teams for football stadiums. But it’s here at Goodwood where he’s remained for almost a decade. His team includes five world-class head chefs, each responsible for various areas on the Estate. “In terms of Farmer, Butcher, Chef, we’ve got a new team, including a new head chef, Darren Velvick, who has phenomenal experience working with Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsay, which is really exciting,” he adds. 

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The Farmer, Butcher, Chef Ethos

Part of Mike’s role is to ensure that everything that goes on the plates at Farmer, Butcher, Chef over Festival of Speed aligns with the restaurant and the Estate’s values. “It’s important that what we serve ties back to what the restaurant was designed to be; a celebration of sustainability. It’s about using interesting cuts of meat, local produce and working with the season, plus the pork, lamb and beef that come from Goodwood home farm to create dishes that sing,” explains Mike. 

As the name of the restaurant suggests, Mike and the team work closely with Goodwood’s farmer and butcher and producers to ensure the ingredients they're working with link into the venue’s farm to fork vision. “Everything we serve is 100% traceable. Each week the farmer, butcher and myself sit down to talk about what's coming into season, what cuts of meat they’ve got, and so on. We take those lesser-used – and maybe lesser-known – cuts and prepare them in a way that people say: ‘Wow, that was amazing. Why don't I eat more of that?’,” Mike shares. 

As well as working with fantastically knowledgeable and equally passionate suppliers, Farmer, Butcher, Chef uses a lot of produce that’s grown and reared here on the Estate, much of which will appear on the menu at Festival of Speed. 

“From our point of view, it's about making sure that 100 percent of the animals that we rear are being used and there’s no waste, and that comes down to the skill of the chefs here. They can take cheeks, liver, triceps and serve them in a way that's accessible and doesn't feel like it scares people when they see it on the menu through processes such as brining, maturing, using salt or spice rubs and then slow cooking them,” Mike says. 

He shares that the chefs get their inspiration from what’s on their doorstep, literally. “You can walk out of any of our venues and you're walking into fields. You can see the animals being reared; you can walk up into the woods and find wild garlic, nettles and elderflowers. Seasonality is such an obvious thing – the work has been done for you. The things that go together, grow at the same. Lamb is still in season, and because of the way we rear lamb on the Estate (we don't do any indoor lambing anymore), what we used to consider young lamb, is coming into fruition now and we know we can marry that up with beautiful fresh peas that are in season until July and August. Guests will travel further than their food to enjoy what’s on offer,” Mike explains.



Fine dining at Festival of Speed

As the chefs work hand-in-hand with the season, guests can expect to see a celebration of Sussex’s finest produce when they dine at Farmer, Butcher, Chef at Festival of Speed, Mike tells us: “It’s hospitality like nowhere else. It's going to fit right in with the identity and the philosophy of the restaurant, set right at the heart of the Estate. Not only are you a part of this amazing event but you're also dining in the way that we think food should be enjoyed,” he adds.  

“As well as breakfast, lunch will be a three-course choice menu including secondary cuts, such as pork collar, but prepared and cooked absolutely beautifully. The fish we serve will be fresh from our suppliers in Brighton and Portsmouth – as close to us as humanly possible. The vegetables will be seasonal and exceptionally fresh – they'll have travelled less distance than the guests! It's about pulling the right ingredients together and showing it off,” Mike explains. 

With the roar of the hillclimb startline just round the corner, booking a hospitality package at Farmer Butcher, Chef is as close to the action as you can be with a fine-dining experience to boot. “It will be a hospitality experience like no other at Goodwood. You'll be able to see the motor sport and all the excitement and spectacle that it brings, but with a degree of honesty about how important sustainability is and what the Estate’s identity is,” Mike explains. 

“It will be a hospitality experience like no other at Goodwood. You'll be able to see the motor sport and all the excitement and spectacle that it brings, but with a degree of honesty about how important sustainability is and what the Estate’s identity is."

Mike Watts

As well as being wowed by the food on the day, guests can relax in the beautiful surroundings of the restaurant, including the sun-drenched terrace – the perfect spot for a morning coffee, afternoon tea or a glass of something chilled. 

Just chatting to Mike it’s clear that Goodwood’s ethos and values are close to his heart, and something that his team is passionate about, too. “What’s special is that when you come to the restaurant, you’ll be being served by a Goodwood team. They’re people who work here every single day and they love it – they want to talk about it and share how special our produce is. There’s nowhere else quite like it,” he adds.


Time for service

As Mike and his team rev up for Festival of Speed, he looks ahead to the atmosphere and energy that will fill Farmer, Butcher, Chef across the weekend: “Festival of Speed speaks for itself – you’ll have an amazing day. We like to think of Farmer, Butcher, Chef as being the cherry on top. We want guests to come away having tried the most amazing organic produce created here in Sussex and having had an exceptional experience,” he says. 

Spaces are limited at Goodwood’s beautifully decorated flagship restaurant, Farmer, Butcher, Chef across the four days of Festival of Speed this summer, so book your package at this year’s Festival of Speed here or contact our friendly hospitality team on 01243 755054.

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