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Cooking up a treat in the UK – land of food innovation




Time was when Europeans thought British cuisine consisted of not much more than soggy fish and chips, swilled down by a warm pint of bitter (beer). That was, in fact, not so long ago, and some on European mainland still rather snobbishly (and wrongly) give a Gallic shrug at the mere mention of British food.

Ok, so 50 years ago, the food in Britain was, on the whole, pretty terrible. Everything French seemed to be better, be it bread, cheese, wine, restaurants or cafés.

Today, it could be argued that the positions have actually been reversed with the UK now the land of foodie innovation with world cuisine represented everywhere across the country.

Things are so much better, in fact, that you can now even enjoy “food tours” of Britain.

One such initiative is the newly launched “East Kent Culinary Tours” organised by Dev Biswal, an award-winning local chef and restaurant owner.

The gala 9-day culinary tour is primarily aimed at bringing overseas visitors (from Belgium and all other parts of Europe) to sample the best food and drink produce that East Kent has to offer (the tours are also open to domestic visitors from other parts of the UK).


Biswal, a former Asian Chef of the Year, is renowned for his modern fine dining venue, “The Cook’s Tale,” in Canterbury, Kent. It serves unique dishes that fuse traditional Indian cooking, with deft touches of international cuisine, designed to showcase seasonal ingredients sourced within 30 minutes of the venue.

For his newly launched tours, overseas guests will be collected at Gatwick or Heathrow airport just outside London and transported to the high-end Abode Hotel in the centre of Canterbury.

The trip will encompass a seafood picnic in Whitstable; punting along the River Stour, numerous restaurant meals; vineyard and micro-brewery tastings; a tour of the historic Deal, Dover, Walmer and Dover castles (with an optional balloon ride); Canterbury Cathedral; medieval feast; artisanal farm shopping trip for gifts and ingredients for a hands-on cookery class.

The itinerary also includes an overnight trip to London with guided tour, a pre-theatre dinner and a West End show. 

On the last night, the trip concludes with Dev presenting a spectacular farewell tasting menu in his award-winning restaurant.

The in-bound trips are, he says, a natural progression of the popular culinary holidays organised in recent years by The Cook’s Tale to Croatia, Morocco and India plus his local food-based ‘Kent Experiences’ catering for visitors to the area and cookery school.

Biswal says that, if they don’t already know it, that it’s time non-Brits discovered just how good (and healthy) the cuisine in Britain, specifically his bit of it, is these days.

“We’re blessed,” he says, “with some of the finest food and drink produce to be found anywhere in the country.

“The range of top-quality meats, seafood, fruits and veg, beers, ciders and wines are sublime – and all found in an area outstanding natural beauty and rich history – it’s a chef’s delight.”

His dishes showcase much of the locality’s finest, sustainable local produce, created using ingredients sourced from within 30 minutes of the kitchen.

Biswal grew up in Orissa, was educated in Calcutta and trained at the Dubai Sheraton, before moving to London, aged 26 in 2003 for spells at Mangoes and Eriki. 

He became a partner in The Indian Princess in Margate in December 2006, becoming patron in 2010. His restaurant is recommended by all the country’s top restaurant guides, including Michelin, AA, Good Food and Harden’s.  Dev was the resident chef on Channel 4 TV’s ‘Superscrimpers’, showing how to prepare gourmet meals on a budget. 

Other awards have included. ‘Best Restaurant’ at the coveted Taste of Kent Awards; ‘Best Indian Restaurant’ by Morrisons magazine; ‘Best Restaurant in the South East’ by the Cobra Good Curry Guide. He was named Asian Chef of the Year at the Asian Restaurant Awards.

‘The Cook’s Tale’ name pays homage to the character of apprentice Perkyn Revelour, in Geoffrey Chaucer’s C14th ‘Canterbury Tales’ anthology, who is “rather fond of wine, women and song”.

The inclusive price for the 9-day tour is: £2,460 (€2,905) per person when sharing.  £2,975 (€3,513,) for solo travellers.  The Cook’s Tour Culinary Holidays are ATOL protected.  ATOL provides financial security when you book a package holiday with a UK travel company.

• full itinerary details at:

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