In a world where supermarkets are king, Joe Wheatcroft and his team at Source may just be the perfect tonic.
Nestled in the heart of Bristol, right next to St Nick’s Market, Source is a temple dedicated to ethical, sustainable and high quality food.
Joe’s interest in food has comes from his family who were originally vegetarian. It was only when they found a good source of meat that they started to eat it, instilling in Joe a passion for where his food comes from. He trained as a fishmonger initially, hoping to provide Bristolians with sustainably sourced fish, before opening source 9 years ago.
Sourcing, unsurprisingly, is at the heart of this enterprise. Behind each product there is a story about where it’s from, how to cook it and how it was reared, all told enthusiastically by one of the several onsite chefs and shop assistants. With the exception of some chorizo from Spain, Burrata from Italy, and fish from the coast; most produce comes from North Somerset and the far reaches of Devizes.
The level of service and knowledge you get is undeniably superior to anywhere else in the city, something that would have been standard in his Grandmother’s day. “There would have been a lot more independent shops. Now we’re a stand alone independent shop – one of only a handful in Bristol, which is really scary”.
Joe has been involved in Bristol Food Connections from its conception and is still a firm supporter. For him the festival not only provides a platform to celebrate good food, but he has high hopes for its wider reach. “It can raise questions about what people are eating, what they are spending their money on and if it’s good for you. These are major points for a healthy society”.
This year’s theme, Time, also resonates with Joe. At Source they sell the freshest seafood and cheese, but also cured meat as well as smoked and salted fish. They’re all vital tools in Joe’s profession but also connect us all to the past. “These are all tools our ancestors would have used to preserve the bounty of a harvest and ensure that they have food during the leaner times”.
When asked what his Bristol Food highlight is the answer is simple. “I really love Birch. They care about the sourcing, the way it’s cooked and the service. It’s impeccable. It’s a big shame they are up for sale but I’m sure whatever they do next will do just as much for Bristol”.