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Does Yeo Valley have the best staff canteen in the world?

Staff canteen at Yeo Valley
Feast: the staff canteen at Yeo Valley Photo: SWNS

A stunning country bistro has been hailed the world’s best staff canteen – where dairy workers can tuck into a Michelin-quality meal for just £2.

The eaterie at yoghurt maker Yeo Valley is so good it is now open to the public and winning rave reviews from restaurants critics and customers.

It is run by a Michelin-trained chef and boasts stunning views across the Somerset countryside from the Mendip Hills.

And thanks to a generous subsidy, the 120 staff can tuck into a light meal for just £2 or a larger hot meal for £4 – less than the price of a Big Mac meal.

Typical dishes include asparagus, soft poached quail egg, confit of tomato and deep fried polenta for just £2.

All of the food is organic and locally sourced by executive chef Paul Collins, who has spent 20 years working at various Michelin-starred restaurants.

Most of the vegetables and fruit are grown by a community farm five miles away, meat comes from Yeo Valley’s own Holt Farm or a local butchers, and trout is fished from a lake at the bottom of the hill.

Venue manager Claire Davies said: “The staff love it. Who can get the type of food they get on a daily basis for such good value?

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“New employees can’t believe it when they see the view and other staff enjoying the food or a coffee. When people come for interviews they are blown away.

“It is a different menu every day, with all the food locally sourced. If it isn’t organic, we make sure it is local and ethically produced. Paul, the executive chef, meets all the suppliers.

“Personally, I love the poached eggs and asparagus. The difficult thing is having to get up and go back to my desks after lunch.”

Yeo Valley is a family-run business which has grown into one of Britain’s biggest dairy producers since being founded by the current Chief Executive’s parents in 1961.

It now has a turnover of £275 million, employs over 1,500 staff and is now the biggest supplier of organic products to UK supermarkets.

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The Yeo Valley Staff Canteen caters for 120 staff who work at the company’s HQ in Blagdon, Somerset.

Earlier this week the menu boasted beef burger with tomato, gherkins and red onion in a brioche bun with skinny fries for just £4.

For vegetarians, there was fish cake with roasted cherry tomatoes, chervil hollandaise & pea shoot salad, served with potato wedges & purple sprouting broccoli.

Dessert, which was a choice of chocolate brownie, lemon posset or apple and rhubarb crumble cost just £2.

Yeo Valley worker Rupert Hodges, an account manager, said: “The food is absolutely stunning. I’ve worked for a few food manufacturing companies, and this was life-changing.

“I have thought for a few months that this is absolutely ridiculous. The quantity and quality is fantastic.

“For me, in the sales team, I would normally get a sandwich on the road so it is definitely an incentive to come in and have an incredible meal at HQ.”

The food has gone down so well the Yeo Valley Staff Canteen has now been opened up to the general public – albeit at full price, with main courses costing up to £12.

It has even won praise from restaurant reviewers.

Local food critic Mark Taylor of the Bristol Post newspaper wrote: “Careful, respectful cooking of hyper-local produce in a breathtaking rural setting, the best staff canteen imaginable can now be enjoyed by everybody.

“There can be no better reminder that Yeo Valley is still very much a real place and much more than simply a name on the yoghurt pot or milk carton in your fridge.”

RECIPES FROM YEO VALLEY

Warm English chicken salad with tarragon salad cream recipe

Whole baked trout with crunchy bacon and hyssop stuffing recipe

Orange-roasted beetroot salad with goat’s cheese and dill recipe

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