celebrating 14 years of ODE
In 2006 Clare and I returned to the UK from working overseas for more than 12 years. I held Executive Chef and Food & Beverage posts at boutique hotels in Asia (Como Shambhala Estate-Bali), North America, Africa (Westcliff Hotel-South Africa, Saxon-South Africa, OberoiSahlHasheesh-Red Sea Egypt) and the Caribbean (Sandy Lane-Barbados). I had previously worked at The Waterside Inn at Bray under Michel Roux and various hotels and restaurants in London.
Clare had management experience in various sectors of the hospitality industry also so we both felt it was time to start our own restaurant business using all the experience and knowledge we had gained over the years.
Being born in Devon it felt natural to return and after many months of searching in the South West Clare and I decided on the estuary village of Shaldon, South Devon mainly due to its great railway access to London for Clare to visit home and see family and friends, its close proximity to the River Teign and nearby beaches, Dartmoor National Park, the Teign valley and Torbay just around the corner…being a chef in Devon gives unrivalled access to the finest of fresh fish, shellfish, organic dairy, meat and wild game plus some of the best organic producers who farm in the region made Shaldon the perfect location.
Late 2006 we found a 3 storey property which had previously been a ground floor restaurant and tea room for many years but at the time was not trading and in need of some serious TLC
We set about the renovating the grade 2 Georgian town house and bringing it up to date whilst respecting its heritage. We always had a very clear eco ethos for the renovation and for the restaurant concept. ODE restaurant (which later became ODE dining) opened in December 2006 and named after our postcode, we dropped the TQ14!. Our motto was refined dining, locally inspired and thoughtful hospitality.
The intimate dining room had just seven tables, it was almost like welcoming you into our home! I worked in the kitchen with an apprentice and Clare worked front of house…as they say the rest is history…
During our time operating ODE dining we were fortunate to have won or been shortlisted for numerous regional and national awards, Including winning “Taste of the West” South West Restaurant of the year 2008 and 2009, Listed in the National Restaurant Awards top 100 restaurants and Sustainable Restaurant Association highest award of 3 stars and SRA National Restaurants of the Year 2012. ODE was also consistently listed in all UK’s major food guides attaining 2 AA rosettes for culinary excellence, Waitrose Good Food Guide every year of opening scoring a 6/10 and Michelin Guide red knife and fork, Hardens and many more.
We have had numerous reviews in local and national publications, some of which can be viewed on our awards page, We have been fortunate to have championed our regions amazing produce appearing on BBC Country file cooking River Teign sand eels and BBC Good Food promoting South Devon Brown crab.
In 2009 when our daughter Thula was born it made us think about where we could eat out as a family and that had the same or similar principles. Many of our customers at ODE had young families faced the same challenges. We noticed a gap in the market locally to provide quality, ethically sourced food served in a family friendly environment.
On our many walks to Ness Cove we often passed the two derelict stable buildings on the edge of the Ness car park and always thought what a great location for a cafe… firstly lots of parking and imagine….. a sustainable building, quality regional seasonal produce, prepared to order by chefs, affordable, family friendly and add to all that great views and close to the beach …..
In 2011 our local council decided to sell the two buildings, we put in a tender with our sustainable vision to give the former stables a new lease of life….
The very year ODE dining was awarded the inaugural Sustainable Restaurant of the Year 2012 our offer to purchase the stables was accepted by our local council and the cafe-ODE concept was born.
With the help from friends and family and ethical bank Triodos we embarked on the 3 month part new build, renovation and conversion aiming to be eco conscious in every aspect …. A timber frame new build, Solar thermal, sedum roof, renewable energy, induction cooking suite, recycling and up cycling and much more..
We planned to open for the Olympic Torch procession through the village, Matt Bellamy and MUSE would be our first guests after running the torch across Shaldon Bridge …….we succeeded…just! .
cafe-ODE in its first year became the highest rated sustainable restaurant in the UK scoring a whopping 94% scoring even higher than ODE dining. cafe-ODE went on to win the award for an unprecedented two successive years in 2013 and 2014 beating the likes of River Cottage, A hat trick for ODE- true food and something we are extremely proud of!.
In 2014 the ODE true food group of businesses won a “CATEY”for Sustainable business widely regarded as the industry Oscars. This award stands pride of place in the cafe open kitchen area with all our awards for customers to see..
With the success of the cafe-ODE concept 2015 saw our first partnership with the stunning Gara Rock Resort in the South Hams…after being approached by the owners cafe-ODE at Gara Rock was created…We spent two successful years trading during which time the spectacular cafe achieved SRA 3 star rating which introduced many customers, local suppliers and the area to our sustainable principles and initiatives. The resort today continues to follow many of our policies and procedures.
In 2016 we were approached by South West Holiday Parks to design a restaurant and bar facility to complement the multi-million pound re development and refurbishment. The ODE&Co, true pizza culinary experience was created, an open kitchen design with a centrepiece wood fired oven, large restaurant facility and contempary bar…ODE&Co was the only restaurant in a holiday park listed in the Waitrose Good Food Guide 2018 and 2019.
The same year to develop our “true pizza” concept we purchased a vintage “Rice” horse box that housed a traditional wood fired oven.. we named it ODE on the ROAD. During this time we created our sour dough pizza recipes and offering taking the horsebox on the road to private weddings, corporate and charitable events in Devon.
The horsebox now has pride of place on our top terrace at cafe-ODE. We often light the oven in the warmer busier Summer months for pizza evenings and private parties..
Over the years since we began our journey in 2007 ODE has risen to the very forefront of the sustainable food movement in the UK… I was invited to 10 Downing street and met with Prime Minister David Cameron with other top chefs including Gordon Ramsay as part of the “Britain is Great” Campaign. Our profile has given us opportunity to spread the sustainable word, giving talks and demonstrations to schools and learning institutes such as Ashburton Cookery School, River Cottage … I have been fortunate over the years to have spoken about ODE as far afield as Oslo, most recently I sat on an expert panel discussing single use plastics in London and also honoured to be a judge for a number of national sustainable awards. We will continue this work and more with the aim of promoting sustainability not only in our industry but also to our younger generations.
Yes the common thread between our businesses is “sustainability” but above all it’s about working in tune with nature providing fantastic hospitality utilising the finest regional and seasonal ingredients prepared with care, a wonderful combination!
Due to the economic downturn in 2019 we made the difficult decision to downsize and re group bringing eveything under one roof, focusing our attention on “cafe-ODE” at Ness Cove.
During the global pandemic in 2020 we were certified COVID safe and have remained true to our sustainable values.
Currently we remain like many under some Government restrictions, still not knowing how long for or what the future in the hospitality industry will be – our outdoor seating areas are open, takeaway is still avaialable and we have had to adapt our business in many ways over this uncertain period. We have introduced our click & collect, pre-order, curbside delivery, our on line store stocking items & ingredients that we use in our kitchen, we have tried festival tents on the top terrace but due to the area being exposed when high winds & storms come in this was not a a long term cover solution, we have now made an entrance into the stables from the outside which allows customers to enter straight into the stables for shelter in the autumn & winter months & for the rest of the year, we have come up with a Stable etiquette so all can enjoy when adhering to this.
We are now delighted to be collabarating with other like minded businesses in our wider area becoming a local hub supplying, artisan breads, speciality beverages and more.
When we opened the doors at ODE dining in the village we had 10 year trading goal, the industry and especially operating small restaurants is notoriously difficult… so after trading for 12 successful years we decided to call time and will not re open at 21 Fore Street instead we plan to turn the three storey property into a family home so we can remain in the village where our daughter attended school and where we have over years made many friends…
Customers may well recognise me as the face of ODE true food but we operate very much as a team with Clare being the back bone of the business working tirelessly behind the scenes, looking after the design and decor, sourcing new products, reviewing policies, procedures and procurement, developing menus, social media, marketing ensuring all our standards are met throughout our businesses, looking after the day to day running of the business and our small team.
We really look forward to welcoming you soon..
Tim, Clare, Thula and Team ODE
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cafe-ODE at Ness Cove