Cooking on open fire and sleeping under the stars are just two of the elements of Suffolk’s hottest opening, Fire and Feast Suffolk. Running alongside an established family business, the Mobbs family is following a dream – and sharing their passion for sustainability and local food along the way. Samantha Mattocks visits to find out more.
“It is strange,” says Judith, whose husband, Chris, is the fourth generation of the Mobbs family at Cratfield near Halesworth. “Even when I was a student, I was always into farming and I had a dream where I had my own restaurant in a field, where people could come and enjoy food grown around them. Many years on, this dream is reality with Fire and Feast Suffolk! It is based around all things we love – local food, cooking on wood and being outdoors.”
The Mobbs family has lived in Cratfield for over 150 years, since William Mobbs took over the village shop and then moved into farming. His son, Percy, established P A Mobbs and Sons at Cantley Farm, known for their free range Christmas turkeys. Percy and his sons, Roy and Russell, responded to changes in agriculture, moving from pigs and blackcurrants to turkeys and arable crops, and also into contracting, owning the first combine harvester in the district. Today, Chris and Judith are the fourth generation of Mobbs’ farming and turkey producers in Cratfield.
“Encouraged by our children, Fran, Alan, and Graham, we have become increasingly passionate about sustainability,” explains Judith. “As a family, we felt it was time for another change – one to benefit the environment, enhance the local community, and strengthen the future of our small family farm. Fire and Feast Suffolk is the result.”
“The principles of Field to Fork are already at the heart of our approach to producing our Christmas turkeys as we feed them the traditional way on homegrown corn that we prepare for them each morning,” continues Chris. “However, we want to take this further and have decided to become part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. This means we can grow a greater variety of crops for the turkeys, but also rewild other parts of the farm to encourage more plant, insect, and bird life.”
“We have been inspired by the success of farm open days and our butterfly meadows,” adds Judith. “We want to make the farm more accessible to local people and visitors. Fire and Feast Suffolk is the natural evolution of this. We both love camping and I have always loved cooking over fire, and now we can welcome visitors to share our beautiful, wild space and big skies, whether it is through camping or coming for Saturday night suppers in our new tipi or enjoying Sunday brunch with us.”
The focal point of Fire and Feast Suffolk is the giant tipi, located next to the newly planted potager garden and vegetable plot, with an orchard also being planted. The Giant Fire and Feast Tipi will be the venue for Saturday night rustic suppers during summer, with sample dishes including fire-baked king prawns with garlic mayonnaise, garden leaves and sourdough; fire-baked loin of lamb with seasonal vegetables from the Fire and Feast garden and chappa potatoes; and fire-baked peaches with ginger crumble and local clotted cream ice cream.
On Sundays, the tipi will house their Sunday Brunch Café, offering brunch from 10am to 2pm, as well as hot drinks and homemade cakes available throughout the day. “We want to do something for the community as well,” adds Fran. “If you come here under your own steam, on foot or on bike, for example, you will receive a discount. It is all about sustainability.”
Running alongside this is the camping side, which has been well thought out by the Mobbs’, who are keen campers. There are eight tent pitches, generously sized and well-spaced, with large meadow pitches cut into long grass to create further privacy as well as encouraging wildlife. Two pre-pitched South African safari tents are also available, each sleeping up to four people. Each pitch comes with a fire bowl, grill, tripod, and cooking pot, and a picnic table/bench. The safari tents are also equipped with air mattresses, lighting, storage space, basic cooking equipment, and a complimentary first basket of logs.
Not only are the views great, but the facilities are top-notch too, with toilets and sizeable showers located in a large barn with an indoor cherry orchard, offering space to relax or escape from the elements as needed. In winter, the tipi will move into the barn, enabling Fire and Feast Suffolk to hold cosy indoor events. In addition, there is an outdoor campers’ kitchen next to the barn, providing washing up and fridge facilities and charging points for campers. A shop is being put together, offering campers the chance to buy goods from some of the many local producers in the immediate area.
Complementing all of this are woodfire cooking courses offered for beginners and more experienced cooks, and for families. “It is important that children are aware of where their food comes from,” says Judith. “For families with children aged seven and over, you can harvest your own vegetables from the Fire and Feast garden before preparing a range of dishes for a shared lunch. Our experienced course – the ember edition – includes the opportunity to try different kit and methods such as Dutch Ovens, Asado and pit cooking, as well as more advanced dishes over the wood-fired grill.
“We think that sourcing food locally, farming sustainably, and getting closer to where our food comes from is important – but so is having fun and making memories. Whether you are coming to feast or camp with us, we hope you will enjoy the experience we have created for you as much as we have enjoyed putting it together.”
With evolution, sustainability, education, and awareness subtly taught alongside delicious food
and an inspiring place, I have little doubt that Fire and Feast Suffolk have created something very
- Saturday night suppers in the giant tipi cost £20 for two courses and £25 for three courses. Camping starts at £16 per person per night and the safari tents at £75 per night for up to four people, with a minimum two-night stay. Woodfire cooking courses start at £60 for one adult and one child for the half-day course, and from £130 per person for the full day course.