Championing locality, seasonality, and authentic artisan cuisine, The Gatherers, based in Norwich, is a highly-praised vegan restaurant that has become a hub for plant-based innovation in the city. We chatted to owner and chef Daniel Farrow about his new plant-powered concepts, his love of European fare, and the growing demand for vegan food: 

Tell us about your inspiration for opening The Gatherers? 

Previous to opening The Gatherers I was catering weddings and events, and running many different pop-up restaurant concepts serving plant-based cuisine, mostly inspired by my travels through Europe. I’ve always absolutely adored French bistro-style dining and authentic Italian cuisine. 

 Something I felt was missing in the UK as a whole was a restaurant that brought authentic European dishes to the table that were already plant-based with little to no adjustment. Great inspirations for me are have always been the purveyors of garden to table cuisine – the greats like Raymond Blanc and his restaurant at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and also Alain Passard and his phenomenal restaurant L’Arpège in Paris. Utilising seasonal, local and homegrown produce is something I will always champion.  

You are about to launch two new concepts; Italiano Vegano and The Garden Club. Is it true these were meant to be restaurants rather than takeaways? 

Yes, both of these ideas have been on paper for several years, however due to the pandemic, I decided to kickstart them as takeaways before looking for brick and mortar locations. It’s my intention still, though, to find venues for both. I love Italy and plan to utilise recipes I’ve learned there from locals.  

I aim to create super traditional Italian cuisine for Italiano Vegano, where I will also utilise my great passion for wine to pair the menu with exceptional Italian wines. The Garden Club will be a more casual affair, serving accessible, delicious dining for all, eventually in an indoor garden venue. I can’t wait to bring you more details on these ventures soon! 

 Are you worried that the demand for vegan food will go away, or do you think it will only get more popular? 

Absolutely not! The rise of veganism has grown exponentially year on year, so the potential for us is huge. However, what we do isn’t really just about veganism- it’s about food! It’s about the love of all things that hospitality brings – the food, the wine, the environment.  

The food we serve at The Gatherers has its roots in traditional European cuisine that people have enjoyed for centuries that wouldn’t have been labelled as plant-based or vegan until now, but always was. So much of the pasta in southern Italy is already suitable for vegans. Classic pizzas without cheese are vegan, so much of the world-famous bread in France is vegan – so much food is. The abundance and potential of the produce grown not just in the UK but across Europe is key to creating phenomenal dishes.  

I’d estimate that at least 80% of our customers at The Gatherers aren’t vegan, and don’t give a second thought to the idea. It’s just a bonus! I think the demand will only grow as the world focuses more on sustainable and ethical dining. 

 What were you doing previous to working in the restaurant industry? 

I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for many years, starting as a waiter as a teenager and progressing up the ranks to managing bars and restaurants. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit though; I’ve been setting up business ventures ever since I was a young teenager. I’ve always had a passion for the arts also, and I run an independent record label locally which started off when I was directing music videos. My passion for the arts and my passion for food tie in seamlessly, as there has always been an art to food.  

 What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt working in hospitality? 

The biggest lessons I’ve learnt working in hospitality don’t just apply to the restaurant, but to life. Hospitality is all about passion and love; it is a platform for all sorts of characters and individuals to come together, from partners, to friends, to family, to the teams that are built that deliver the service. Most important is the unity built with others and the harnessing of their passions and skills which are great tools for overcoming all sorts of challenges and obstacles. Teamwork, comradery, and passion are key. 

2 Muspole St, Norwich NR3 1DJ. For more information on The Gatherers, see here