Highly respected chef and restaurateur Alex Aitken has built his career on using only the finest produce and ingredients.
One of the South’s most renowned and decorated chefs – his first restaurant, Le Poussin in Brockenhurst, Hampshire earned a Michelin star in 1995 which it retained for 14 years – he has always championed simple, seasonal and, above all, local produce.
Now Chef Patron at Harbour Hotels, and specifically The Jetty Mudeford and Ocean Village Southampton along with the Kings Arms and Upper Deck in Christchurch, Dorset, one of Alex’s latest ventures involves bringing the same high quality produce and ingredients used in his restaurants to a wider market.
The result is Meadowbrook Produce, headed by his son, Justin, and part of Alex’s second generation family firm, Meadowbrook Catering.
Sourcing farm, market and specialist foods is at the heart of the business which operates from a unit on a Christchurch business park.
Mainly wholesale, the business has customers across Dorset, the New Forest and Southampton. The main service is butchery but other chef supplies and produce are also offered.
“We use tried and trusted local suppliers as well as our 15-acre Meadowbrook smallholding in Sway, Hampshire, which produces eggs, lamb, pork and occasionally beef.
“We also have a preparation, cutting and maturing facility in Christchurch where locally sourced products are bought, prepared and with the beef matured before cutting for our clients, predominately the top local chefs,” said Alex.
“Any ingredients we cannot source locally are supplemented by twice weekly visits to the London markets and traditional Smithfield butchers and traders. We pride ourselves on the quality and standards of our products. It means everything to us.”
Meadowbrook Produce has now expanded into new revenue streams such as outside catering. The wholesale business at Christchurch opens every Saturday morning to the retail trade with customers often queuing around the block.
“The business fits perfectly with our ethos of bringing the highest quality produce and ingredients to other restaurant and catering operations. I’m very proud of Justin and the way he has built up Meadowbrook Produce through sheer hard work and dedication,” said Alex.
Justin is the primary member of the family running Meadowbrook Produce , Caroline (Mum), a fellow director, has worked with Alex since they first opened Le Poussin in 1983 and today primarily handles the accounts. The couple have been married for 42 years and have five grandchildren.
Meadowbrook Catering also includes Alex’s freelance and consultative activities. An impressive career, which has included owning and operating some of the South’s most recognised hotels and restaurants, means that his advice and skills continue to be in great demand.
PKF Francis Clark has acted for Meadowbrook since its formation in 2010 as well as related business interests for over 20 years.
Our services have ranged from setting the business up on Xero cloud accounting to providing payroll and tax advice. FC Financial Planning has also supported the family with pensions and wealth management.
Alex said: “We have always found PKF Francis Clark to be very good and helpful.
“Caroline and I have become great advocates for Xero cloud accounting which allows us to keep a constant check on the financial side of the business. It’s very user-friendly and I’d highly recommend it to other businesses.”
PKF Francis Clark Partner Dan Tout, who looks after Meadowbrook, said: “As a firm we have a long and proud history of looking after family businesses, offering the support and advice to help them achieve their business goals.
“The Meadowbrook business has delivered profitable, double digit turnover growth consistently every year since it was founded.
“A number of our services have contributed towards the successful running of the business and its continual ability to grow and adapt,
“We urged Caroline and Alex to take the leap to cloud accounting which they grasped with great enthusiasm. Looking back, they were early adopters of technology that has now become commonplace in businesses looking for real-time control over their finances.
“By their own admission, Caroline and Alex wouldn’t go back to the old ways and have showed the way forward for many other businesses.
“We’re delighted that they were so impressed by our work in terms of tax advice, cloud accounting and payroll that they wanted to utilise our services further and asked us to look after their personal financial planning and pensions.
“It’s a great family business which has grown substantially in recent years and is a real success story in the food and hospitality sector.
“We’re very pleased to have been able to contribute towards the smooth running of the business and provide the advice needed to become such a profitable and successful venture,” said Dan.