We caught up with our Chef Patron Donna, who runs The Swan with her husband and fellow chef Paul, for a cheeky vodka recently and a little chat at the bar.
How much do you love Devon?
“I’m a Westcountry girl and I was born and brought up in Torquay, so I love the seaside. Being here, right in the middle of Devon, at the very heart of Devon in fact, it couldn’t be more different. It’s just as lovely here as well, with the deep wooded valleys, the chocolate-box towns and villages, the streams and rivers and the vast moorland.
“Sometimes I do miss the sea though. Thank goodness the beautiful beaches of North and South Devon are only a 40-minute drive away from us in Bampton. My favourite beach is Croyde near Barnstaple. It has the best sand in the area. In the summer months it can get a bit crowded, but on the edge of the holiday season, and even in the winter, it’s a great place for a walk. Those sea breezes certainly help blow the cobwebs away!”
What do you do on your day off?
“I am really lucky to be able to do the thing I love as a job, so on my days off you’ll still find me in the kitchen. I can’t get enough of it really and I’ll be inventing new dishes and experimenting.
“A favourite thing for me to do at the moment is play around with creating new vegetarian dishes. I’m also interested in gluten-free dishes. The vegetarian aspect is fascinating and we’ve had several pure meat eating customers who have tried my veggie dishes and love them, and it’s wonderful when that happens.”
If you could have any dish for tea tonight what would it be?
“Any and all seafood! I get very, very excited when we get something different from our fish suppliers from Newlyn and Brixham. There are so many wonderful fish dishes. It’s all so delicious.”
What do you think are The Swan’s USPs?
“I think we’ve managed to strike the perfect balance here at The Swan between a traditional pub that suits the regulars and a more contemporary eatery with good décor, service, ambience and food to bring in clientele from further afield. We’ve also got rooms so people come and stay and use us as a base to explore the area.”