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Trencherman’s Guide 31st edition launches

The Trencherman’s Guide is the original and indispensable guide to the South West’s best restaurants and places to stay. The latest edition of the 31-year-old-guide has a new editor at its helm: Abi Manning. We caught up with her to find out what it’s like putting together this much-revered annual dining guide

The Trencherman’s Guide’s roots go back to 1992 when the West Country Tourist Board published the first edition, but in 2009 Salt Media (as a result of publishing Food Magazine) was asked by Trencherman’s chairman, leading chef Michael Caines MBE, to take over this very special guide to the finest restaurants and restaurants with rooms from Cornwall to the Cotswolds.  

Trencherman’s chair Michael Caines at the 31st edition launch. Photographer: Guy Harrop

Described by Rick Stein as ‘a guide with teeth’, the glove-compartment-sized book includes around 100 leading restaurants which are invited into the guide as a result of meeting strict quality criteria. This process is overseen by a committee of industry experts chaired by Michael and the Salt team, while the reviews of the restaurants are written by its experienced inhouse food writers, who also write for sister publications Food Magazine and the Independent Coffee Guide series.

The 31st edition was edited by Abi Manning, who has worked on the guide’s editorial team as a features writer since 2017.

four smiling people on beach
Trencherman’s editor Abi Manning (centre) with chefs Guy Owen, Adam Handling, Harriet Mansell and Nicholas Balfe. Photographer: Guy Harrop

Commenting on the latest issue, she said: ‘It has been a privilege to take on the editorship of a publication that has such a rich history – how many dining guides can you name that are over 30 years old? Yet I’m also thrilled to be taking it on the next phase of its journey – one that’s thoroughly forward-looking – and the 31st edition embodies this by feeling fresher than ever. 

This is a new era for the Trencherman’s Guide, as many restaurants are moving to a more relaxed style of dining – without compromising on quality. It means there’s an incredibly diverse array of establishments included; this year’s 106 member restaurants range from formal restaurants to dining pubs, bistros and bottle shops. There are also 25 new additions – all of which have surpassed the strict criteria necessary for gaining entry to the guide.’

As well as compiling and editing the guide, the Salt team are responsible for all aspects of its production, from liaising with member restaurants to printing the finished product.

‘Everything from the photography selection to the design elements is carefully considered. As a prestigious publication, renowned for being the essential guide to eating out in the South West, we take its production seriously. The editing process – which includes a reviewing and scoring system completed by experienced food journalists – is extremely rigorous to ensure each entry meets the high standards our readers expect.’

Plating up the Trencherman’s launch lunch at the Ugly Butterfly by Adam Handling. Photographer: Guy Harrop

Each edition of the guide is launched at a prestigious lunch event attended by chefs and restaurateurs who feature in the guide, as well as partners of the guide and event suppliers. This year the event was hosted at the much-celebrated Ugly Butterfly by Adam Handling at Carbis Bay in Cornwall.

‘Everyone who attended was blown away by the spectacular setting, the exceptional food and the warmth and hospitality of our hosts at Ugly Butterfly; the atmosphere was one of real celebration,’ says Abi.

The 31st edition of the guide can be purchased from the Trencherman’s Guide website and sourced from member restaurants. To stay up to date with new finds, foodie events and recommended places to visit, you can also sign up to receive the weekly Trencherman’s email newsletter.