Charlie Hicks at French Garden is owned and run by Darren Fitzpatrick, Iain Furness, Grenville Snowdon and Charlie Hicks.
We are a Bristol based company supplying the very best fresh produce to hotels, restaurants and shops in and around Bristol, Bath and South Devon. We offer a bespoke service tailored to our customer's individual needs which is specifically aimed at the restaurant and hotel trade.
Our wide ranging and long standing contacts with the best of the South West's growers, New Covent Garden Market, the other major European markets and the rest of the world enable us to offer an unrivalled range of hard to find specialist produce and highly competitive everyday items.
We think the best way to judge a supplier is by their customers. Click here to see some of the hotels, restaurants and shops we are proud to supply and here to see some of them in action in our video section.
Who we are
Darren Fitzpatrick. A former professional Ice Hockey player (having represented England and Great Britain at Junior Level), Darren studied Engineering before embarking on an extensive I.T career in Technical Services and Solutions that spanned over fifteen years. Upon moving to the South West in 2003 (to settle in Bristol full time with his family), he decided to embark on a new adventure with Charlie Hicks, moving from the world's newest to the world's second oldest profession. Darren is the Director of all Catering Services for French Garden. His financial, logistical and managerial skills (that our industry desperately needs but so often lacks) are the reason French Garden are the chef's preferred choice.
Grenville Snowdon began his career following his father into the family firm, a fruit and vegetable wholesalers. Aged twenty he started his own business supplying fresh produce to London’s top hotels and restaurants. In response to customer demand for new and more exciting produce he began to source supplies direct from Rungis market in France, Europe’s biggest and most impressive food market. The overwhelmingly positive reaction from London’s leading chefs led Grenville to start The French Garden and, in 1987, Covent Garden had its first specialist wholesaler of French produce. Starting with one small unit and a twenty ton lorry French Garden expanded rapidly, soon supplying specialist produce across the UK and helping to fuel the British restaurant boom of the early nineties. Today French Garden has a ten unit, fully fridged premises in Covent Garden with two or three artics a day bringing in produce from some of the best growers in France and the rest of Europe. If you’ve eaten at any of Britain’s leading restaurants in the past twenty five years chances are you’ve enjoyed ingredients supplied by French Garden and with the new purpose built depot opening in Rungis this autumn that is only set to continue.
Charlie Hicks has been a greengrocer all his adult life following a family tradition that spans five generations. For over thirty years he worked in and out of Covent Garden Market - with a four year spell in Rungis – providing produce for many of the UK’s best restaurants and hotels. It was in Covent Garden that Charlie first met Gregg Wallace and together they presented BBC Radio 4's cult hit ‘Veg Talk’ for seven years (when they weren’t busy delivering fruit and vegetables to nearly three quarters of the London entries in The Good Food Guide). Charlie firmly believes in the supply of information as well as produce. All our customers have his mobile number so he can always be contacted directly ensuring our customers never have to suffer the horrors of an ill informed telesales department.
Iain Furness our Managing Director is the man with his hand firmly on the French Garden tiller, working right across the company to ensure that we function as a cohesive whole. Swiss watchmakers would envy his intricate organizational skills which he began to develop with his first job, overseeing distribution and quality control in the fashion industry. Next Iain joined his brother in the accounts department of Fyffe’s in New Covent Garden where he met his wife. In 1993 Grenville invited Iain to join a young but rapidly growing French Garden where he has since played a major role in making the company what it is today.