Celebrity chef Michael Caines has described the Westcountry as a European "destination of food choice" ahead of one of the region's biggest food festivals starting today, writes Adam Walmesley.
Mr Caines, an MBE and co-founder of the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink, told the Western Morning News: "I personally believe the South West has one of the best larders in Europe.
"We have rich pastures, wonderful dairy herds, vast amounts of fishing waters and great meat stock."
More than 100 Westcountry producers and 30 top chefs are coming together for the three-day event in the city centre.
"We're bringing people together to celebrate many of the key things that are important about living and being a part of the South West, Devon and Exeter – using it to showcase the region on an international stage," Mr Caines said.
The two-star Michelin chef has backed the WMN Buy Local campaign to encourage companies and consumers to support local food producers.
Mr Caines said: "The Western Morning News Buy Local campaign is just the kind of initiative we need now.
"The festival is all about getting people to buy locally and source locally, to create a cycle of economic wealth by keeping local people in local jobs.
"The horsemeat scandal has shown there's no such thing as cheap food. If you want to buy your meat, you've got to pay a proper price for it.
"Buying things that are local in season reduces the food miles, reduces the packaging – you actually get better value and it's not necessarily more expensive."
Mr Caines, who is executive head chef at the award-winning Gidleigh Park, described Devon as "without question the food county of England."
He added: "If you put that collectively with Cornwall, Dorset, Somerset and the wider South West – we've got a big story to share."