FLORENCIA CLIFFORD, OWNER OF PARTISAN:
Partisan is the fruition of a long term dream. Since I can remember, I have been interested in food and cooking. As a child, growing up in Argentina, it was people's pantries rather than their toy cupboards that I was curious about, their kitchens, their eating habits. With Scottish, Italian and French ancestry, food was very important in my family. Feeding others was what we loved the most.
In the early 90's, when I was 21, I moved to the USA. It was in New York, working for my sister-in-law in her boutique catering company, that I really knew I wanted to work with food. At that time, the revolution of independent artisan produce was coming alive, with big warehouse bakeries selling fresh sourdough bread, shopping in farmers markets, and witnessing a surge of great coffees shops and delis. I cooked some of the best food I had ever known, which inspired me further.
In 1994 I moved to York with my young family and every since then I have wanted to open a place just like Partisan. I spent ten years practicing as a 'Tenzo'; a Zen Cook in retreats different parts of the country, but mostly in a quaint farmhouse at the end of a mountain track in Wales. Zen cooking is a meditative practice of cooking for others with attention, compassion and awareness. It is also about awakening to your life and the beauty in everything. These was an intense and cathartic practice, but also very creative and beautiful. In 2012 I published a memoir with Vala Publishers (now Jessica Kingsley) called Feeding Orchids to the Slugs: Tales of the Zen Kitchen.
In 2012, I met my partner Hugo, who has farmed in North Yorkshire for nearly fourty years. We moved to Plaster Pitts, his arable farm, on the edge of the wolds in 2015. Hugo grows crops: mostly wheat, barley and oil seed rape. He also grows willows for energy and keeps a small herd of cattle. Together we restored the house on the farm and created a kitchen garden where we grow herbs, vegetables and flowers.
When the opportunity arose to visit the premises in Micklegate, we fell in love with the building. We could see its potential, and the nobility of the space held something very special. Being situated on Micklegate was incredibly appealing, as it is one of York's most beautiful streets. After 22 years, I knew this was the right place to open what I had always had in mind, and I embarked on this adventure of opening Partisan with Hugo, the person that pushed and encouraged me to follow this dream.
We opened Partisan at the end of October 2016. We have still a lot to learn but we have incredibly supportive staff, friends and family. We put the best of ourselves forward into ensuring people have a great experience when they walk through our door.