I first met Kate through her keen fly-fishing husband & son! But talk soon drifted away from fishing onto food. Kate is a private cook & caterer and her clients include a-list actors & writers, through to Royalty!!
Where did you start your cooking career?
I used to do a lot of temporary nanny jobs for big houses when the parents were going on holiday. I used to advertise in the Lady magazine, which a few years ago is what you did. I was always amazed that some people would let a total stranger in to look after their children while they went on holiday! The majority of my work then was in & around Winchester. Most of these had cooks who worked in their nice warm kitchens, listening to the radio and making all this lovely food. So after a while of looking after children, I decided to give up being a nanny and become a cook instead!
That was it and without any training, I learnt through trial & error. I think that this experience is better than qualifications. People imagine that catering is hard, but this really is because they imagine doing it on their little cooker, with little pots & pans. Whereas I have a huge oven, loads of fridges and large pots & pans. Really if you can cook for ten, then you can cook for a hundred, you just have to multiple it – it’s not complicated, you just need to be organized with a good list!
I do all the actual cooking but I have a fantastic team of helpers who have become good friends who help me on the day of the event with setting up, serving and clearing up and moral support! I couldn’t manage without them.
I have been catering for The Duchy of Cornwall at Poundbury for 10 years, the highlights of the year are the visits from Prince Charles and his guests, He always asks me to make him a cup of tea, Earl Grey with milk and honey and a dash of Laphroaig single malt whisky!
I also do the catering for the Lord and Lady Fellowes which is great fun as they are lovely and they have interesting and famous friends. Over Christmas and New Year I met several of the Downton actors and last year Steph and Dom the ‘posh pissed’ couple from Gogglebox came for lunch which was amusing.
I cater for drinks parties, lunches and dinner parties and also deliver meals to holiday houses around Dorset. I make endless sandwiches for several companies in Dorchester including Symonds and Sampson for all the Agricultural and County shows during the Summer.
I don’t advertise, all my bookings are through word of mouth and have to turn things away; it’s ridiculous, there is so much work out there, so there is no looking for more work!!
Favourite ingredients/style of cooking?
Fish, olives – Middle Eastern food & Thai are my favourites. Nigel Slater is my favourite TV chef.
Where possible I source local organic produce.
Funniest thing (in retrospect but not at the time!) I was making watercress soup for about forty people and I didn’t put the top on the liquidiser properly and the whole kitchen & me was covered in watercress soup. It looked like a swamp, with green soup dripping from the ceiling!
Fail safe recipe/family favourite?
Multiple roasts when my son is home from Uni and I’m always trying to think of new ways with the trout that he fills the freezer with.
Holidays, always food related?
Usually fishing related! Last year it was Slovenia the year before it was Canada.
Fine dining or casual?
I like casual and fine dining and anything that I haven’t had to cook!
Desert Island food essentials?
Champagne, olives, lightly salted kettle crisps, mature Cheddar cheese and Lindt chocolate, I wouldn’t need anything else.
Music to cook with?
Radio 4 especially Eddie Mair or a cd, current favourite is Jess Glynne.
Tea or coffee?
Taylor’s of Harrogate rich Italian coffee and Twinnings Darjeeling.
Here is Kate’s recipe for Beetroot and horseradish soup, which was delicious!
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- Put 6 medium sized unpeeled whole beetroot on a baking tray with 2 unpeeled garlic cloves.
- Drizzle with Olive Oil and cover tightly with foil.
- Bake for approx an hour until the beetroot feel soft when pierced with a skewer.
- Cool and then remove beetroot peel and squeeze garlic out of their skins.
- Tip into a magimix with 500ml chicken stock and 2 tablespoons of horseradish sauce.
- Blitz until smooth.
- Reheat until piping hot and serve with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt and some chopped chives.