Secret ingredient that flavours an ideal home for food lovers
This Masterchef finalist’s home has a great selling point: the perfect kitchen for cooks. Sharon Dale reports.
THE gleaming kitchen with its pristine white units, blemishfree work surfaces and a floor you could eat your dinner off, looks like it has never been used.
You’d swear it belonged to someone who existed on takeaways and microwave meals, or maybe to some exotic WAG-style creature scared of breaking her false nails.
Juliette Forden-Smith is neither of the above. In fact, she’s a former Masterchef finalist and compulsive cook who admits to being “slightly OCD” when it comes to tidiness and cleanlinesss.
“I’ve always been like that. I just like everything to be immaculate and I don’t like clutter. I wipe everything down after I’ve cooked and I always dry the sink after I’ve used it so there are no water marks,” says Juliette, who designed the kitchen to suit her needs after buying the barn, in the village of Swinton, near Malton, as a shell four years ago.
Although the barn came with pre-drawn plans, she had the internal space completely redesigned.
“On the original plans that came with the barn the whole of the downstairs was open plan. I didn’t want that because I wanted a separate kitchen. I didn’t want onion smells travelling right through the house. But it is a big kitchen and you can seat 10 round the table,” she says.
Juliette spent a large amount of her budget on kitchen units from Smith Brothers in York and insisted on an island.
“It was an absolute must for me because when people come round for dinner I can face them while I’m preparing the food. In most kitchens you face the wall,” she says.
The Smeg ceramic hob was chosen because it fits flush to the granite work surface and the Smeg cooker hood was pricey but bought for its good looks as were the striking, contemporary “pepper pot” radiators.
The Neff fan oven was picked for its even heat and ability to create the prefect Yorkshire puddings.
The kitchen units feature sixpan drawers perfect for hiding away everything from crockery to pans and appliances.
“The drawers are so deep, they’re absolutely brilliant. I like the work surfaces to be completely clutter-free. I’m a bit of a minimalist,” explains Juliette.
When buying her £950 Thermomix food processor, the salesman advised her to buy it only if she had it out on the worktop.
“He insisted that if I put it in away I wouldn’t use it. I said I would and I have proved him wrong. I use it all the time.”
The gadget is labour-saving, but it is experimenting with flavours and cooking up new recipes that helped vegetarian Juliette get to the finals of BBC’s Masterchef in 1993 and one of her recipes for cauliflower and white stilton soup features in the Best of Masterchef recipe book.
“It was a wonderful experience and getting to the last 27 out of 8,000 applicants gave me a real boost. It took over my life for a while, buy it was immense fun and I learned such a lot.”
Later, during a period of
You’re absorbed in what you’re making and you get the pleasure of seeing people enjoy your food.
depression, former drama teacher Juliette, used cooking as therapy.
“I started suffering after a bad experience but my cooking really helped me get through it.
“It’s creative and takes you away from your worries. For a time you’re absorbed in what you’re making and then you get the pleasure of seeing people enjoy your food.
“I’d advise anyone to try it. It does help.”
Her culinary skills have also brought her a new career and new confidence.
“My husband and my sister kept telling me to do something with my talent, but at that point I couldn’t face the world.
“They persuaded me to do a market stall so I could see whether my food would sell.”
It sold out within two hours and Hayloft Foods, named after her home, was born five months ago. Her fresh soups, pasta sauces and chutneys are now best sellers at farmers’ markets in Hovingham and Malton and Juliette has just won a national “Make your Mark in the Markets” award after judges secretly checked out her products and customer service.
“It means I get free stalls at some markets so I’m looking at maybe selling at York and Hull,” she says.
Hayloft, still a one-woman band, is also looking at supplying restaurants and has ambitions for a place on the supermarket shelves.
It has all the ingredients for a huge success story and the latest chapter involves selling her beloved three-bedroom barn to move to a bigger property.
“I’ll miss it, especially the kitchen. It’s my favourite place in the house and the new place needs a new kitchen, so it’s a real wrench. Not only is the Hayloft kitchen the hub of the home but it has lots of natural light and a really good feel to it which makes the process of cooking more pleasureable.
The Hayloft at Swinton, near Malton, is £285,000 and is for sale through Blenkin and Co. tel: 01904 671672, www.blenkinandco.com
Hayloft Foods can be found at Hovingham Market the first Saturday of every month and at Malton Farmers’ Market the last Saturday in every month.
Her website is www.hayloftfoods.co.uk w
HIGH STANDARDS: Former Masterchef contestant Juliette Forden-Smith runs Hayloft Foods, named after her home with its stunning kitchen.