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.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

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.blenk­i­

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.hayloft­ w

HIGH STAN­DARDS: For­mer Masterchef con­tes­tant Juli­ette Forden-Smith runs Hayloft Foods, named af­ter her home with its stun­ning kitchen.

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