We build our menus around what we grow
Next issue: assistant curator of V&A Dundee, Dr Mhairi Maxwell.
Nicci Gurr makes it her business to ensure everything is the cream of the crop, from pasture to plate.
I started off working in restaurants such as Albert Roux at Roux Fine Dining and progressed to running my own business Home Gurr’own – the play on my surname was my mother-inlaw’s idea!
To be a caterer you need patience and to be a quick-thinking problem solver. It’s more than just catering, however, as we now plan the whole event, if that’s what people want.
When we used to do a wedding there was never a professional to solve problems, and it always fell to us to sort things out. If a generator went down, people would always come to the kitchen! So in the en n nd I felt I knew how to fix th h hings.
My husband and I are very much a team. I do the weddings, run the business, and my husband rears the animals, grows the vegetables and looks after the kids.
Our motto used to be, “He grows it. She cooks it”. We make everything ourselves.
Typically, I start work at four a.m., cooking in the kitchen. My head chef and front-of-house manager come in at eight a.m. and I run through with them what needs to be done.
We make everything from scratch, so nothing is bought in. There’s a lot of prep work to do. They’re my full-time team and we do one event a week.
My front-of-house manager is in the office making stuff for the particular event, such as sign-writing, running orders, making sure everything’s nice, and then we’ll pick everything we need from a long equipment list to take to an event, like glassware, crockery and china.
I’m usually cooking until about four p.m., then sit down and do paperwork and finish at seven p.m., so it is a long day.
We usually plan our menus a year in advance so we know what we’re growing and at what time, because we also grow flowers for weddings.
With any food surplus produce we make relishes and chutney, which go on our evening cheeseboards.
Asparagus we pick and use immediately. We have 30 varieties of tomatoes, including heritage types, and cucumbers in a greenhouse which we pick when they’re really ripe.
We build our menus around what we grow, so everything is used when in season and at its very best.
There are great potatoes round here and we work with local farms so we can use them. We’ve bartered catering a birthday party or two for a ditch to be dug or a nice slab of cheese, and a local beekeeper supplies us with honey in return for having hives on our land.
I love what I do and why we do it, and I don’t think I’d change anything.