We build our menus around what we grow

Next is­sue: as­sis­tant cu­ra­tor of V&A Dundee, Dr Mhairi Maxwell.

The People's Friend Special - - REAL LIFE -

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.

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