Debbie has been cooking on and off for over thirty eight years, with more on than off. Her mother had a business called “Calamity Cooks”, and Debbie alongside her through my teens and beyond.
We caught up with her in the office and asked her a series of questions.
What is the most elaborate event you have catered for? Debbie said
“It is hard to put a finger on the most elaborate job, as over the years there have been several interesting and exciting occasions. From being responsible for the food for six hundred at the launching of the National Lottery at the Tower of London to cocktail parties at St. James palace. For a number of years we did lunches at Smith Lawns’ Polo Club and until four years ago, when the world match play moved to Spain, we cooked for twelve consecutive years for the golfers at Wentworth. This sounds very glamorous and living in those houses certainly was but my most scary moment ever, was being asked by one particularly famous Irish golfer and his family to make an Irish stew for supper.
My budget for these jobs was overly generous and I tried my hardest to steer them towards caviar and fillet of beef but Irish stew it had to be. However with a helping hand from his delightful mum we all ended up with a delicious Irish stew and pearl barley really isn’t that frightening at all.”
“I love to cook anything and everything. From canapés to beautiful joints of meat. Particularly our own home grown rose veal with a béarnaise sauce and veg from the garden. Followed by a homemade damson ice cream, or meringue roulade filled with lightly whipped cream and a fresh raspberry coulis. There are so many delicious dishes to make. I’m very committed to local produce, we have wonderful Herefordshire beef, Neil’s Yard cheese that hails from nearby and of course my own home grown meats, fruits and veg.”
“I have recently joined the team at Brinsop and can’t help but be impressed by how beautiful it all is and how tastefully it has been restored. It is comfortable, homely and fantastically well equipped, for those lucky enough to use the kitchen. I particularly love the Aga as I have always had one of my own and they are the beating heart I of any kitchen. The luxury of the one in the Brinsop kitchen is that one side of it is electric making it no different to a fan oven for those who are wary.”
We asked Debbie to share a special recipe with us and she said
“I would have to say a cold buffet with Coronation Chicken as centre stage. This is mainly because my mother did this for a local widower years ago and he asked her to marry him within the week. Some years later I did the same cold buffet for a confirmed forty year old bachelor and we were engaged within three days and married six weeks later. My mother and I would often laugh and congratulate ourselves on our punchy Coronation Chicken. It is old fashioned but still delicious, particularly served with hot new potatoes, roasted veg salad. Not forgetting a little bit of mixed leaf and some crusty bread. Perfect for the late arrivals.”
Coronation Chicken Recipe;
1 cooked chicken skinned and stripped.
2oz chopped onion fried in 1-2 tbsp of sunflower oil.
Add 1tbsp of medium (or HOT…if you happen to be looking for a husband !!) curry powder.
Fry for a further two minutes.
Add 1 good tsp of tomato purée + 1/4 pint of tomato juice + 1/4 pint of red wine + a bay leaf.
Bring to the boil and add a little salt, sugar, squeeze of lemon and 2tbsp of apricot jam.
Cool this mixture and when cold slowly add 1/2 pint of mayonnaise and fold in 3-4 tbsp of lightly whipped cream.
Thanks Debbie, great to have you on board.