Thank you Tanya and John for a wonderful evening, the food was absolutely amazing, and the whole experience was really special.
The Knife & Fork Experience
I have created a unique dining experience, a 'home restaurant', where you can be our guests in our family dining room, overlooking the mature garden, where, depending on the time of year and the weather, you can enjoy a complementary pre dinner drink and canapés. I write the menu based on availability, seasonality and what I fancy delighting my guests with. I use the very best ingredients, including local produce as well as a few vegetables, fruits, herbs and salads that I have grown.
Come along and enjoy a delicious five course meal all hand prepared and selected by me, with additional coffee and hand made petits fours to round off the evening. Enjoy top quality food in a relaxed and sociable atmosphere as our guests.
I think I actually live to cook, eating is just a very convenient by-product. I have cooked from a young age and discovered very early on I also love to cook for others.
My earliest cooking memory is from infant school in the days when cooking was taught in school. A huge clue to my age no doubt. We made fairy cakes and I can still see the daffodil yellow bowl, wooden spoon and remember stirring the eggs into the butter and sugar, watching the orange yolk slowly amalgamating with the rest of the mixture. No doubt we licked the spoons and the bowl as I am sure health and safety had not been invented back then.
Since then, I have always cooked and latterly cooked and entertained friends and family with my creations. Eventually I ended up running a catering company, almost by accident, as a friend suggested that I should start charging for my services. I spent so much of my time cooking and as there was always far too much for my family and neighbours, it seemed sensible to start a business. I had resorted to ‘forcing’ food on anyone that came to our house – postman, workmen, you get the picture…
Starting small, I catered for drinks parties and small celebrations but soon I was catering for weddings for 150 guests. I loved it. On moving to France I left catering behind and then we moved to Singapore. The climate there was a huge restriction when it came to cooking. If you can imagine trying to cook a meal while standing in a sauna, you will understand the issue!
On returning to the UK, I decided to train as a chef. No one quite understood why I wanted or needed to but it was a lifelong dream to learn the secrets of the trade and qualify as a chef. I enrolled on a full time course at Ashburton Cookery School’s Professional Chef’s Academy and qualified 6 months later. So, with a good 25 years experience of cooking and now a trained chef I am delighted to be able to invite you into my home and to be able to cook for you.
I take my inspiration for menus from the ingredients and cuisine of both France and Asia, mixed in with my foundation of British cuisine, using local and seasonal ingredients as well as more unusual ones from further afield. My menus are varied as I love to surprise and delight, adding a little unexpected item here and there to lift the flavours and pleasure.
TimingsPlease arrive on time at 7.30pm for 8pm. Everyone sits down and eats together and I will have planned all the cooking and preparation of every course based upon this. Unfortunately, if you are late we will have to start without you.
DrinkPlease bring your own wine and any other soft drinks that you may like. We do not have an alcohol licence as this is our home, not a restaurant. Also, we do not charge corkage. Unfortunately we cannot chill down your bottles of wine but we do provide ice buckets to keep your drinks chilled throughout the evening. We also supply filtered tap water.
DietPlease advise me of any food allergies or if you are vegetarian when you book. I am very happy to adapt the menu for you or your guests so the full menu can be experienced even with a dairy intolerance, for example, or if one of you is vegetarian. I want everyone to be able to join in and experience the menu so I serve that individual with a slightly different menu, where necessary; it doesn’t mean everyone will get dairy free or vegetarian! Sadly, I am not able to cater for ‘fussy eaters’; the pop up restaurant experience is for the adventurous but fear not, if you are served something you don’t fancy, you will not go hungry and I will not be offended if you leave it. I design the menu with a wide variety of seasonal ingredients throughout the 5 courses and also for the canapés and petits fours. Eating at my restaurant is a chance to try dishes and flavours you may not order in a conventional restaurant and we have had quite a few converts to food that they thought they did not like! Also, I do not use more controversial ingredients such as veal or goat without advertising that fact in advance.
SeatingWe have large sociable tables so it is likely you will be seated with people who you have never met before. This is actually one of the many attractions for most people attending. It makes for a fun evening meeting new and interesting people. If you would like to book the whole table do let me know when you book and I will let you know if it will be possible based on numbers and bookings I may have taken previously. If not, you can always come along on a different night or book a private dinner party (minimum 12 guests).
TippingShould you tip? This is completely up to you. I ask for a minimum donation of £45 per person for the whole evening, which I believe to be excellent value. Not only do you know what your whole evening costs (no hidden expensive charges for cups of coffee or refills or other drinks) but you can choose your own wine too and budget accordingly. As you are not paying a huge mark up on alcohol, as you would do in a restaurant, you could save the difference or choose to spend that much and try a bottle you wouldn’t normally buy. As for tipping, it’s up to you.
DressI don’t like the phrase ‘smart casual’ so I’m not going to say it and anyway, I actually think it is up to you. It is your evening. Usually the girls like dressing up and boys will be happy to do the same but as long as you are comfortable and enjoy the evening, that is all that matters. I do fancy doing a few themed nights where fancy dress could be part of it but let’s leave that hanging for the moment!
PrivacyI do realise that I am opening up our home to strangers but my experience is that most ‘strangers’ are not strangers for long. Many of our guests have become friends and the same was true when I had my catering company; I ended up catering for numerous family celebrations over the years, watching the children grow up and have their own big celebratory birthday parties. However, having said that, I don’t really want to find someone ferreting through my wardrobe (not that my friends do that when they visit), so please do respect our privacy and just stick to the rooms that are public i.e. the ones you are invited into. John, Barney and Emily are happy for you to be here and will pop in and say Hi if they are not helping me that evening.
ServicePlease treat us all like we are friends. We really want you to have a great experience and a fabulous evening so we want to make sure your evening runs smoothly. Everyone wants a friendly fun and relaxed atmosphere even though we are working so no snapping of fingers- just treat us as you would the host at a dinner party!
HelpingThe great thing about going to a restaurant is there is no washing up or having to help clear the table. Luckily, the same is true at Knife & Fork. As much as you are our guests in our home we do the clearing up etc so that you can enjoy a lovely evening relaxing and not worrying about the mound of washing up at the end of the evening. Luckily, we have a washing up fairy – me!
MannersWe have invited you into our home so please just relax and have a fabulous evening as we are very happy to have you here as our guests. Please just act as you would at your friend’s dinner parties. When to start eating? Each table will be served in turn so please start and don’t wait for the room to be served. I am working from a domestic kitchen and I don’t have a kitchen pass so service will be slightly slower than a restaurant, but this is so everyone gets served piping hot food on hot plates. p.s If you want to pay compliments do feel free! But leading swiftly on to…
ComplaintsTricky. Obviously, if you are dissatisfied or disappointed I really want to know. I would be mortified to find out someone had not enjoyed the evening and/or the food. We are all human so I am sure there will be times when something doesn’t go quite right, but I will hold my hands up, admit it and rectify it as best as I can at the time. All I ask is that if you are unhappy and prefer not to tell me on the night, please phone or email me and give me the chance to rectify it as I would really prefer not to find out via social media.
I love all food, eating it and cooking it, so it is difficult to completely describe what my style is. Sometimes it can be traditional British, French or Asian or a blend of all or some of them.
The most important thing to me is that it tastes fantastic.
I want every mouthful to be delicious, whether it is a perfectly cooked poached egg with a sprinkle of sea salt or an explosion of Thai flavours in a dipping sauce. The two are a million miles apart but both should be a pleasure to eat.
These are examples of the types of menu that are on offer at Knife & Fork's home restaurant. Guests find that not knowing the menu is all part of the experience. If, however, you would like to know the menu for a particular night, please feel free to email me. Also, if you are booking a private event we can discuss menus and budgets to suit your occasion.
A set five course taster menu is served with complementary canapés and welcome drink to start, with petits fours and tea or coffee afterwards.