Phone: 01580 241369

Love of cooking started at a young age.  Always messing about in the kitchen cooking with my Mum.  Did cookery at school (it was on the curriculum back in those old days).  Also did an A level in Food & Nutrition.  My friends used to say cooking was in my DNA.  During my student days, my bestie said I was like “Ready Steady Cook” – I could open the store cupboard and fridge, and create a meal out of nothing…. her words not mine.

My love for doing it started at the Crusaders gliding club in Dhekelia Cyprus, where I cooked out the back of a bus, on the airfield for the members.  This was 1978 to 80 – so maybe we pioneered street food.  My dad was a glider pilot there, so we lived on the airfield most week ends.  It was hot and boring, so I was glad for something to do.  I was doing A levels at King Richard’s school on the Sovereign Base.

I’ve always worked in Catering since leaving full time education in 1983.  Completed an HND in Hotel Catering and Institutional Management at Holloway Polytechnic in North London, now part of London Metropolitan University.  This qualification made me a Licentiate member of the HCIMA (hotel & catering institutional management association).  You then had to work in the industry to earn your MHCIMA (full member).  Writing this I have discovered they have rebranded to the Institute of Hospitality.

First job was working for the Inner London Education Authority School Meals service, at The Sir John Cass Foundation primary school in Aldgate, Tower Hamlets as Head Cook.  I was responsible for a service up to 200 school meals per day, to the school as well as a transported service of 50 to 70 children and adults from the social services nursery in the basement of the same building.  I had 35p per meal to spend for the food on the plate.  So, we cooked everything from scratch.  We butchered sides of meat, tumbled sacks of potatoes and vegetables.  Made out own beefburgers, sausage rolls etc.  it certainly wasn’t grey mashed potato and lumpy custard.  I was proud of the food I served.

After school one day I was on the bus going home, and one of the pupils recognised me.  She said “hello miss” – “I didn’t recognised you with your clothes on” (out of uniform)

I worked in all sorts of schools and colleges in Tower Hamlets – nursery, infant and junior.  Special schools, secondary and colleges such as the London college of furniture. Promoted through all the ranks, over time. Same service just bigger numbers and a larger team of people to manage.

1988 moved to London Borough of Lewisham School Meals as an area catering manager.  This was the making of my career.  I really felt like I was making a difference.  I made my mark at Deptford Green Secondary school by altering the service deliver to reduce queues, and improve the service delivery of better quality hot food.  I was the trained trainer for the Borough – so I delivered many craft based training courses, as well as all the food hygiene and legislative requirements, plus computer based training for the administrative and financial side of the service.  As a direct result of yet another restructuring exercise, I ended up as the contract catering manager for the whole service.  106 primary schools, 12 secondary schools, 3 special schools, meals on wheels service (about 400 per day), and 3 civic restaurants within council offices.  Big job, big responsibility but I thrived on it.

In 1999 I was TUPE’d over to Compass group, who took over the contract from Lewisham.  They provided a PFI (private financed initiative) to invest in the school kitchens and the whole catering services.  We could not tender.  Compass group transferred me to Southwark School meals, where I met Lyn, and our friendship began.

We both created Yvelyn Catering in 2002.  We worked out of Charlie Magri’s Pub the Victoria – mile end road, near where I lived.  Then we moved to Kingswood House – a community hall and Library on Kingswood Estate in Dulwich.  We ran a small café in the House, for the users and residents of the building.  And provided delivered buffet services to Southwark council offices, and local schools.  We prided ourselves on cooking from scratch, to deliver freshly prepared food.  We had both been victims of seeing our industry de skilled by corporate contract caterers (and politicians).  We had a tag line “No more plastic food for plastic people”. 

Outside of work I kept fit swimming 3 times a week.  Hosted many dinner parties (busman’s holiday).  Also helped a friend at Charlie Magri’s pub in East London doing a Sunday roast service.  Charlie used to host sports nights to raise money for charity.  He would auction sports memorabilia and host a dinner – which we would do the food for.  Met many well known boxers – John Conte,  Alan Minter, and his son Ross, Dave Boy Green.  Met Misha Paris.  Met Suzanna Yorke. 

When it comes to good food, I will not cut corners. It is imperative to me that customers enjoy my food as much as I enjoy cooking it. I am passionate about running a good kitchen, and a good pub. I love being in the village as much as I love to cook. Come and try our menu, I can promise you, you will not be disappointed!