Our Company History
Handmade in Hundon was established in 2001 and rebranded as Catering for Suffolk in June 2015
Sarah and William Barthorpe spent 15 years in the advertising industry eating in many of the finest restaurants in London and the Home Counties. Realising this was not where their passion laid (the advertising bit) they left to travel the world on an extensive culinary sabbatical to extend their knowledge of foods and ingredients from around the world that were increasingly appearing on good restaurant menus. Spending 4 months in India and Nepal, gave them a fantastic insight into real Indian food. Moving on to Thailand they attended the Wandee School of cookery in Bangkok for an intensive two week royal Thai cuisine course and then lived on the islands for four months, shopping in local markets, experimenting and developing what they had been taught. Travelling on through the Far East and eventually to Sydney, they worked in Australian restaurants whilst sampling some of the best in fusion food.
They returned in 1996 and both trained at the Butlars wharf chef school (Conran) in London, intending to open a European/ Fusion restaurant, getting to survey stage on several properties before a growing young family put that idea on the back burner. Still wanting to use their skills and experience they set up an innovative meal kit company selling kits containing all the fresh ingredients needed to make fantastic authentic Thai curries. Interest from an up market supermarket needed substantial investment and without a long-term guarantee of orders the risk was deemed too much. Reluctantly the Thai meal kit business was closed and shortly afterwards the the catering company started to emerge when their solicitor convinced them to cater for his wedding.
Since then they have diversified into all aspects of catering and as yet have still managed to avoid the dreaded Bain Marie buffets. Over the last five years they have developed a range of middle eastern recipes taking influence from amongst others Claudia Roden and Yotam Ottolenghi and Restaurant Moro having been amazed at the flavours in properly smoked food and are always looking for the next challenge to stretch their skills to your wants. The pictures below by Alison Mckenny .
What Inspired Us
We both grew up with food loving parents, who cooked from scratch, used butter, used fresh seasonal produce, ate good meat and rarely gave us convenience food. We have continued that principle with our children, while trying to eat less meat and more vegetables.
I spent a short time in the food industry dealing with a large food supplier to the supermarkets and soon came to realise that everything was price driven. If a cheaper ingredient could be substituted it would be, right up to the law on human nutrition. We all know that processed sugar and its substitutes are not that good for you, and the same can be said for processed fats, yet the food industry has been very slow to start removing them from processed foods. We are not vegetarians but understand the need to eat less but better quality meat, with higher welfare standards (British) and eat more vegetarian foods. It is no coincidence that a supermarket family lasagne cost less to buy, than it does to make at home with quality ingredients.
We translate this ethos into our business. There are lots of ingredients that we will not use. A proper stock takes hours to make, chill and store, it takes no time to add a stock cube or bouillon to boiling water, the later contains few of the nutrients and health benefits of the former and often contains far too much salt: an easy flavour enhancer. We know that sometimes at home when in a hurry it needs to be done but we do not provide that for our clients.
We read books and articles by the great chefs and cooks, there’re not necessarily the really successful chefs who let their names be used to brand processed foods, but writers and cooks who know it takes time to produce great food: Yotam Ottolenghi, Nigel Salter, Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Hemsley and Hemsley, The Hang Fire sisters and of course all of the middle eastern influences that have been the back bone of our catering over the last seven years, Yotam, Claudia Roden, Sabrina Ghayour etc etc.
Further back in time we started eating in restaurants run by Nico Ladenis, Rowley leigh, Raymond Blanc and many Conran owned restaurants in the late 80,s when I was fortunate enough to have a generous expense account that allowed me to eat in the finest restaurants in the country. When we returned from our culinary travels in Asia and studied at the Conran butlers wharf chef school I learnt some of the techniques and recipes that were the mainstay of good modern European restaurant cooking while Sarah learnt the front of house skills that until then only the French seemed to care about.
We try to visit new restaurants in our constant strive to keep up with new ideas, but the wheel does not need reinventing and although I admire the food of Chefs like Heston Blumenthal I never want to be an “art on a plate chef”
Twenty years ago it was difficult to get great food unless you spent a lot of money at a good restaurant, now with a revived interest in good quality food there are great places to eat local fresh food all over the country, that do not necessarily break the bank.
We only cater for one wedding a week you always get us, William and Sarah and not front of house or chefs you have never met. We work with a team of around 25 part time staff many of whom, have been with us of years, some are returning university students and some are youngsters who have shown a passion for food or front of house. If you are passionate about food, talk to us about what you want for your wedding catering, parties and informal occasions, where the food is as important as the atmosphere you want to create.