I am asking fellows in the Wedding and Events Industry, to participate in my Industry Insider blog posts. These are the questions that you won’t find answered on their websites but I hope will give you a juicier feel for who they are and why they do what they do. They are questions I have wanted to ask, and thank you Helen and Tony from Jersey Kitchen to kick it off and for taking the time to answer! Enjoy folks!
1.You actually have two businesses which came first your superb catering or the party hire?
T. CI Party Hire came first. We started off with just one bouncy castle and a bungee trampoline and ended up being the largest party hire business in the Channel Islands with over 40 castles, bucking bronco’s, karaoke machines and all manner of other party equipment. We actually sold the party hire business last year but have kept all the catering equipment that we now hire out via Jersey Kitchen
2.How did each of you get into the restaurant / catering business?
T. I was always going to be in the army but after a really nasty rugby injury had to have a re-think. Whilst travelling around the world I worked in a bar, then a restaurant and then bought the catering bug!
H. My background was working with horses, specifically polo ponies but when Tony set up his first restaurant called mama Mia’s in Cheapside I started helping out every now and again, then started working full time when we set up the Blue Fish restaurants.
3. Whats the best thing about having your own business and whats the most challenging?
T. The best thing is the challenge of being in charge of your own destiny - your success (or demise) is ultimately down to you. The most challenging is juggling work and personal time.
H. The best thing is flexible working times. As caterers we work very long hours but they tend to be mostly at weekends so we do get some quality time during the week. Most challenging? I agree with Tony - finding time for ourselves!
4.I know you love using Jersey Produce when you can. Is there anything thats grown/ reared here that you look forward to creating with more than other produce? or indeed like eating yourself?
T. So much to choose from! We use a lot of Jersey beef, local asparagus, wild garlic and strawberries but it’s the seafood that we love the best. We’ve just created a new crab and watercress starter that’s off the scale!
5.What requests from a client have excited you the most to cook for their party?
T. We are not a company that has loads and loads of menu’s. We prefer to listen to our clients, find out what floats their boat and then design a menu around their favourite foods. We’ve cooked for the great and the good but one memorable party was creating a “cockney knees up” which involved recreating a London pub inside a marquee complete with amazing pub grub as well as flying in Pearly King’s and Queens, Royal look-a-likes, magicians, entertainers and musicians. Quite a night!
H. We had a specific request for Balic salmon for a party at short notice. When we found we couldn’t get it in time they sent their jet to collect it for us!
6. What do you feel makes your business stand out over other catering businesses?
T. It has to be the quality and friendliness of all of our staff. We only employ 3 full time staff so rely on lots of part timers from all walks of life. We work hard at creating a really fun working atmosphere and the result is a real melting pot of characters. We are lucky to receive so many compliments from our clients about just how friendly everyone is!
H. We really listen to all our clients and go the extra mile as standard and always try to over deliver. Ultimately it’s our job to make people happy and that’s really exciting.
7. Are you easy people to be cooked for? ( Im just wondering if I dare invite you for dinner!)
T. Yes!! I’ve been told that some friends have been intimidated by cooking for caterers but the reality couldn’t be farther from the truth!! Put it on a plate and I’ll eat it!
H. Damn yes! The thought of not having to cook for a night is a very cosy feeling.
8.Whats your most used gadget / piece of equipment in your kitchen?
T. Without doubt is our Themomix’s. They’re absolutely amazing and no kitchen should e without one. Basically they are an all in one kitchen machine that cooks, weigh’s, chops, dices, slices, steams and that’s just for starters!
H. Ditto - thermomix
9. You are a husband and wife team. Have you each your own specifics skills in either one area or do you split out the tasks? Is one more “the boss” then the other?!
T. Helen and I are tight team, at work and at home. I tend to be more business development - meeting clients, organising, co-ordinating and setting up events, dealing with suppliers, marquee companies, musicians, photographers - even florists!! As well as working along side me at events Helen looks after staff rotes, wages and accounts.
H. Tony can’t add for toffee so that’s why I look after the office. As for who’s the boss…. You decide!
10. How do you balance your professional and home life without the two becoming one?
T. With great difficulty! We are lucky to have a boat and we do try and get out on the water at least once a week. Being on board is the time when I really do feel totally and utterly relaxed.
H. We have four children so it’s really important to make time for them. It’s not always easy but we are blessed with having four very understanding girls!
11. You also have four daughters, what essential life skills do you feel you're giving them watching you both work and live together.
T. It sounds corny but they all have developed a great work ethic, a cracking sense of humour and the confidence to set goals and go and achieve them.
H. We are so proud that our girls have such confidence and social skills at such an early age.
12.Tony, how is it being so out numbered in your family?
T. Even the dog’s a girl in our house!! I also had a full head of hair before they all came along.
13.When its just family time who cooks? and whats a family favourite?
T. We tend to split the cooking. I do the fancy stuff and Helen tends to cook the comfort food.
H. We are a family of spice & love nothing better than a good curry or chilli
14.Whats your best advice for anyone starting out in world of food and cooking.
T. Go out and work for as many different companies as you can. Take the best bits from each place and add them to your own repertoire. Then come and work for us!
15.Who in your industry do you admire and why? ( dead or alive)
H. My head chef and great friend Hector. This is the man I’ve worked with for 20 years, who has six kids, can organise a kitchen bridge to cook amazing food for hundreds of guests and not once have I heard him raise his voice - pretty impressive to me!
Quick fire Q’s:
1.Did you go to uni and if so what did you read and where?
T. Yes, Cardiff Uni _ I have a BA Hons sports degree.
H. No - I left home at 16 to work in polo
2.What would you say to your younger self in one sentence?
T. Look after your body better when you play rugby
H. Keep travelling!
3.What book (s)do you have by your bed and are you infact reading it?!
T. Reading “Unnatural Causes” by Dr. Richard Shepherd & waiting to read “The Chimp Paradox” by Prof Steve Peters
4.Who gets out of bed first in the morning?
T. We cater for all the private jets into and out of the Island so my day begins very, very, very early!
5.What are you listening to right now?
T. Channel 103
H. Ray la Montagne (on my new Bose ear phones that were a Christmas present from Tony !)
One question for me.
Clara, what’s the secret to your eternal youthful good looks?!
C: Aw Thank, you! Jersey living and doing what I love.
Links and handles people can find you on.
F.B. jersey kitchen
M. 07797 716 716