The Main Event: Restaurant menu development and gorgeous food for events.
Tips: Need a forkful of inspiration for your menu? Give Sally a call!
Sally and I first met at Sainsbury’s when she was a development chef in the late 1990’s. After we both relocated to Surrey we often bumped into each other at events where Sally was catering. Her food is always beautifully presented but also scores on taste because she has a knack of teasing the most out of simple high quality ingredients. She achieves this by adding seasonings such as dukkah, sumac, infused oils and freshly roasted spices, nudging her food up the scale. Her style is unique and it makes you realise how many eateries are happy to go along with ‘safe’ offerings that fail to impress. Sally proved that with tweaks here and there a menu can be transformed from simple into special. Her ability to come up with new menu items is impressive too and her background (Waitrose and Sainsbury’s) also means that she has a keen eye on profit margins. Keeping up with new food trends is essential and her knowledge of new openings, current food writers and supermarket product development helps immensely.
I got to see Sally at work first hand this week. Suke Wibaut from ‘Butter and Cream’ cakes has recently taken over Elizas’s Tea Room at Secretts in Milford. A busy lady with a shop in Milford, a long list of private orders and a market stall at North Street Guildford, Suke realised she needed a hand. Sally just happened to pop in and the result was a ‘brief’ to revamp the menu for Elizas’s. The menu, loved as it is by regulars, doesn’t reflect the area’s changing demographic and Suke also wants to cater for a younger more discerning clientele. I went to take the photographs for Sally and afterwards Suke and I had, unexpectedly, learnt so much I felt privileged to have been there.
The brief doesn’t end in Sally’s kitchen. As part of the service she offers to go and work with restaurant teams in-house. This helps them to feel confident in delivering their new dishes consistently. There is nothing worse than eating a delicious meal that isn’t the same next time around.
Sally also gets involved with lots of different event work in Surrey and a few months ago I met her at a fundraiser where she donated her skills to Disability Challengers. This pop-up dinner and auction successfully raised over £16,000 for the charity. Many of the events catered for are weddings but Sally also does corporate work such as a launch for the new vintage sparkling rose wine at Greyfriars Vineyard here in Surrey.
In our work we go to many restaurants and cafes that seem happy to offer the same food as elsewhere. Given that many of the residents of Surrey have either moved from London or work there, it would be really good to see more of the Capital’s creative cuisine filter into this area. We love local food especially if it is creatively cooked and well presented with original dressings on salads plus innovative use of herbs and seasonings. The new menu at Eliza’s incorporates all those elements and I am looking forward to the launch.
If you know of a menu out there that needs a hoist into this decade, Sally’s contact details are listed below.