Where it all began...
I’m not a farmer, nor am I a chef, but I did spend my childhood following my Dad around the farm and cooking with my Mum in the kitchen. All I ever wanted to do was to farm but, somehow, I found myself working in banking! I realised that I loved working with people and that I was organised, I worked hard and I developed a career that took me all over Europe, sometimes the world.
I grew up as a farm labourer’s daughter and being a tom boy, followed my Dad everywhere. All I ever wanted to do as a child was work with animals, so I helped Dad as often as I could, always wanting to be useful. It was only when I got my first sheep here at Yellow Door that I realised how much he had taught me through his patience and our shared time together.
A passion for gardening
My love affair with growing food also started in my childhood, everyone in our family grew their own veg but my two Grandfathers were both passionate about their gardens.
‘Big Grandad’ grew traditional British fayre and spent hours teaching me how to sow seeds and plant out seedling using my feet and hands to make sure that they were spaced correctly. He also taught me that fresh, home grown food tastes a million times better than anything you will ever buy in a supermarket.
‘Little Grandad’ was the experimental gardener devising and developing ways to grow his native Italian veg in a Somerset climate. It was his weird and wonderful array of veg that helped spark my love of unknown and exotic food – remember things like aubergines and artichokes were largely unheard of in the everyday diet of the early 1980’s.
Then I found another love...
Being from an Italian family, my Mum always cooked and when I couldn’t be outside, I would be stood on the kitchen stool next to her being given jobs to do to help. This helped me master many of the basic skills early on and has meant that I have had lots of time to develop my techniques over the years. Travelling with my job gave me lots of inspiration (I have endless notes and pictures of things that I have eaten in the most random places!) and growing up surrounded by slightly mad Italians and Somerset farmers means that I’m not afraid to try new things.
My cooking has developed most since moving to Yellow Door as I have been challenged to think up ways to use everything we produce – I’m lucky, I have a great friend and mentor in chef Dave Watts (he came as part of the package with Stan as they went to school together and have been close friends ever since). I love cooking with Dave, arguing over the best way to do things and bouncing menu ideas around together. When he’s not working, he’s usually found raiding our veggie patch for things to serve at his new restaurant The Crown Inn