Starting Up with Kathy Slack @ Gluts and Gluttony
I am not a natural risk taker. I don’t like change. I haven’t got an entrepreneurial bone in my body. But I am a glutton. And greed (the food variety not the financial) has led me well out of my comfort zone and into the world of start-ups.
Indeed, I have gluttony to blame for quitting my London job, retreating to the Cotswolds countryside, retraining as a cook, going self-employed and starting up a food business in West Oxfordshire.
The company is Gluts & Gluttony and we are private chefs who grow our own food and cook it in your kitchen. Our motto is “Grow it. Cook it. Eat it”.
We cater for all sorts of special meals all over Oxfordshire from family birthday dinners to corporate canapé parties for anywhere between four and 80 guests.
We create menus based on our client’s brief and on what we’ve got growing in our G&G kitchen garden, between Witney and Charlbury. The Oxfordshire countryside with it’s perfect growing climate, wonderful farmers and terrific producers, inspires us with constantly changing, seasonal menu ideas resulting in a totally bespoke dining experience every time.
No two meals are ever the same – which is why we love it. We also teach, offering private cookery classes in the comfort of your own home.
I say we, because my first lesson in starting up was “get a business partner”. Someone smart and nice and with all the skills you don’t have – a good financial brain, exceptional networking skills and a fearless appetite for new business. Thankfully, my friend Mandy didn’t think I was loopy when I texted her out of the blue with a vague proposal and the rest is, as they say, history.
My second lesson was this – do what you love and success will follow.
We formed G&G for entirely selfish reasons – we wanted to cook more. And eat more too, if we’re being honest. It was born out of a passion for growing food, knowing the provenance of what we were cooking and enjoying sharing that experience with anyone who would let us into their home. And this approach seems to be working so far.
We’ve steadily grown the business over the past 18 months and we still always ask ourselves when we get a new brief: “Will we enjoy this?” Not because we’re arrogant or workshy but we need to be passionate about doing it.
Running you own food business is enormously creative. If we’re not finding inspiration for new menu ideas, then we’re plotting some new project.
Our latest project, for example, is supper clubs. Our first was in November and our latest was just the other week in the hay barn of the stunning Turley Farm near Witney. It’s where we grow our vegetables so is close to our heart.
We hosted a farmhouse feast for 30 guests with wines to match and used ingredients grown in the garden, on the farm and from local producers. We talked about the food and wine, how we grew it, how it was cooked, plus we discussed the wine tasting notes.
We love that it’s more than just a meal – whether it was learning about making butter at home or understanding the difference between sweet and fortified wines, everyone left a little bit cleverer as well as full.
On the menu were all the delights of spring that you would expect to find on a farm. Potted rabbit, pork belly, braised lettuce, rhubarb (with custard, naturally). In true farmhouse tradition we will made everything from scratch – bacon, bread, butter…the works. It was delicious Cotswolds fare beautifully presented – no tuilles, foams or frippery needed.
Our supper clubs work like a restaurant, except you don’t have to choose what you eat. You just book your seat and rock up.
This time we sat guests at two long banquet tables so, whilst you’re sitting with your party, people can also chat to fellow guests.
It was our first supper at Turley Farm barn and it looked absolutely fantastic – wild flowers, wood fire, cows and sheep wandering past the windows. We’ll definitely be back.
Our next supper club will be on August 22 at The Cotswolds Distillery in Shipton-on-Stour. We’ll be using house gin, whisky and liquors in our recipes, and the chief distillers will be pairing cocktails with each course.
Definitely one to book a taxi home for!