Nickname: Evil step-mum
Favourite Food: Haven’t yet found my favourite but I do love a good homemade ravioli.
Favourite Drink: Guinness and red wine – not mixed together of course!!!
Culinary Influences: Every holiday I have ever been on, both good and bad.
Favourite place to dine out: The Log House, Bansko, Bulgaria – I know it sounds a strange choice but their food is consistently excellent, their service is great, their prices amazing, and the view of the mountains never gets tired. Locally, Gangnam serves great food.
Pet hates in food establishments: Where the waiting staff walk around with their eyes down and you have to practically wave your arms in the air to get them to notice you want something.
From about the age of 13, I worked in hotel and catering, starting as potwash at a pub called “The Joiners Arms” in Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire.
From there I got a waiting position working at a hotel called “The Fernie” in Husbands Bosworth on Sundays doing about 300 covers per lunch sitting. It has since been knocked down for housing, which is a shame.
I then got a regular waiting position at a small restaurant called “Petite Manger” in Lutterworth which served high end French cuisine.
After that, I got a waiting job at another hotel in Lutterworth called “The Greyhound Coaching Inn” which had the usual hotel dining room, a bistro in the vaulted cellar, a function room, and they also opened a sister restaurant in the town.
When I moved from Leicestershire to Nottingham I got a Saturday job in an Indian restaurant whilst I was at uni, which was interesting as the other staff didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Urdu!!! But I learned that gin and tonic is the same in both languages!
When I finished uni, I got a job as the manager of an off-licence in Hucknall but got bored of working on my own for all but 4 hours a week so left there for a job as assistant manager of “Jessies” restaurant in the Hockley area of the city centre. Our head chef there was a chap called Sat Bains, who now owns his own place http://www.restaurantsatbains.com/, and also sometimes appears on Masterchef. Not that I am name dropping or anything!!
I then got a “proper” job working in a solicitors office because I had my daughter so needed to work more sociable hours, which eventually turned into me owing my own businesses doing various things related to the law. But along the way, I kept my hand in by waitressing events at a hotel called “Hellidon Lakes”, Northamptonshire, and more recently for UK Tents and Events in Bedfordshire.
When I married Paul and moved to Stevenage, it was a constant frustration that our choices of places to eat out were either multiples, or Asian food, or café style food – not that there is anything wrong with these but not really a “special night out”. So we found ourselves trekking into London to eat and wondering why there wasn’t anything like that available in Stevenage, given the availability of good quality produce locally.
It was early 2012 that we started to look for a suitable premises, and in July 2013 11 High Street came on the market, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Favourite food: so many! Maybe scallops. Or pork belly. Or duck. Or Lotus Biscuit Spread, for that matter…
Favourite drink: WINE! But also gin. And chai tea during the sunlight hours.
Culinary influences: As the daughter of an Italian Mamma, the flavours of the Mediterranean are a huge influence (think tomatoes with everything, hearty stews, strong cheese and plenty of basil) but I also love rural England, so I’m a big fan of seasonal British cuisine.
Favourite place to dine out: The best meal of my life was at a tiny trattoria outside of the centre of Florence, Italy, where my fiance and I shared the most epic Florentine steak. It was huge!
Pet hates in food establishments: A boring wine list! I love to have a glass of something I’ve never tried before (it almost always leads to a bottle…)
I’m a wine adviser and writer who has now had 9 lucky years in the drinks industry, starting out at The Wine Society and going freelance in 2013. As well as writing for publications like Harpers and The Wine Society, I am also the founding editor of drinks blog Vinspire UK, and I have a booze column in Hertfordshire Life magazine.
I was absolutely thrilled when Stacey asked me to be the drinks consultant for On The Green – how exciting that Stevenage is finally getting an independent restaurant that showcases Hertfordshire’s amazing local produce. It also just so happens to be just down the road from the flat my boyfriend and I have just bought… see you there!
Favourite Food: Sushi, Seafood and fish dishes. I also like meat dishes, the meat in England is very good quality.
Favourite Drink: Red Wine
Culinary Influences: My Mum, she taught me how to cook, my passion for cooking came from her.
Favourite place to dine out: I don’t have a favourite place to dine out but if I could eat anywhere it would be in Monaco, they have the best seafood.
Pet hates in food establishments: Bad customer service!