It all started one evening in the bath. I was up the duff and reading The Naked Chef with a belly full of food love. Remember when Jamie was fascinating and opened us all up to a new way of looking at food? And I thought, “Imagine if I could cook and go to parties and make people happy with food. No one is unhappy when you offer them food and love”. How excellent!
And in that moment, I was tingling with imagination – it felt like sorcery and I had cracked the private code. This is what I want to do. I was 24 years old.
Before this, I had dabbled with cooking – creating enormous kitchen messes that tortured my poor mum, exploiting the free food in Home Ec and preparing an endless supply of fussy toddler food. I didn’t think I was a good cook, let alone a great one. I had never worked in hospitality or catering or anything other than a grey office building.
So this feeling came as quite the surprise – like falling in love. Heady, romantic and filled with possibility. I was intoxicated by the colour and smell of markets. I daydreamed about curries and sorbets and roasted vegetables. And I couldn’t wait to get home to undress the pomegranate.
My mates started asking me to cook for them. I planned and hosted parties to practice my skills. I began work in a winery as their weekend lunch cook. I discovered I was really good at feeding loads of dudes at once, and I wanted to do it so badly that it became the rhythm of my life. By the time I was 27, Fat and Skinny Catering was born. I felt such pride and achievement. So humbled and pleased by the reaction of those who enjoyed what I cooked.
I overcame my lack of experience by being elbows deep in food and ‘solutionizing’. The result
is that I am always looking for better, tastier and faster ways of doing things. And I do that with my mates by my side, cheering on most of my enthusiastic ideas. All of my team are my friends. They are invested emotionally in the success of Fat and Skinny and that is reflected in the care we give each other and the people we cater for.
And now, the baby that was within me is a strapping teenager (and is still my harshest critic), and I look after a business that feeds hundreds of people every week. Beautiful, hearty and incredibly tasty food catering for people when they are a bit overwhelmed. I take care of the host or the bride (or mum or grandma) so they are confident the people are being well fed. It is a far more intimate job than I imagined. In being surrounded by so much happiness, I am happy. It is infectious – the joy and the love, the hope for the future, the dancing, the laughing. It is just so lovely to be around.
So, that was the very beginning, the embryo of an idea that has entwined itself so tightly that there is no line to define between who I am and what I do. At 39, I have been catering for 12 years and I can’t express how grateful I am, to have found and fallen for the sheer pleasure of feeding people all those years ago.