How Thyme 2 Eat Hopes to Thrive in the World of Catering
During the summer lockdown last year, friends Katie and Annabel used their time at home as an opportunity to create a business doing something they both enjoy
Tell us a bit about your background.
We attended Longridge Towers School together for five years, before going our separate ways prior to our GCSEs. Katie went to Durham School and Annabel to Sedbergh School. Katie finished school and went on to complete the Orchards Cookery Course in the Cotswolds, while Annabel finished school and then went on to complete the Food of Course Cookery School in Somerset. We both travelled during our gap years - Katie to Australia and Annabel to New Zealand.
Our venture began with selling tray bakes on Holy Island outside of Katie’s grandmas door. Our first day was a success and soon after we decided to step up our game. Corinne Joicey (Owner of Wild Plum Escapes) is a great family friend and she offered for us to put some menus in her holiday cottages around North Northumberland. This was the start of Thyme 2 Eat as we saw an immediate interest in orders. We started off with a basic frozen food menu and have now had experience catering small weddings, birthday parties, photography shoots, and birthday cakes – we can’t wait to see where this journey takes us next.
When and how did you get into catering?
Both of our mums are keen cooks so we have both grown up surrounded by home-made cooking and a love for good, fresh food. Having left school, we were both enthusiastic to do a cookery course, with the intentions of using these skills to cater for local shooting and fishing parties. With Covid-19 turning our plans upside down, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to start our venture into catering.
What can people expect from Thyme 2 Eat?
Delicious home-made food cooked by two young, enthusiastic and capable girls with the aim of giving back to the community and providing for holidaymakers. Our aim is to make the lives of people visiting the area more relaxing by taking the stress out of cooking. We also offer high quality, locally-sourced food to cater for bespoke events and field sports.
Why did you want to create food for holidaymakers?
With local restrictions not allowing dining out, we saw an opportunity to provide the same level of service but instead delivered straight to your door. As we’re so rural, there’s no option for Meals on Wheels or other delivery services like Deliveroo or Uber Eats. So we took it upon ourselves to provide this service. Due to Covid-19, we noticed an increase in staycation visitors, so we started out by catering specifically for holidaymakers. We knew this was a great place to start as many holiday cottages had seen an influx of bookings all the way through to November. We wanted to make these visitors lives easier and more relaxing with our offering.
What makes your produce different to anything else in the market at the moment?
We source all of our ingredients locally as much as possible. During these testing times, it is so important that small and local business support each other rather than buying their produce from big supermarket chains. We even try to grow as much of our fruit and vegetables as we can – we grow our own tomatoes, courgette, onions, potatoes, apples, raspberries, basil, and mint – just to name a few.
You’ve now expanded to catering for events – how have you found that and how challenging has business been during the changing times this year?
When we first started up, we were doubted by a few people due to the uncertain times. We believe establishing a business in this time has worked in our favour as it gives us a chance to really find our feet and puts us in great stead for when the busy season returns in the foreseeable future. We really enjoy catering for events, we found it challenging to begin with as it was new ground for both of us. That is part of the reason we love doing it together – we face the tough situations together and enjoy the rewarding feeling of providing for people. Covid-19 has definitely played a huge part in our business. Staycations wouldn’t have been as popular, therefore we probably wouldn’t have ventured into cooking for holidaymakers. We try to see everything in a positive light during these unpredictable times.
How have you been supporting key workers this year and why is that important to you?
We regularly donate cakes and traybakes to our local NHS in Berwick and supporters at Beal Garage. This is just a small token of our appreciation for the key workers in the area and we wanted to support businesses that have continued to operate throughout the pandemic.
We continue to expand in this field and have been in touch with local schools offering to provide our service to be able to supple free school meals. We would love to get involved in this debate in any way we can, while continuing to support the incredible work of the NHS.
How have you found launching a business in the North East?
There are so many different routes we could have taken, at first we found it difficult to focus on just one as we wanted to do everything and anything. Everyone is very supportive of each other, there is so much demand for this type of industry – from holidaymakers to shoot parties, Northumberland has it all.
What’s your favourite thing in the North East?
The scenery – you can go from the Cheviots to wide open beaches within the space of 30 minutes. This provides us with so many options for outdoor catering events. There are so many nice towns dotted about, and an array of incredible local businesses which help support each other. It really is such a happy and supportive community that we are so proud to be a part of.
What do you get up to in your spare time?
We both really enjoy the outdoors, especially the beach. We spent a lot of time there when lockdown began to lift in the summer – it was an escape from all the negativity in the world. We enjoy travelling and exploring new places (this hasn’t been quite so easy with lockdown). We like to try eating out in new places and gaining inspiration for our own food. We both enjoy riding, spending time with friends and socialising. This was part of the reason we wanted to venture into this industry – we both love a party, particularly when we are behind the planning and the hosting, so it only seemed natural that we would progress in this area.
Where do you enjoy going for a meal and which chefs inspire you?
Our local favourites are Carnaby’s, Atelier, and The Black Bull in Lowick. Further afield, we both love Tart London, which leads us onto chefs who inspire us. Lucy Carr-Ellison (from Northumberland) and Jemima Jones have been a real inspiration for us as they have achieved a great success, resulting in their own restaurant in London. This fuels our ambitions.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Since we never seem to stop, we find ourselves living off boiled eggs. We will be in the kitchen and one of us will just randomly say ‘egg?' and that will keep us going. Pasta is an all-time favourite in our kitchen and we hope to experiment with making our own. We also love curries and these are definitely a family favourite in both households. We both visited Italy last summer and fell in love with the food there. Annabel’s absolute favourite dish though is our chicken and lentil curry, while Katie is partial to our beef, chorizo and roasted red pepper chilli. When you work with so many incredible dishes everyday it’s hard to pick just one!
What are your hopes for the future of Thyme 2 Eat?
With the hope that things return to normal soon, we would love to cater for 21st parties, corporate events, field sports and anything in between, while continuing to provide for holidaymakers throughout. We want to ensure that Thyme 2 Eat emphasizes local produce and really gives something back to the local community.