I love preparing, cooking and sharing food, I always have. My family joke that I could cook a three course meal by the time I was nine! Food for me is a big part of my life, it should be healthy and tasty with great flavours to warm your soul.
Growing up, meal times were a loud, boisterous affair. Being the youngest of four, there were always my siblings and their friends around, so making myself noticed by preparing simple dinners was very important. I was even paid by my brothers to prepare their lunch every day, and of course I took great care in making sure they were always impressed. Dinner was eaten together at the table in the kitchen amongst the noise and great smells. My dad was a great chef and I would often be helping prepare or simply sample and chat. Well travelled, he enjoyed cooking up a wide variety of foods, from simple delicious Sunday soups, midweek Italian pasta dishes, to enchanting banquets from all over the world for friends at the weekend. Flavour was important to him, and I learnt a lot from a cupboard full of herbs, spices, vinegars and condiments. My mum was not such an intuitive cook, so with my dad away a lot, the rest of the siblings took it in turns to cook.
Throughout my various jobs I have always cooked and baked, often being called upon by friends and colleagues to prepare delicious treats for special occasions: birthdays, parties, weddings. When I moved to Manchester I found work in a café where my boss had come from a two rosette restaurant so his standards of food were very high, he taught me a lot. We prepared, cooked and served all the food between only two of us. I learnt a lot from this experience but deep down I felt an itch to travel. I moved to Brighton to stay with family whilst I saved up money to travel. Whilst there, I worked in a café where all of the food was pre prepared in a factory, this confirmed my belief that food prepared off site in a factory, shipped in, made and sold with no love, created the charade of health and caring, whilst delivering a bland experience.
I travelled to India and Central America before heading to Australia to live with friends. With no job and rent to pay I put an ad up on Gum Tree asking if anyone needed a helping hand in the kitchen. I didn’t know what it was that I was going to help with but I knew I wanted to work with the thing I love, food. To my surprise, I got a reply and from there it snowballed. Through word of mouth I started cooking for all sorts of people, young professionals, families and personal trainers, tailoring my work to their needs. I had never thought that I could be a ‘personal chef’ as I thought that they were only for the elite, rich and famous. Through that one ad I realised that normal, everyday people wanted to eat good, healthy food and it could be affordable for them too. And so the initial idea for Taste the Love was born.
On returning from Australia, I started to research and formulate a plan for how I could take what I’d learnt and make it work as a business model. During this time, I helped to launch a new café, The Spoon Inn in Chorlton, Manchester. With limited cooking space I started to prepare soups for them and their range has expanded since, they also stock Taste the Love burgers.
The name Taste the Love came about whilst listening to Radio 4’s The Food Programme ; this particular episode was about comfort food. One of the clips was of a child saying when he ate his mum’s pasta bake after a long day at school you could just ‘taste the love’. I felt that this encapsulated exactly what it was I was trying to achieve, and so Taste the Love was born.