My West London Life

Caroline Hall

April
6

Caroline Hall, co-founder of London's leading luxury catering company Rocket Food, on the 'endless' creativity of food, working with her brother, recreating the Titanic's first class menus for a party, and the perfect family feast

What do you look for in food?

Fabulous ingredients (seasonal and local when possible), well balanced flavours and not over-worked.

How did you start Rocket Food, and how did it develop? Did you have to make any tough decisions?

We registered Rocket whilst on a family holiday in France watching the Sydney Olympics in 2000. We started off in our flat, and after three months we moved into a unit we shared with a food production company who worked at night.

The recession made us think pretty hard, but since we were much smaller we were able to adapt to the market needs and be more flexible with clients’ expectations; looking back it actually it made us stronger.

What excites you most about your work?

The diversity of what we do and the endless ideas you can create with food. I like the spontaneity of the events business: you never know what’s around the corner until the telephone rings.

Do you taste all the menus you offer and give input on them yourself?

We regularly sit with the chefs and menu brainstorm. Once a year, I also go on a culture trip with Rachel, the head of creative, to Paris to source out the latest presentation trends. We do an incredible amount of research through suppliers, ingredients, tastings at restaurants, finding new techniques and reading books.

The development stage includes writing and re-writing menus with our chef Tom. We then taste, taste and taste again, going through a rigorous tasting process to get flavours and the presentation on point. We then present the menu to the sales team, and then back into the kitchen for training!

Where did the name Rocket Food come from?

I took inspiration from my previous job working for Formula 1, where I cooked for Scuderia Ferrari and their sponsors—we wanted something with speed, simplicity and food. Rocket Food was born!

What are the principles your business is founded on; what is most important to you?

Excellence in every area and extreme attention to detail. Everyone who works at Rocket brings something different to the business. We have a fantastic team of event managers who offer creativity and experience, and we take time in training front line staff to offer charming service to our clients.

What have been your proudest moments with Rocket Food?

Goodness, there are so many… We love the challenge of each event! But some of the most exhilarating highlights have been the first Summer Exhibition party at the Royal Academy, the premiere of the film Around The World in 80 Days, The Red Bull World Championship summer party and a spectacular overseas three-day wedding! We even had a crazy Titanic party, where we recreated the first class menus.

What and who inspires you?

Elisabeth David, Michele Geard, and my parents, who instilled their passion for food into Michael and me from a young age by planning regular gastronomic pilgrimages around France.

You work alongside your brother Michael—is it easy working with a sibling?

Working with Michael is great, we complement each other. We have a fantastic synergy and we both have our distinct areas of expertise and what brings us together is our inherent passion for food.

What would your ideal day out in west London involve?

A trip with my two boys (aged 6 and 7) to the Natural History museum and then a long lunch at the River Café.

What else do you enjoy?

I really enjoy going to the horse races, gardening, cooking up a feast and entertaining friends and family at my country home.

What most excites you about food?

The diversity, the flavours, textures and beautiful presentation.

If you had to pick a last meal, what would it be?

A family feast! I would opt for a Mediterranean style cuisine full of colours and flavours: Parma ham and melon, whipped broad beans, vegetables from the garden, focaccia with herbs, langoustine and aioli, whole roast seabass, cote de boeuf, olive oil roasted potatoes and bitter Italian greens. I love cooking with a lot of flavours: garlic, herbs, spices.

What’s on the plate for Rocket Food in 2018 and onwards?

Ahhhh… watch this space, there are exciting things afoot!

www.rocketfood.com

Catherine Salway and Andrea Waters

May
2

Catherine Salway and Andrea Waters, founders of all-vegan and alcohol-free Redemption Bar - which has just crowdfunded over £300k for further expansion - talk ethical business, female leadership, and the wonder of urban green spaces like Hyde Park

What was the inspiration behind the launch of Redemption Bar?

It’s brilliant that so many people are choosing to lead healthier lifestyles, not just for themselves but for the planet. The younger generation are becoming more conscious, turning away from alcohol and consuming fewer animal products.… Read more →

Laure Patry

April
18

Laure Patry, group head sommelier of Jason Atherton's The Social Company, on falling in love with wine, taking guests on a tasting journey, getting hold of in-demand vintages, and Loire Valley chenin blanc

You have worked in the wine industry from a young age; did you always know you wanted to work as a sommelier?

I always knew I wanted to work in a restaurant from a young age as I really enjoyed the service side of the work, and the interaction with the guests. The opportunity to learn about wine came when I finished… Read more →