What's that? You didn't know that the Cafe Cat was into cooking, too?
Well, yes it's true. I love nothing more than to feed my hungry disciples so when Emily from My Deliciously Healthy Kitchen suggested that I attend her 'Guilt-Free Baking' course, I could hardly refuse especially since I'M ALL ABOUT THE GUILT. Butter and sugar are my fondest treats but it's always a good idea to broaden one's horizons, is it not?
My trusty pal Victoria and I bundled ourselves into the car and sailed over to Wingham where the event would be taking place at 'Witherden's Hall'- a gorgeous country retreat, tucked away from it all and what a treat it was!
We were especially impressed with the high level of quality and finish to the space. Look at these gorgeous doors from Jali Home Design and delightful spread that Emily had put on for us all to enjoy.
Everything was put together so beautifully, even our information packs were coordinated with the aprons.
Emily is one serious cat and so let's make an introduction so you can get to know a little more.
Please meet Emily from My Deliciously Healthy Kitchen.
Where are you from?
Its a long story! I was born and raised in Kent on the Isle of Sheppey, I left as soon as I could and 10 years ago I went backpacking around the world for a year with my now husband and then came back & lived in Maidstone for a few years before my husband and I decided to throw in the towel again!
We both hated our jobs. I was a hairdresser for 16 years and managing a very busy and successful salon but had had enough. So two years ago we left and spent a winter in the French Alps in the ski resort of Val d'isere, which was fun and then spent the summer travelling top to toe in Italy. We flew into Milan and trained, bused and sailed all the way to Sicily! It was amazing, I love Italy.
We then came back to the UK and spent a year living in north Cornwall where I managed a fantastic deli. Whilst travelling and taking time out, I had decided that I wanted to work with my all-time passion: food. The travels and time away gave me a new perspective on what I wanted and where we wanted to live. So we decided to come back to Kent as that's where our lifelong friends and family were. I had worked in Canterbury previously and both my husband and I had spent time as students here. We both loved the cosmopolitan vibe, the cafe culture and proximity to the coast and so decided that if we were going to move back to Kent we had to live in Canterbury. We have been back 6 months and love living here!
Why did you decide to open the business?
I love food, I love cooking and I enjoy meeting new people. In my previous work life the things I enjoyed the most were teaching, providing a professional service, making people happy and interacting with like minded people. So the obvious thing for me to do was start cookery lessons, mixing my passion with the aspects of my previous job that I knew I was good at and enjoyed.
I have also been a lifelong "dieter" and was sick of being given mixed advice, being taught bad habits and eating the wrong things. I am a self-taught cook that through my own research and personal experiences has realised that "diets" do not work and that you just need to eat REAL natural food. I feel that there must be a million more people out there confused by what we are bombarded with from the supermarkets to the press, I want to show and help people get back to eating real, natural, wholesome foods; clean food!
What makes you different/special?
I think there's a lot of pressure to produce restaurant quality food at home and the reality is we do not have the time or budget to do this on a daily basis. I teach simple, easy and quick recipes that can be part of everyday life that the whole family will enjoy, not just food for dinner parties and special occasions which is what is normally on offer. I want to teach people that they can actually incorporate these recipes into their working week with minimal effort. My classes are small, informal, relaxed and not intimidating to novice cooks but at the same time informative for accomplished cooks. I like to think of my classes as a bunch of friends all cooking together in a domestic kitchen, not a commercial kitchen, I want people to identify with their own kitchens.
I only use wholegrain and superfood and everything is sugar-free and natural in my classes, so the food not only tastes great but will be good for you and make you look and feel great!
What's your favourite thing to do in Canterbury?
I love to go for 'real' coffee in Browns and Willows. I love breakfast/brunch/lunch in The Refectory Kitchen, The Veg Box Cafe or La Trappiste and I never say no to a cocktail in the Abode Hotel cocktail bar. Oh I can usually be found swooning over new arrivals in Zara!
Thanks Emily! We all had a great time getting to know each other and learning all the different alternatives out there to that nasty (albeit delicious) sugar.
During the course we made carrot and blood orange cake, lemon/coconut polenta cake, chocolate brownies and peanut butter/chocolate blondies. All were seriously scrumptious and easy to prepare. I took them to work with me after and the boys wolfed them down in next to no time. Greedy boys!
(Irrelevant picture of a blood orange that we used. I have a thing for blood oranges, ok?)
Meeting Emily and completing the course was such a pleasure and her business is a wonderful, independent little concept just starting to find its feet. With big plans for the future, Emily is certainly a face to look out for in Kent. You can follow Emily over on Twitter or through the links peppered throughout this article and in my sponsors.
For pictures of the food we made, please go see Emily's lovely blog article but be warned- it will certainly make your mouth water!
(Peanut butter blondie mix)