A Festive Pop-Up Tearoom at Brockley Art House

My name is Catherine Clark and I am a freelance chef from Guildford, Surrey. Over the last few months I have been hosting a pop-up Attic Tea Room in the Sunday Art Salons at Brockley Art House created by David Bottomley.

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I love being a part of this enterprising venture “Art in the Attic,” meeting the customers and exhibiting artists and getting to know the community. I support David`s enterprise in bringing art to the local community and hope by providing tea and cakes the whole visit becomes more of a special occasion. I make a selection of delicious old time favourite cakes to include coffee & walnut, lemon drizzle, carrot cake with lime frosting, flapjack, chocolate brownies and scones with clotted cream and homemade jam. I also cater for gluten and dairy free.

But this Christmas I will be making and selling Victoria sponge, teas, mince pies and mulled cider.

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Why did I become a chef? – I love food! I am passionate about the way good food brings people together – this is my aim.

What do I offer? Intimate dinner parties to wedding catering, canapé parties, buffets, vintage afternoon tea to hog roasts.

Brief history: Cordon Bleu Chef trained at Tante Marie, I worked at Buckingham Palace, managed restaurants with up to 22 staff, been a personal chef for HRH Prince Ali Bin Hussein`s Palace, Jordan. I have cooked for Muse & Radio Head while on tour and worked in Michelin Star restaurants. I have worked alongside Heston, Gino d’Acampo, Antony Worrall Thompson and Tom Kitchen in Edinburgh. I have also been on the Radio sharing my knowledge.

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It’s not all been easy and glamorous. Getting from A-B has been tough. Once I graduated from Tante Marie in 2011 I worked in lots of different food establishments and kitchens to gain experience. Professional kitchens are often all-male environments and so, because I was a woman, I found I often wasn’t taken seriously and was subjected to petty bullying which was described by the men as harmless pranks.

On average I would work a 12 hr day environment starting out as a commis chef until I was broken. In hot and frantic kitchens peeling sacks of potatoes and chopping onions until I couldn’t see through the tears, blisters on my hands and so pumped up on caffeine and energy drinks I had regular heart palpitations. I am 5 foot 11 inches and suffer from back ache. Most of the work surfaces in the kitchens I worked in were quite low, so I would work on upside down crates so I didn’t have to bend down so low. I would find myself in the larder when all the chefs went out for a fag break bent in two trying to touch my toes to try and relieve some of the pain. Not being a smoker I missed out on all the “gossip” and important chat regarding service or the new menus. I even considered taking up smoking to be more accepted and feel a part of the team! I found myself chopping and changing jobs quite a lot feeling like I would never be accepted because I was a woman and would never really “fit in”.

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I worked my way up in the kitchen and after a bad experience working in a 2 rosette restaurant decided this was no longer the life for me. So I left and worked in the Alps for 2 years back to back, first as a chalet host/chef and then as a private chef, which was more exciting, as I was in charge of the bookings, transfers, ski hire and cooking etc… It was hard work but very rewarding and it taught me a lot of managerial skills. From there I started working for events companies like Rhubarb, Off to Work and Evolve. I loved this kind of cheffing. For a start there were more women than men in the

FOH team and in the kitchen and the events were often quite high profile so it was exciting. All the food was beautifully presented and looked scrummy.

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However, finally I decided to take the plunge and work for myself. Welcome to Kitchen Sink Catering, private chef and events catering services in London, Surrey and Sussex. From intimate dinner parties to wedding catering, canapé parties, buffets, vintage afternoon tea & hog roasts, we can provide delicious food for all your celebrations!

I hope you will come and sample some mince pies, home baking and mulled cider at the Open Mixed Show at Brockley Art House on Sunday 4th December 12-6pm.

It’s such an exciting project with an ever-changing gallery of art and artists, with something for everyone, well-worth local support and I am so happy to be part of it. Good art, good cake, mulled cider– what could be better for a winter’s cold weekend?


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