Updated: Sep 11
It all started in 2010 when I left my job of 20 years working in a country butchers nr Redhill. This is where I started my pie making career although I have been in the catering industry since leaving school.
My husband visited Tablehurst on my behalf to see if they had a position available for an experienced pie maker. The shop manager at the time was called Raphael and he could not believe his ears as he had in fact been trying to find the butchers shop I had been working at on recommendations from Tablehurst customers!!
So after both formal and informal interviews I was hired on 23rd February 2010 and the rest as they say is history!
I started working in the shop for a month to see how it operated and to meet the customers. This was standard procedure then with anyone new to the farm to help integrate them to all of the community.
I then started setting up what became The Pie Shop. This was the original Tablehurst Shop where all the butchery was done (yes in that tiny space) and a few dried goods were sold. The new shop was then built and so that area then became empty. This is the space that you now know as Cafe prep room and Tracey's office!!
I travelled up to Manchester to acquire a manual pastry roller which I still use to this day.
So the Pie Shop was born and I started making and selling pies to the public using old and new recipes. In the first week I took £750 not too shabby from a standing start!!
Things Progressed well and it was decided we should enter the Soil Association Organic Food Awards. So in the Prepared Food Category we entered the Steak & Kidney pie which used beef, beef kidney and lard from the pigs to make the short crust pastry. Which I still do for all the pies with short crust pastry. To everyone's surprise we won!!!
At an award ceremony in Bristol we met the lovely Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who presented the award. Tablehurst has won several awards over the years for various categories such as Food Prducer of the Year Best Farm shop and Best Butchers.
The next year we entered the Pork Pie using our fabulous pork. The hot water crust pastry for this pie is made with the pok fat(fleed) and beef suet. The gel inside the pie is made from chicken wings and pork trotters. So the pie was definitely a true Tablehurst product!! Not so lucky this time at the awards.
We were awarded "Highly Commended" Still not a bad effort!!
The Pie Kitchen made up for that this year with the BBC Food and Farming Awards. Tablehurst Farm was anonymously nominated to the awards in early 2022. Tablehurst Pies were sent to the judges at the first tasting with the BBC. The judges on the day, including the Michelin star chef Michael Caines visited the Tablehurst pie kitchen and interviewed me for 30 mins and I was also featured on the radio 4 Food Programme along with farmers butchers gardeners. The pies contributed to Tablehurst being awarded as the Best Producer 2022.
Going back to our origins in November 2011 it was decided to convert an old barn which used to be the hen house for laying hens if I remember correctly. So it was prepped and tiled and equipment moved down to the now known as food processing room (Pie Kitchen).
Which left the Pie Shop empty to be turned into a small cafe as had been on Tablehursts wish list for many years. New products were added to the Pie Kitchen I.e. ready meals, faggotts, quiches, frittatas, fruit pies. A lot of these went for sale in the new cafe.
Andrew from our care home on the farm has been a constant in helping me with veg prep and making the sausage rolls. I could not have achieved any of this without his help over the years for which I am eternally grateful.
I have over the years had intermittent help coming and going which has proved difficult to be consistent with amounts produced. However we are very lucky to have gained an experienced cook to our team namely Vannessa whom I'm sure many of you have seen sporting our familiar blue check chefs apron!!
We are already making new products( and some revisited popular old ones). I hope you will welcome Vanessa warmly when you see her. She is proving to be a brilliant asset to the Pie Kitchen and I hope she will be with us a long time!!
Adele. Pie Kitchen Manager