My husband Matt has always had a passion for cooking. He is a very intuitive person and he is driven by his emotions. The way he cooks is a beautiful way for him to express himself and he thoroughly enjoys it.
Finding ourselves both hitting the big 40 in the past few months has brought on many discussions about where we are in our lives, what we have achieved and what we hope to aspire to in future. We have decided to start running our own cookery courses, with Matt and I as the teachers, sure to be an exciting experience!
The creation of our company Big in France has been an adventure so far and we have enjoyed the challenge. When we launched this venture several years ago, we had high hopes and I’m proud to say that we have begun to realise these dreams. It is no easy feat to start your own company, trying to master the many skills that are involved along the way, but we have learnt a lot and continue to do so.
The people we have been lucky enough to meet along the way, some of whom we have worked with and some who have been our guests, have opened our eyes to so many things: new skills, cultures, cuisines, languages and beliefs. I try and learn one new thing each day, no matter how big or small, and much of this new knowledge comes from our four children who inspire me every day (and always correct my French, which is therefore improving, even if bit by bit!)
So this year, our new cookery course will be focused around cooking on wood, with a touch of elegance. You can have the drama of the open fire combined with a soft delicate touch to create something special! We are very lucky to have excellent ingredients at hand. We are absolute advocates for local seasonal produce wherever possible. We also grow a lot of our own produce and try to incorporate these fresh delights into our dishes.
With Matt’s design and build of our outdoor kitchen complete, the cookery side of our business has gone from strength to strength. It’s such a pleasure to cook using the different wood fires. A meal, however simple, is always an event and we like to get our family and friends involved!
After winter, we spend a lot of time outside, enjoying the weather and the stunning countryside, watching the dogs leaping around the garden before flopping on to the grass with a sigh of relief to lap up the warm sun.
This time of year is when we start to look forward to the warmth returning. Ideas to improve the facilities and new recipes begin to hatch!
Cooking on wood is a real skill. There is a lot of information to take in and try out for yourself to see what you like and don’t like. What types of wood to use for different flavours? What do you prefer? What works best for different produce? How to control the temperature? The methods are constantly evolving, which makes it a pleasure to be learning new techniques all the time.
There are countless different approaches to cooking; it’s all about finding your style, what flows best. They say ‘food prepared with love tastes better - taste is not just flavour but an experience of flavour, smell, touch, sight and mood’ (Willis Robbins chef).
I have seen Matt’s progression, and he has come full circle. He has always been self-driven, enjoying pushing himself and learning new skills through teaching himself. Right now, it’s fair to say he is literally ‘on fire!’