I started pursuing a career in cooking quite soon after school, and realised I loved making things that people really enjoyed eating. I worked for a few other catering companies and cooked plenty of lunches in directors dining rooms, worked on a yacht in Antigua, cooked in Spain for a private family, worked with a small team catering for a fabulous classical music festival in France and felt that with sufficient experience I really felt like it was time to step out on my own.
My mother and I came up with the name, she was born and brought up in India and they used to call champagne ‘Simpkin’. I’ve always loved the name and word ‘rose’ so we pairs them together to make ‘Simpkin and Roses’. I then set about building a reputation among private clients.
My boyfriend started lending a hand with the paperwork, and within a couple of years we were married and both running the business full time. Since then we have attracted some wonderful clients and regularly and regularly run events for 500-1000 guests. We still do dinner parties in private houses for 10 guests; we take huge pride in the quality of the food, and that is really the foundation of the whole business.
How has COVID-19 affected you and how are you innovating?
We had a healthy diary of events booked which all evaporated overnight. This is normally a very busy time of year so this was a huge loss of business. Within a week, though, we went from staring into the abyss to starting up something new. We always had a vague plan to one day bring a product to market that wasn’t part of the events catering business, but never got around to it. Suddenly we had all the time we needed (actually half the time since the children were sent back from school), and realised that a lot of people were really struggling to get hold of food. Also, with children back at home, household meal requirements were high. We very quickly started making and freezing dishes that we thought would be enjoyed, and already have customers all over London and further afield. We are also offering grocery boxes with weekly essentials. So although we are effectively starting a new business from scratch, we have reasons to be positive about it all and are seeing the whole thing as an opportunity. We know things are going to be difficult when things start to return to normal in terms of the economy, so we are doing what we can to guarantee continued employment of our staff. We are definitely one of the more fortunate businesses out there in that we make something that people really need. When the whole thing blows over we will definitely pursue this new venture, so there is definitely something to look forward to.
What foods do you think people are drawn to in times like these?
I am obsessed with making bone broth and soups! I really wanted to make some soup stuffed full of golden goodness which I truly believe to be full of health benefits. I make chicken stock with organic chicken bones and then turn it into an immune boosting soup with ginger, carrots, sweet potatoes and oranges. It is so delicious and has been one of our most popular items. We have kept most of the other soups vegan and vegetarian as that is a popular requirement too but we have also noticed that a seriously good chicken pie has been selling out before we have had time to make more!
We had a lot of Guinness leftover from a St Patrick’s day event which was cancelled so we have turned that into a slow cooked shin of beef with Guinness and Portobello mushrooms and that has proved very popular too. The children’s food too has been very popular, having children myself I know how time consuming it can be preparing fresh food for them and lots of the time having them claim not to like it! Very frustrating. So the dishes we are cooking have all passed the taste test with mine and have the benefit of having no additives or preservatives in them. We simple use the wonderfully natural method of freezing things to preserve them.
How do you like to bring more healthy ingredients into daily cooking?
I've mentioned my bone broth obsession and at home I always try to have some in little bags or pots in the freezer. I am always adding it to things I make for the children and for us. I also am constantly using fresh vegetables and popping them into anything I can get away with for the children. They thankfully love nuts and dried fruit so flapjacks get sweetened with soaked dates reducing the need for refined sugar. I'm always steaming carrots and blending them into things. We have cleverly hidden at least one portion of veg into each of our frozen children’s meals which I know will be popular with parents. I am a firm believer too in giving children actual vegetables too, even just to try and dislike. I'm always telling them that their tastes are changing and if they didn’t like it last time they may find they do this time (my attempts are mainly in vain). A boiled or steamed piece of broccoli or carrot can be quite boring but with some garlic butter on or even just some butter and a squeeze of lemon it can change their opinion dramatically.
We love your @mylittleweaner page, and the premis of cooking nutritious and interesting food for children, including the tweaks and spice added for the grown ups to enjoy the same dishes that evening (with a glass of wine!). How do you use food and cookery to entertain your children, and to stop it feeling like a chore?
Cooking with children is a bit of a pain in the arse as they usually muck it all up, dropping eggs and spilling things everywhere. I occasionally get some use out of them with podding peas or peeling a carrot but otherwise I advise weighing everything out in advance and just let them pour things in and stir or else make some biscuits and let them loose with some icing and sprinkles. Then when they have gone to bed throw most of them away and hopefully they will forget about them soon and sugar levels will return to normal.
You are effortlessly chic - tell us about your favourite style for your busy lifestyle?
Haha, hardly. I spend most of my time smelling of onions cooking and with hair that is constantly scraped back in a bun.
On days when I'm not cooking I do enjoy clean smelling hair and at the moment I love a hairband, good basics like cashmere jumpers (I hate being cold so am never without one) and timeless favourites like some Breton stripes. I do a lot of walking on the school run and wandering around Kew gardens with the children too so for me investing in a wonderful coat is a must too.
Simpkin & Roses are offering TROY readers a generous 15% off your first purchase in our shop. It is valid for the whole of April 2020. They deliver within the M25 on Thursdays and Fridays. Delivery to the Home Counties can be arranged - please contact them to discuss.
Coupon code TROY420 (enter during checkout)
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