How BonnefireBox Got All Fired Up
To rewind to the beginning: BonnefireBox started life as a street food venture, didn't it? Tell us how it started.
It started life as a pipe dream when Adam used to live in France and saw that in every little village a small pizza van could be sustained as a business. Many years later we imported a French van, designed what we wanted inside and spent a year converting it with a custom-built wood-fired oven. On our first night trading we sold out 50 pizzas in about an hour and a half. . . It built up from there.
We know your pizzas were a huge hit: we read that you were selling 100 per night in summer! So what made you want to move out of the van and into bricks and mortar?
We were keen to give Adam the chance to showcase some of the other things he can cook - he’s been cheffing for more than 15 years. Also we felt we had reached our capacity with the van and the dream of evenings back was a big temptation.
What makes the BonnefireBox Cafe one of a kind, would you say?
We make everything possible ourselves, from the sourdough bread to cordials to all the massive jars of jam, chutney and sweet chilli you will see on the shelves. We try to keep the menu as fresh as possible by updating often, once or twice a week. We also love to cook on real fire. For example we made a barbecued vegetable board which Adam would fire up on a Tuesday morning, just to get the smoky flavour. We also hold a monthly steak night where we get excellent quality meat and cook on the wood fire which gives it an amazing flavour.
If we've not visited before, which signature dish - or dishes - would you recommend?
You absolutely must try the pizza. It’s hands down the most delicious thing. However they are only available on a Friday evening and Saturday lunch so if you’re here on another day, the sourdough bread is unmissable. It’s well worth having a garlic bread on the side - with everything! The bread is at the centre of all our menu and Adam bakes it fresh each morning. We are also really happy with the number of vegan dishes we have on the menu, which are certainly not just for vegans.
Tell us a bit about life before BonnefireBox: what are your backgrounds?
Adam has been a chef for more than 15 years and trained up in Bournemouth. I have a very creative background. I trained as a pattern cutter and worked for ethical women’s and childrenswear brands. I then got into teaching all sorts of design and technology at secondary level. I loved this job but left at Christmastime to support Adam in growing the Bonnefirebox cafe venture. I have been holding a few pop-up sewing sessions in the cafe and you may notice lots of creative touches around the place; I love to upcycle whenever possible. The tables we made from old pallets joined together and sanded down. Plus all the signage and laser-cut tables I made myself: I’m a true crafter at heart.
How do you find working together? And juggling the business with your little girl?
We met working together at The Cricketers in Clavering, where we both spent many years, so it’s not all that different. I also used to help on the van in my evenings, so it makes the most sense for us to work together now. And it’s wonderful to have the cafe because we get to see our little Orla so much more: before we used to be like passing ships, but now we always get family time together. She’s a brilliant pizza tester and is one of the main reasons we try to make the cafe as family-friendly as possible. She’s an independent lady and will never sit still, so we want our customers to feel as relaxed as possible if they have the same type of child that needs a bit of entertainment!
What's next for BonnefireBox?
We’ve just hosted a feast with a friend who specialises in slow hickory pit-style cooking and we’d love to arrange other events. We’re also having a fun time building an impressive outdoor play kitchen for our younger visitors. Most of all we just want our reputation to spread - of interesting and vibrant cooking in a relaxed and friendly space.
BonnefireBox Cafe is at Unit 10, Taylors Barns, Wimbish, Saffron Walden CB10 2XA. Follow @bonnefireboxcafe on Instagram for more.