Food: Fall in love with Foodamour
Advertisement Feature: Bespoke chef caterers Foodamour is celebrated for combining a passion for good food, an elegant approach and a love of fresh ingredients in everything they do. Chef patron Pauline Milbank shares her story
Dishes prepared by Foodamour are instantly recognisable for their beauty as well as their taste. The bespoke catering company, nestled in the heart of East Anglia, prides itself on providing a seamless service for its many satisfied customers, bringing a truly personal style to every occasion catered for – from private dinner parties to weddings, all sorts of celebrations and corporate events. Clients range from royalty and business professionals to people looking for that extra little bit of magic for their event.
Somewhat appropriately, it was love that led the chef patron of Foodamour to launch the business back in 2013. “I came to Newmarket from France to work for the established and successful catering company Wendy Milbank Ltd, which began business more than 25 years ago serving the racing community and then branching out to celebratory events. My background was classic French cuisine and I wanted to broaden my horizons. I stayed for more than a year and met Wendy’s son Philip – who I married.”
The newlyweds returned to France where Pauline worked for a number of Michelin-starred restaurants with a view to opening a restaurant in rural France using as much own-grown produce as possible. “We got married in 2001 and came over to England soon after to help Wendy as her main chef was leaving and we thought we would do a season and come back to France… three children later and we are still here.”
Pauline bought the business from her mother-in-law in 2013, rebranding as Foodamour: “It is a French play on words: ‘Fou d’amour’ which means ‘madly in love’. It sounded right for a business which is focused on weddings and celebrations.” Describing her cooking as a mix of French, Italian and modern British cuisine, Pauline presides over a dedicated team. “We have built an amazing network of great chefs, cooks and front of house staff who are like family now. I never wanted to grow the business too big, preferring to concentrate on the events we do and keep things a little special. We constantly remind ourselves that this is probably one of the most special days of someone’s life in terms of celebrations- whether it’s a wedding, an anniversary, a birthday, a christening or the showing off of their brand when it comes to our corporate work.
“My passion is cooking, and I am lucky that word of mouth has meant that I cater for a range of very exciting events using a wide array of ingredients and produce. A lot of our work still revolves around the racing industry but we’re also lucky that we get to work all over Britain and France. We have been attracting more and more work in Cambridge too which is lovely because there’s a great crowd of foodies there.”
The effects of Covid-19 have impacted the business but Pauline has been busy creating all sorts of wonderful salvers and platters for regular clients. “Recently we have also been catering for quite a few small events. I am convinced that in the immediate future, the ‘chef at home experience’ will be increasingly popular.I think people will be having small events at home with family and friends instead of going out. Many of our regular clients enjoy hiring a chef on a private basis is it often made sense financially – I mean, look at the mark up on a decent bottle of wine in a restaurant!Not only that, it is really fun to have a private dinner party. I like to keep things a little exclusive and small parties really capture that and are so enjoyable. Virtually everyone we have catered for in a private chef way uses us in that way on a regular basis now.”
All of Foodamour’s menus are tailor-made for their clients. While there are examples to inspire clients – Norfolk fillet of beef bites and béarnaise, ricotta and mint cream stuffed crispy courgette flowers, egg and soldier inspired celery salt crusted quail egg, truffle egg yolk purée and baby asparagus – Pauline and her team can turn their hands to anything – canapés and bowl food as well as fine dining – and elegantly adapt to all budgets. “My passion for food dates back to my amazing childhood in the French Alps. I was always helping my Mum, Granny and Aunts in the kitchen. I’m classically trained and spent years cooking French and Italian cuisine before coming to England.”
Pauline is looking forward to the bounty that September brings and a change in menus to reflect the season. “A whole new array of vegetables start to appear in my cooking and signal the end of the hot weather and the beginning of a more cosy type of living and eating. There is something special about the autumn and one of our passions here at Foodamour is wild mushrooms. I love risottos and September always delivers in terms of ingredients, like all the variants of squashes available. `It’s a great transition month.
“I have a passion for collecting recipe books, and my food influences are many. Even our choice of holidays is always heavily dictated by what new foods we might discover. I’m at my happiest cooking or eating food with my family and friends and preparing food for our clients.”
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More by this authorLisa Millard