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Please ask if you would like names and addresses of past customers for personal references.
We wanted to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to you and all your staff. The comments we have had back have surprised us and we knew how good you were! Everyone was blown away by the quality of the food, the level of service and how well they were looked after. This really made the day for us, made it very memorable for our guests and will take some beating!! We really can’t express our gratitude enough. We had the best day and a lot of that was down to you and your staff so thank you again.
Thank you so much for an absolutely amazing catering service! We had so many compliments on your lovely food and we are so grateful that we hired you.
The food was fantastic and compliments were pouring in from all sides – “fresh, tasty, the best lamb I have ever tasted – the canapés were so delicious and unusual – brilliant and smiling service – staff so helpful to oblige and unobtrusive – food cooed to perfections – how could they do it so fresh for all those people – wow what lovely chicken and I wish I had a bit of all the choices – best side dishes I’ve ever tasted at a wedding”.
“We were so pleased with the superb quality of the catering. Almost every letter we have received made reference to the food with words such as excellent and scrumptious recurring throughout. The canapes were a combination of visually attractive and extremely delicious – a rare combination.
The excellent lunch the following day was awe inspiring.
That all this was produced in an atmosphere of calm and good humour was a great tribute to you and to your excellent efficient staff…….and of course Peter!”
“Thanks again for the excellent dinner”
“We really appreciated the way in which you conducted the catering arrangements from the perfect cuisine (innumerable compliments on the tenderness and the perfect cooking of the lamb received) to the invisible staff who got the job done without calling any attention to themselves and the wonderful clear up operation.
I am sure you do not need testimonials to prospective customers but feel free to pass on our names.
Thank you for a very important contribution to a very special and memorable day.”
“We were truly grateful for all the hard work you both put in on Saturday on our behalf. Everyone enjoyed the wedding from start to finish. The canapes were praised and the lovely welcome on the girls’ faces was much appreciated by all our guests. Our thank-you letters are all including praise for the excellent food.”
“One of the special memories we take with us back to the U.S. is the delicious, elegantly prepared dinners you provided for us during our visit. We looked forward each evening to a tasty, gourmet meal. Thank you for sharing your exceptional culinary skills with us.”
“I am sure it was a stressful occasion for you, but as always, the food was splendid and was very much appreciated by everyone present. We have received many compliments about the catering. It was especially good that you were able to source so many of the ingredients from the County. You did the County proud.
Congratulations once again on a superb job.”
The blustery weather is troubling Gina Smithies. She is catering for a 50th wedding anniversary celebration dinner and is relying on fresh Pembrokeshire lobster and crab for Thai seafood terrine. But with a brisk, northerly blowing it is looking doubtful that the fishermen will get out to sea.The ocean is clearly visible from her kitchen at Trehill Farm, Marloes, and it does, indeed, look choppy.
Gina, who runs an outside catering business from the farm, likes to use fresh, local ingredients in her dishes. When you live this close to the sea, seafood is a must. Cooking is a passion for Gina and is the reason she gave up her secretarial job to study at La Petite Cuisine School of Cookery, in Richmond. After a spell working for Prue Leith’s catering company in London she met and married Peter and they moved to his family’s farm in Cornwall where she developed her cooking skills in the kitchen of a country pub while also developing an outside catering business. When their first son, George, was two, they returned to Gina’s home county of Pembrokeshire to buy Philbeach Farm, near Marloes, and formed a partnership with her parents at nearby Trehill Farm.
They now farm 600 acres of potatoes, arable, sheep and cattle. Gina’s business break, in Pembrokeshire, came nine years ago when she was asked to cater for her cousin’s wedding. Her reputation was established and the catering business took off. “I have never consciously launched the business; people took a gamble on me, and it has developed through word of mouth,” she explains. Gina is in demand for weddings, charity events and celebration meals but her favourite commission is a wedding. “I love weddings because you become part of the family. You are greeted like a true friend for years later.”
She will make anything a client requests, and loves it when they have an adventurous taste in food. Canapes are a real favourite. “Canapes always go down well. They are eye-catching, tasty and appetizing, and a really great way of introducing imaginative and innovative new flavours and textures. People really do notice them,” she says.
A wedding takes a lot of planning so she shops for the dry ingredients and collects hired table linen five days ahead of the big day.If there is fudge or pastry on the menu she starts making that on Wednesday, followed by puddings on Thursday. She has ample storage in her refrigerated trailer which she hitches up and tows to the venue. On Friday, it’s last minute shopping, more puddings and vegetable preparation. Saturday is always an early start for both Gina and her husband, Peter, who has a very important role to play on the day itself. “I couldn’t do it without Peter. It is quite a physical job when you have to set up a makeshift kitchen in a marquee,” admits Gina. “He helps deliver the crockery, then puts on his pinny and starts cooking. He is also very good at motivating the team and sorting out any crisis.” Their three sons, 13-year-old George, Archie, aged 11, and Ned, who is nine, are also a willing band of helpers. “The boys like to come to the event to carry things and clear up. They also look forward to any leftovers!” says Gina.
The boys have hearty appetites and with their mother’s good cooking they have well developed tastes in food. “They like proper food, a trip to McDonald’s would be a disappointment for them,” she says. They eat her `disasters’ – the dishes she reckons aren’t quite up to standard – and there have been occasions when they have inadvertently tucked into her triumphs too. “I once baked a large ginger cake for a function and left it to cool in the kitchen. The boys arrived home from school, with Peter in charge, and by the time I got back it was nearly all eaten!”
Gina’s cooking is not just appreciated by her family but by royalty too. She cooked for the Queen during an official visit to Pembrokeshire. Her majesty ate every mouthful of her lunch of locally smoked salmon, roasted Pembrokeshire rack of lamb and chocolate Florentine pears. Gina also prepared a buffet for the Prince of Wales, but he was running late on that day so his personally-requested egg and cress sandwiches – his favourite – had to be packed into a picnic. “I was in a catering marquee on Brunel Quay, Neyland and I only had cling film to hand. It didn’t seem right to wrap Prince Charles’ lunch in plastic!”
The business keeps Gina very busy but she limits her bookings during May until mid-July.This is the busiest period on the farm, when the 100-acres of potatoes are harvested and Gina is in charge of quality control in their packhouse which they run for Asda supplier, E. Park and Sons Ltd. “I have agreed to cater for a friend’s wedding this summer but that is an exception,” she says.
Potatoes are the one dish she knows to cook plenty of if she is catering for farmers with hearty appetites. “I have set quantities of food I use as a guide, but when the event is all farmers I know to up the quantities, especially new season Pembrokeshire early potatoes!”