Last weekend a good friend of mine got married in the Lake District.
Perhaps stupidly I agreed to pick up coordinating the catering in response to the bride and groom asking guests to help with running different parts of the wedding.
I initially offered to take on the mammoth task of cooking for 100 as I wanted to see if it could be achieved using produce sourced from independent local retailers only, whilst sticking to a tight budget.
The outcome: for £400 a more or less organic vegan and vegetarian Indian feast was prepared for one hundred guests, in addition to two breakfasts.
Only two items were bought from a supermarket: frozen peas and plain soya yoghurt. These two items were not bought from a supermarket due to price but due to local retailers not selling them.
The whole feat was made possible by a team of good friends armed with ukuleles, big cooking pans and knives, and the support of many local producers.
It was exhausting.
It was also very inspiring and moving to be supported by small retailers and producers, some of whom went out of their way to help with sourcing ingredients.
Alan Schofield from Growing with Nature delivered a sack of organic onions to my house.
Claver Hill Community food project supplied a sack of no-dig potatoes, which were stored in a friend’s shed and then delivered to my house (along with 12 bottles of homemade elderflower champagne and a box of rose petal confetti).
My allotment supplied a range of herbs and apples for apple chutney. And the small asian shop on Blade Street went out of its way to get an array of spices and unusual ingredient for me.
Filberts Bakery provided an array of warm and tasty loaves in addition to good advice: “create a spreadsheet of everything you need to buy and do, and offer breakfast for people on the last day of the wedding to encourage help with cleaning!”
An ex-housemate taught me how to cook the curries and a new housemate helped me order a range of pulses in bulk from SUMA– a wholefood wholesaler based in Yorkshire.
All in all I learnt a lot and have come away from the weekend with a fuzzy warm feeling inside.
Food has an excellent way of connecting you with your local community, and cooking as a group to music is a great way to catch up with old friends and make new friends.
I have also learnt that Filbert’s bakery is collecting goods to support refugees in Greece. So please go and ask how you can support their efforts.