Grace & Skye

Actors Grace and Skye went from friends to business partners when they set up their unique catering business during Covid-19 whereby they bring experiences to you. Skye had previously been a sous-chef and Grace had completed a course at Leiths School of Cookery, with both having a profound passion for hosting events where the food takes centre stage.

Tell us, how did this all start?

It started of as a small idea really. We noticed that during lockdown people were grabbing food from supermarkets and having picnics and we decided we wanted to go that bit further and curate experiences alongside the meals. We’re both actors and so we had this vision to incorporate poetry, music and entertainment with food in a place of your choosing.

We started offering that package for people in a location of their choice and somewhere along the line we accidently became an official event caterer hosting anything from supper clubs to weddings in parks. Luckily transitioning over to the catering world has been quite easy; we’d both worked in hospitality previously and are passionate about food, plus we had so many contacts in the entertainment world which made planning the music and experiences for events that much simpler.

What’s been the biggest challenges so far?

Obviously, the issue with starting up during Covid is that events were cancelled or rearranged so many times. ‘Freedom day’ got pushed back for a start and a lot of our time has been spent worrying about safety and one-way systems.

Charging people the right amount was also a major factor. We were so worried in the beginning that we were overcharging that we lowered costs because of it. Then after doing a few events, we realised we were actually undercharging by a lot and we began to get the confidence to say “actually, we are worth the money and we’ve demonstrated that.”

What have you enjoyed most about starting up your own business?

Definitely when we hosted the first supper club; seeing people in a field enjoying the food we’d served them was fantastic. It was a four-course menu, most of which was cooked on a big fire, and we had a cocktail bar, a stage for entertainment and we did the production for the whole thing.

There was a real sense of euphoria when people came out of lockdown and we really wanted to use that opportunity to allow people to meet new people and enjoy an experience that they never would have had, say in a restaurant in London.

There’s always been a massive connection between food and community, it creates so many memories for people. Usually at a festival or event, the music or show takes precedence and it’s quite rare for the food to lead the experience. With us, it’s different. The whole experience centres around the dishes being served.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have to ask about the worst experience you’ve had?

That happened quite recently actually when we were doing a market stall in London whilst the city was flooded. We’d had 8 kilos of chicken delivered, the market was a complete washout and we had to make the call quite quickly regarding whether we’d risk putting the food out and potentially losing it all. Skye’s car started to flood as well so things really weren’t going to plan.

It was also Grace’s birthday, so we ended up changing the booking for a birthday meal at the pub and inviting everyone round for a feast at home instead. We’d obviously lost out on profit but at least all the food we’d made didn’t go to waste and it was actually really nice getting the opportunity to enjoy the dishes we’re always serving to others.

Where does the majority of your custom come from?

Many come to us through Instagram – both organically and through paid promotions. Initially the supper club idea was to invite one person we knew and for them to bring another person along, but it escalated so much quicker than that.

Having built the website now we’ve also been really surprised at how good our SEO is. Many people have said they’ve discovered us after searching for supper clubs on Google and I think that’s testament to how important having a good online presence is.

We do all of our marketing & comms in house. We have support with graphics, the website and things like customer journey. There’s a lot of planning involved in getting the business noticed.

What’s next?

We’re catering for a 30th birthday in a Scottish castle in the next few weeks and a big wedding in September. We’ve committed to doing a market stall at Primrose Hill all over Christmas and then, the next supper club is set to take place this Autumn.

What’s the best feedback you’ve received?

We got a lovely review on our website from Business Insider Magazine and we get a lot come through on socials. Many people comment that the food has been a talking point at the events and actively want to know who catered.

Where do you see the business going in the future?

We want to continue to build the empire. We’re really pleased with the journey we’ve been on so far with the business and in the future the dream is to have a little space that is our commercial kitchen but also a shop front that sells things daily. We’d also like to go down the route of running our own events whereby we collaborate with other independent food businesses to make the service we offer bigger and more profitable.

What advice would you give to others entering into the catering sector?

Keep a cool, calm head. Don’t get panicked or stressed if you make a mistake, everything can be solved. It’s a very stressful environment so it’s keeping calm under pressure that’s the key to success. Also, enjoy yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions even if seems really silly.

Reach out to people and grow your network. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Give yourself a break and realise that paying someone to do a quick update on the website is worth it if it would take you hours to figure out. Outsource help on the aspects of the business that you’re not an expert on because it consumes far less of your time in the long run.

We also have a lovely little phrase that we’re constantly using and it’s that we’re “always learning.” There’s no better way of learning than through living it, so if something doesn’t quite go our way, we put it down to experience and take lessons from it to help us move forward.

Finally, tell us about your favorite food experience?

Grace: Definitely when I was in Italy on holiday.  We dined in the tiniest family run restaurant and still six years later I can remember what everyone had and how good it was. My stepdad had a roasted fig, his own pot of honey and goats cheese – it was so simple but so amazing.

Skye: For me, it’s being at home in Italy. Everything is home grown, my parents produce their own olive oil, tomatoes, fig trees and that really is something you can’t beat. I’ve grown up with homegrown produce since the age of eleven or twelve and it’s the best way to eat, which is why we’re so passionate about delivering that same high quality offering to our customers.

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