I first worked with Amy and Ross from Stour Valley Catering on Charlotte and Tom’s wedding day at Glemham Hall last year. Since then we worked together at the Woolverstone Hall’s open day. We are proud to be recommended suppliers at both of these lovely Suffolk wedding venues.
Thank you Amy and Ross for answering our questions, I really enjoyed reading more about your story and how your business came together. Both couples getting married at a venue/having a marquee wedding will find your answers really insightful, as I certainly learnt some new things about the world of catering.
If you’re currently looking for your wedding caterers and want to chat through your wedding plans Amy and Ross from Stour Valley Catering would love to hear from you.
Essex wedding caterer ‘Stour Valley Catering’ answers your questions:
TELL US YOUR STORY
Ross and I have worked together in weddings and events since 2017, however, our hospitality careers started way before then! Stour Valley Catering was officially open for business in November 2019 after the closure of the company we were working at due to the owner’s ill health. We took on the workload of the business which gave us a busy diary for our first year of trading, which has since grown, and also meant we could continue to work with the clients which we had been so involved with in the lead up to their big day.
A little bit about the owners of Stour Valley Catering…
Whilst studying for 4 years at hospitality college, training in front of house, kitchen and events, like most teenagers I had a part-time job too, which was for an event company, Bespoke Caterers, covering Essex, Suffolk and London. From celebrity parties to plane launches, they covered it all.
I wanted to steer more towards the event side of hospitality and soon after my college year had finished, a job opened up as an Event Coordinator, my employers offered me the position. I was with the company for a total of 9 years and loved every second! And keep in touch with the owners still.
In 2016 I made the leap (actually, an incredibly massive jump) to work in London. I was offered an extremely exciting new role as Restaurant Coordinator at Simon Rogan’s Michelin starred restaurant, Fera at Claridge’s. I spent a very happy 18 months in the role, totally different from the wedding and event side of my past, but a fantastic opportunity and another level of training altogether, not to mention amazing staff perks.
In 2017 I realised I missed the wedding side of the industry, I guess there’s something about marquees and wedding venues you miss when you see the same scenery week in week out in the city. Spring 2017 I saw a Suffolk catering company looking for an Event Manager as well as someone to help move the company forward. In May I joined the team at Jam Tartz and never looked back. I had three great ‘seasons’ and loved every second. A different venue each week, moving around the county was what I had missed and loved.
As the seasons went on, the team grew tighter. You don’t need to be friends with your colleagues, but when your colleagues are your friends, it makes the team a stronger one.
The decision was sadly made to close the company due to the ill health of the owner. Which lead to SVC being born.
I studied professional cookery at Colchester Institute for 3 years, studying all aspects of the kitchen from larder, fish and meat to pastry. When I qualified from my final year, I was given the opportunity by the college to have an international placement. I spent 18 very happy months in Phoenix, Arizona at a beautiful resort called The Phoenician.
The Phoenician is a 5 star, 5 diamond resort. Whilst I was there, I had the privilege of working at a fantastic gala ball to celebrate the New York Giants winning the Super Bowl in 2008. The Giants were also staying at the Phoenician for the event.
When I came home from America I was employed by P&O Cruises and worked onboard the Oriana for a term (6months). Following my time at P&O I also worked for an American 5 star cruise company, Regent Seven Seas.
In 2011 I decided to leave the cruise side of hospitality, and went into the outside catering side, for one of Suffolk’s biggest event companies at the time, Chimneys. Working at a huge number of weddings and events across the county in my time there, I realised this was what I wanted to pursue. In 2014 I joined the team at Jam Tartz as Sous Chef, catering for a range of occasions from intimate dinner parties, corporate events, charity fundraisers and of course weddings. This is where I met my business partner Amy.
We have now entered an extremely exciting period with Stour Valley Catering with our first wedding season as SVC!
Together, we combine our knowledge and skills of event management and culinary skills producing top quality dining for all our events. We look forward with great anticipation to what this venture has in store for us.
WHERE ARE YOU BASED AND WHERE DO YOU COVER?
Stour Valley Catering (SVC) is based in Sudbury, Suffolk. We cover Suffolk and Essex mainly, but do get enquiries further afield such as Norfolk and London too.
HOW MANY MENUS CAN COUPLES CHOOSE FROM?
Couples can choose from the 4 different three-course menus we offer and can also mix and match between the menus if needed. We also have BBQ and Knife & Fork Buffet menus available too, plus evening food, canape and sweet menus too such as s’mores!
We are also open to clients own ideas, so if they have a favourite dish they love cooking together, a memorable occasion such as a picnic for their first date for instance, we like to incorporate these into their special day if we can.
DO YOU CATER FOR ALLERGIES? GLUTEN/LACTOSE/NUTS ETC.
We cater for dietary requirements, allergies etc. We make dishes as similar as possible so the guest doesn’t feel like they’re missing out. For example, if there is a pastry dish, and they can’t have gluten, we would use gluten-free pastry instead for them, and replace any gluten items for those which are gluten-free.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST POPULAR STARTERS, MAINS & DESSERT?
We have found that this would be our smoked salmon tian for starter, cannon of lamb with dauphinoise potatoes as the main course, and a trio of dessert, usually our rich chocolate brownie, red berry pavlova and tangy lemon tart. (from menu 4). Lamb is an extremely popular main course option for wedding menus.
HOW DO YOU OFFER YOUR MENU TASTINGS?
We offer our tasting sessions on a personal one to one basis. A lot of our clients who come for their tastings are shocked when it is just them in the room as they expect a mass gathering. We don’t work that way. The happy couple are invited along to the tasting complimentary, additional people can join, such as the couple’s parents if required, for a small charge.
We have a brief meeting first to discuss all the details such as timings for the day whilst the canapes are plated up. All of the dishes are served how they would be on the wedding day. Following the couple sampling their chosen menu, we get to the nitty-gritty and finalise their menu and finish with the food meeting. We allow 90 minutes for a tasting session, however, we do allow 2 hours between tastings in case they overrun.
HOW MANY CANAPÉS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND PER GUEST?
We recommend 4-5 canapes per person during the arrival reception and suggest a mix of meat, fish and vegetarian options. Dietary requirements would be catered for accordingly and as part of our menu for children, we make little nibble boxes for them too.
Couples always tend to ask for guidance on the length of the drinks/canape reception. We recommend 1 ½ hours usually which also gives the photographers plenty of time with the happy couple too, whilst giving the couple also time to speak with guests and have a quiet 5 minutes together.
DO YOU OFFER BAR SERVICES?
TYPICALLY WHICH WEDDING VENDORS WOULD USUALLY BE SUPPLIED A MEAL ON A WEDDING DAY?
The typical wedding suppliers which require meals would be band/musicians, photographers, videographers (and their assistants if they bring one so always handy to check that!).
We always highlight to the couple to check over their suppliers T&C’s as most will state if they require food. We offer a ‘crew menu’ which is the same main course and dessert option as the wedding breakfast.
WHEN YOU WORK MARQUEE WEDDINGS DO YOU WORK WITH COUPLES TO ENSURE THEY HAVE THE CORRECT KITCHEN EQUIPMENT?
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WINES TO RECOMMEND FOR THE TABLE?
We have a brilliant wine list from our commercial wine merchant. Once we had our list confirmed I got to sample a few from there and the NZ Sauvignon Blanc and Primitivo are cracking wines! There is also a Portuguese house red and white and they’re very easy to drink light wines too.
If our clients decide to go ahead with us supplying the wine for them, not only do they get sale/return so they only pay for what they use, but we offer samples to be arranged so they can taste the wine in the comfort of their own home at their convenience.
IF COUPLES OPT TO HAVE THEIR WEDDING CAKE AS A DESSERT WHEN WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THE CAKE CUT?
We are finding more people wanting to use their wedding cake as a dessert option, which is great. We tend to suggest serving this with jugs of cream and berry compote to make it a little more desserty.
When the cake is being served as dessert, we need to ensure that there is enough time for this to be cut/portioned ready for the dessert. If this is the case then once the happy couple are welcomed into the room and seated, the first formalities are that the cake is cut, followed by speeches and then the wedding breakfast would be served once the speeches have finished. This would give the team est. 30 minutes to make a start on the dismantling and cutting of the cake ready to be plated and served.
A lot of couples feel that their wedding cake will be left and they will be eating it for weeks to come, but this isn’t always the case! We tend to walk this around in the evening once it has been cut to make sure people do not miss out. We also have plenty of napkins on hand for this to be wrapped up too.
HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN YOU CATER FOR?
For weddings and sit down dinners, we have a minimum charge of 60 guests, however, we can and do cater smaller weddings, there might just be a small surcharge but that would depend on the individual enquiry itself.
We have catered for 230 before and have a great support team both front and back of house to deal with larger numbers like that. In the case of a large event such as 230, the floor and kitchen would usually be split into two teams to cut down on the service time.
HOW MANY STAFF DO YOU HAVE ON THE DAY?
DO YOU SOURCE YOUR FOOD LOCALLY?
We do source our food locally, for instance, our butcher is in Bury St Edmunds and the quality of the meat we get from him is fantastic! We have other suppliers based in Suffolk and Essex which we use regularly too.