Meet Georgia and Arabella the two masterminds behind The Hill Food Company, a catering service like no other.
At The Hill Food Company they do things a little differently. Whether it’s an intimate dinner, product or brand launch, press day, wedding, milestone celebration or themed party, their expert team use the best, seasonal ingredients to create innovative and exciting menus and exceptional events.
We met with the duo a few weeks ago to discuss all the ins and outs to running their successful catering business.
What is the history of The Hill Food Company?
Georgia: I started The Hill Food Company after leaving Leiths school of food and wine in 2010. Initially I was cooking small dinner parties for family friends in Notting Hill, then the parties got bigger as the word spread. Now we work all over London and beyond, but those very first clients, many of whom we still work for are always still my favourite parties! In 2015 Arabella and I met and she started helping me with putting together proposals. Bella, who had previously worked at a super smart London caterer, brought a new level of professionalism. Between the two of us we strive to deliver food that is seasonal, natural and simple but of the very highest quality. It’s not fussy, it’s real food but the service should be refined and professional allowing the client to join the party as if they were a guest. We aim to make it look effortless, although behind the scenes that’s often not the case!
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Georgia: I grew up in London and when my parents divorced I suddenly found myself with Tuesday nights and every other weekend with a kitchen all to myself and the option to cook or to eat takeaways. My grandmother is an amazing cook, although like me she’s never 100% happy with anything she’s made, despite what anyone else says. I remember watching her cook every element of our Sunday lunch and trying to remember each step, ruffling up the hot potatoes and tumbling them into hot oil. That meal (with a few additions from me) is still my desert island dish! When I’m not cooking you can probably find me in my garden, fighting the great fight to stop the slugs and snails getting to my vegetables. In the summer most of the endless amounts of edible flowers we use and many of the herbs are grown in my little garden. It’s a labour of love! Often I start in the kitchen at 6am or earlier, and the garden has to be watered and flowers picked before this. I work long hours but it’s very satisfying.
Bella: I come from a big family and therefore grew up surrounded by lots of people, so love nothing better than bringing people together for a celebration. When I was younger my Mum ran a children’s clothing line called Golly Gosh alongside raising five naughty children. We used to model for her catalogues and I was always bossing the other children around so I guess it’s no surprise I went for a career as an event manager. I think I’ve also inherited her desire to pack as much as I can into the day, although I’m more of a night owl. When we get up very early for events or go to the market together, Georgia knows she’ll get no sense out of me until I’ve had at least one coffee and a cheese toastie. Between the two of us we joke that we have a business open 24 hours.
Tell us about the events you cater for?
Georgia: We cater for all sorts of events. In fact that’s the best thing about our job. Today in our enquiries list there are lots of weddings, bar mitzvah’s and birthday dinners as well as events for big banks and businesses. As we are bespoke, none of our menus are the same. We have lots of fashion clients and brands who often need food and drinks to complement their collections, new products or themes. Sometimes the requests are completely bizarre but that’s the fun bit. Weddings are our favourites- it’s a cliché but it’s a great honour to be involved in someone’s special day.
Where do you get your inspiration from for your menus?
Georgia: Our inspiration is very much seasonal, peppered with Instagram inspo and as much eating out as we can fit into our busy weeks of events. When we can, we shop direct from the wholesale fruit and vegetable market at New Covent Garden and you can see the season change here. Autumn is probably the most exciting change- pumpkin and squash, crab apples, chestnuts and figs. We work directly with suppliers too, changing our menus to adapt to what’s best right here and now, trying to ensure that our ingredients are really allowed to speak for themselves.
What are your three favourite ingredients to work with?
Georgia: Impossible question, it changes every week, I’m very fickle. Right now, figs, orange blossom water and the first of the sweet Delicata squash. Last week, yuzu, this amazing Yorkshire pecorino and some honey that a client gave me from their own hives (they feed off borage and the honey is sweet and delicate and delicious on the Pecorino).
How did you get into the catering industry?
Georgia: As a child I wanted to be a baker or a professional skipper (with a rope), I don’t really remember wanting to do anything else apart from cook. I went to university to make sure and then went to Leiths School of Food and wine where I got to cook for a whole year with lots of other people who felt the same as me. It was amazing, and now I’m sort of still here many years on.
Bella: When I passed my driving test I realised I could earn quite a lot of money working for a local caterer as a waitress. If I worked non stop all weekend at a big wedding, I realised I could afford to go on holiday afterwards- this was a real pull! Then, despite studying languages at university in Dublin, I got tempted back into the world of events after a brief spell working for a tech startup. I also did a term at Leiths which confirmed I wanted to work in food, although not as a professional chef.
Who are your inspirations?
Georgia: There all quite obvious, lots of chefs, lots of family and many of my incredibly talented friends. Bella’s enthusiasm for detail is quite inspirational too.
Bella: Ditto- family and friends, and women who run businesses but still don’t take themselves too seriously. Georgia is number one inspiration, her creativity and way with ingredients is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered.
What makes you different from other catering companies?
Georgia: I like to think its our style that makes us a little different the food is always the focus and not something we compromise, its uncomplicated and should always be delicious.
Bella: Our food and style is very honest. It’s often described as ‘homely’ which I think is a complement, we try and make people feel at ease in every sense at an event, not just with the food but with the service too.
Who is your biggest influence?
Bella: We have lots… Skye Gyngell, Ottolenghi, Jamie Oliver, Alice Waters, Ruth Rogers to name a few!
When should you book a caterer for a wedding?
Georgia: We get booked up for weddings years in advance so I would never say it’s too soon. Once you have an idea of what you want its certainly worth getting in touch to discuss your options. It really helps if you have a date and venue in mind to avoid disappointment.
What would be on your wedding menu?
Georgia: I’d like to do it all myself (ultimate control freak) so lasagna with bowls and bowls of seasonal salad and a pavlova I can jump into and then for my second wedding a super chic 5 course plated supper with peaches and burrata and scorched runner beans, home-made truffle and ricotta ravioli, roast poussin with garlic and rosemary roast potatoes and broad beans and piles of amazing cheese with truffle honey and figs and custard tart with a selection of at least 15 different ice creams.
Bella: I change my mind all the time but I think I would go for loads and loads of different canapés to include the famous Hill Food Co spag bol fritter with spiced ketchup. Then possibly a delicate crab and pea panna cotta starter, followed by guinea fowl or chicken and seasonal veg, then loads of different sharing tarts to finish. It would all have to be very seasonal and paired with some delicious wine, and there would be lots of fun and slightly unusual botanical cocktails. And obviously a huge cheese board that everyone could revisit at lunch the following day.
They are a small set up with big ideas so whatever you’re planning get in touch with their team to discuss your event: http://thehillfoodcompany.com/#contact