Three third years decided to set up a business that provides dinner parties, without the effort of cooking it yourself and the dreaded washing up afterwards. Calling it Pop Up Pantry, a dinner cooked by these three ladies just went for £550 at the FS Charity Auction this past weekend. I had lunch and a chat with the faces behind the brand: Sophie Gordon Craig, Rose Eastwood and Lorna Cumming Bruce.
Sophie had made honey and walnut soda bread, whilst Rose made a delicious mixed leaf salad with pancetta, artichoke, chargrilled peppers, avocado, gorgonzola and balsamic vinaigrette. Banana muffins for pudding left me rolling down South Street to my lecture.
What is Pop up Pantry?
Sophie: We all really love cooking, and cooking for people, especially dinner parties. So we decided that it would be quite interesting and fun to do a business where we offer our services cooking for people, and to potentially make a bit of money as well.
Lorna: The idea is that we are a student catering company catering for students. We’ll turn up and cook in your house, and then wash up after ourselves, which is a big pro, and serve the food if you want us to. We can do it for any number of people as well, for lunch, supper or post event brunches.
Rose: The point is that it’s cheaper than going out to eat.
S: Yeah it’s somewhere in between having a dinner party and eating out, which can be quite expensive. We’re hoping the market in St A is ideal, and having spoken to a few friends about it they’ve expressed an interest in it. Sometimes you really want a dinner party or something to celebrate or a society dinner but it’s just the sheer amount of effort that stops you from doing it.
So is it cheaper than eating out?
L: Well we’ve decided that for two courses, with homemade bread, it’s going to be £10 (for a simple meal).
S: You bring your own alcohol and you can have your own music.
L: That’s the average price, but it could go up or down depending on what you want to do. For example if you want three courses, or you want lobster or something more complicated then it’ll be a bit more pricey.
Have you done anything so far?
L: We’ve had two main events so far…
R: But we’ve all cooked a lot individually, so it’s not as if we’re just jumping into it.
S: So in terms of a collaborative effort, under the umbrella of Pop up Pantry we’ve done two events.
L: They were kind of opposites; so the first one was crab linguine, lobster with various salads and Eton mess for pudding.
S: It was quite elaborate, quite a smart dinner. We served and everyone was in black tie; it was for a society type thing, so everyone was paying for themselves in the way you would if you were eating out.
L: Then the second one was for friends and was more on the simple side, lasagne and tart tatin with a couple of salads.
S: A very relaxed kind of a normal St Andrews dinner party, but it was quite nice for them to be able to do it without worrying about everything.
Did you enjoy doing it?
S: Yeah, it was really fun, and I think we work very well together as a team.
R: We have ideas that come together really well.
When did you first get into cooking?
L: When I was baking cakes when I was 12, but I’ve also been doing cooking jobs since the beginning of my gap year.
S: We’ve always just really loved food, and I think coming to University and having to cook for yourself has really contributed to that.
R: Cooking is also a really good way to make money in the holidays. My sister and I actually do competitive baking when we’re bored.
We all have our fair share of culinary disasters; did you have any particularly spectacular ones?
S: I had one where I was making pâté, and only read the first line of the recipe, which said to combine all the ingredients in the blender. So I just did that and whizzed it up, put it into ramekins and put it in the oven (as it was a baked sort of pâté). Then, I realised that I had put the bread for the toast in with all the other ingredients, so it just ended up being quite fragrant stuffing.
R: I’ve always been a keen baker and once I didn’t understand how much salt you were meant to put into these cupcakes I was making, so I thought I would measure out the average person’s daily salt allowance as I thought it wouldn’t be very much. My Mum saw me putting in six ounces of salt into this mixture and thankfully stopped me; I’ve definitely been more reserved with salt since.
Who is your culinary inspiration?
S: Pre-crack Nigella; no actually she’s still an idol now.
L: I think it’s a cross between Nigella and Ottolenghi.
S: Oh, actually I love a bit of Heston Blumenthal,
R: Oh, and what about Rick Stein, I know he’s a bit old and out of fashion.
L: And Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall- his recipes are always really simple but delicious with really good quality ingredients.
R: I really like cooking blogs as well; we’re doing blog of the week on our Facebook page actually.
What would be your last meal on earth?
S: It definitely depends on what mood you’re in, there are a lot of factors
L: I’d have the Italian style steak where they grill it and chop it really thinly, with mustard and crème fraiche sauce, a really amazing salad and freshly baked bread. Definitely a cheese board for pudding with quince, grapes and some dark chocolate on the side.
R: Anything Asian, Dim Sum to start with dips, something like Thai Green curry for main and anything with chocolate for pudding.
S: Would you know this was your last meal? I think I’d be quite stressed about dying.
R: No, think about like you’re leaving earth and going to live on the moon, so you just wont get good food up there, it will all be in packets.
S: Ok I’ve got it; Parma ham, really ripe figs and buffalo mozzarella drizzled with honey and some fresh French bread.
How do I go about booking you?
R: You can get in touch via our Facebook page or you can FB message one of us if you don’t want to do it on there.
All images courtesy of Sophie Gordon Craig.