Food Friends in Surrey

During our 8 or so months (and counting) working in Surrey on Casserole, we’ve been lucky enough to discover, befriend and partner with some pretty awesome organisations and businesses that are doing great things with food and cooking in the area. Since we are all about sharing the love, here’s a little run down of some of our favourite food-related finds and why you should check them out!

Local Food Surrey – This is THE place online to find everything you want to know about local food in Surrey. They have lists of top food producers, small businesses, farm shops, restaurants, foodie events, recipes, and articles to inspire home cooks to buy local and celebrate the culinary delights that Surrey has to offer. Find out what local delicacies are available near you and support Surrey’s food businesses!

East Surrey College – We’ve been chatting to East Surrey College since almost the very beginning of our time in Redhill about how the college and Casserole can work together to support our members. Apart from having a beautiful new building, the college runs a brilliant series of adult cookery classes (ranging from one off evening courses to longer multi-week sessions) that are perfect for any avid cook looking to pick up a few new tricks and recipes and have a bit of fun. Just the other night, we ran a special Indian Cooking to Share class for a few of our Cooks which went swimmingly (given the positive response from this first one, there are sure to be plenty more i the future!), and was a great opportunity to get Casserole members together doing what they do best.

The Art of Living CookShop – Need that perfect baking pan or the best spatula you will ever use (seriously, the best!)? Art of Living is a family run shop in Reigate (they have another shop in Cobham too!) that is a bit of a wonderland filled with every type of cooking supply you could possibly need, are always experimenting with new gadgets (the food results of which they share with their customers). They helped spread the word about Casserole amongst their customer community when our Beta site went live, and we hope to do more with them in the future!

Chalk Hills Bakery – Chalk Hills Bakery is our favourite place to grab an artisanal loaf when we are in Reigate. Chris, the owner, went above and beyond when we asked for some help with our pop-up Lunch Table in Redhill a fewmonths ago,donating two whole bags of beautiful, freshly baked bread to accompany our free lunch feast. They bake all of their bread at Priory Farm (another wonderful place to visit!), use organic flour, and follow traditional, artisanal baking methods – their seeded sourdough is out of this world! 

There you have it, a few of our favourite foodie friends in Surrey. We hope you take the time to check them out, pop round for a visit and say hello! 

Cooking up a Storm!

Well we had fun last night!

Despite flooded roads and heavy traffic, eight of our Casserole members made it to East Surrey College for a class on Indian Cooking to Share. We’ve had the idea to run a cookery class for our members for quite a while, so we were so excited to finally get the opportunity to bring some of our community together to do a bit of what they do best – cook!

Our menu was one of Indian curries made completely from scratch – no curry paste here! After a quick introduction, we got to work on our Chicken Curry and Potato and Pea Bhaji. The room quickly filled with the clattering of pans, smells of fried onions, cumin, chilli and ginger. The reason we chose to do a class on curries is not only that it’s something most people might not know how to make from scratch at home, but it’s an ideal dish to share with others!

One of the most wonderful things about bringing people together in a kitchen, especially in a situation like a cooking class, is that strangers become fast friends. Within minutes of getting started, we heard laughter and banter between Casserole members as though they were old chums – once again, we saw food creating a glorious bridge between people and breaking down those barriers that might make getting to know someone a challenge.

Murtz and I spend a lot of time seeing people’s names on the website, reading their emails and hearing their voices on the phone, but nothing beats meeting them in person. Getting the opportunity to hear people’s stories, find out why their signed up and what they hope to get out of the service, and see them bonding with other members straight away is so invaluable to us, and makes all the hard work very well worth it.

In no time, our collection of ingredients were transformed into some top notch dishes that would give any curry house a run for it’s money! There were no kitchen disasters (although I *may* have overdone it with the chilli…) and everyone’s food looked absolutely delicious!

This first cooking class was a bit of a test run to see if people would actually be interested in attending, find out if it was a good way to get feedback from members, and help get members together to meet and make connections beyond the people they cook for – we’re chuffed to say all of the above seemed to work! After the fun of last night, we’ll definitely be looking to do many more of these, particularly as part of the thank you rewards that will be part of our new Plates feature.

Thanks to all the Casserole members who came along last night – it was an absolute pleasure to put faces to names and hear your enthusiasm for the service. We look forward to many more shared meals to come!

Now I’m off to enjoy the rest of my curry 😉