Friendships (and a bit about Prue Leith)

It’s amazing how many women come into the cafe and share their passion for cooking with us; telling us about their dreams of one day having their own cafe or restaurant. Claire says she couldn’t have started The Buttercup Cafe without the incredible support and encouragement of her friends and family. But mostly, she says she needed the friendship of her girlfriends (who doesn’t?!).

Just a small cake for Mother's Day Afternoon Tea at The Buttercup

This blog post comes two days after Mother’s Day. We had a wonderful afternoon here at the cafe, serving our cakes and special afternoon tea to lovely local families. Women do indeed make the world go round – and Mothering Sunday is just great for remembering that!

Janet Mahoney is Claire’s great friend from childhood. They’ve shared many dreams and adventures together; sticking by each other through thick and thin. Janet has gone on to set up the wonderful Chichester restaurant, Field and Fork with her husband, the well-known chef Sam Mahoney (@samsfork).

Claire set up The Buttercup because she loves food, she loves cooking for friends and she’s inspired by the idea that good food can really make people happier. When we first opened our doors at The Buttercup, Janet turned up with her old copy of Leith’s Cookery Bible.

She passed it on to Claire, telling her that it was the best book to have in any culinary crisis. How right she was. Lurking under the counter, our well-thumbed copy of Leiths Cookery Bible is full of brilliant recipes and true advice. Each time we use it, we think of Janet, her wise words and the importance of her friendship to The Buttercup.

Prue Leith has just had her autobiography, Relish: My Life on a Plate published. It tells the story of her success and determination; from catering for ad hoc friends’ dinners to owning a Michelin starred restaurant and world-renowned cookery school. She is relentlessly self-confident, but also honest about the mistakes she’s made (in and out of the kitchen). She’s a chef and businesswoman who you can’t fail to be impressed by. There are simply not enough of them.

Perhaps one of our lovely Buttercup customers who tell us about their culinary hopes and business ideas might just turn out to be the next Prue Leith…

In praise of Diana Henry

We were just discussing our dream guest list (alive or dead) for a Buttercup Christmas lunch. George Harrison (circa 1970), Jermaine & Bret from Flight of the Conchords, Stephen Fry, Dorothy Parker and Caitlin Moran were all suggested. Then Claire mentioned her greatest culinary inspiration, Diana Henry.

Diana Henry's brilliant 'Food From Plenty' published by Mitchell Beazley

Diana Henry writes for The Telegraph and has written several genius cookbooks. If you pop in to the cafe you can have a look at our favourite Food from Plenty – it’s up on our cookbook shelf at the back of the cafe. It’s the one splattered with ingredients and looking well used (loved).

As the book says, “Leftovers are at the heart of this book. For example, you’ll find delicious roast dinners followed by an abundance of ideas for things to do with the cold meat the next day. Diana’s delicious recipes from all over the world, from Sicily to the Sahara, turn ‘going without’ on its head and make it a pleasure.’

It’s a book written for home cooks and it doesn’t expect you to go and spend hundreds of pounds on equipment and ingredients which you end up using only once.

It’s a beautifully made book with colourful & inspiring recipes. For a book about leftovers & waste it doesn’t feel depressingly frugal at all.

The Telegraph has lots of Diana’s recipes on their website. I like the idea of her Edible Christmas gifts: Scandinavian pepparkakor.

Diana Henry said in a recent interview, “I suppose food was one of those things I could see always made people happy, made people cheerful whatever else was going on. You can get quite attached to something if it does that.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.