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North Wales café launches food matchmaking service
True Taste Award-winning Caffi Florence has launched the scheme on Facebook to allow food producers with a glut of fresh produce to find a buyer.
The scheme, believed to be the first of its kind, is at “localfoodnortheastwales” on Facebook and allows growers and buyers to post who has an abundance of fresh local produce and who is ready to buy it.
Caffi Florence’s owner is Jane Clough, who is enthusiastic about the benefits of using local food. Her café is in Loggerheads Country Park in Mold and was the North Wales Regional winner in the Eating Out in Wales – Cafes and Tearooms category of the 2009/10 True Taste Awards, managed by the Welsh Assembly Government.
“We actively seek local food producers with a glut of fruit and vegetables they have grown,” says Jane.
“Last week someone brought in four crates of freshly-picked mushrooms and almost everything on the menu the next day contained mushrooms!”
Jane is one step ahead when it comes to promoting Welsh food. She is believed to be the first to offer specially-tailored courses for sixth form students heading off to university. One course teaches them to cook for themselves while studying; the other is a basic catering course to help them get a part-time job in a bar or restaurant while at college.
The courses are amongst a number of courses aimed at food lovers, from Grow Your Own Veg courses to “Breadmaking” and “Cooking for a family on a budget using locally-sourced food” as well as children’s cooking parties.
Caffi Florence was opened in 2008 and specialises in making homemade food using the best local ingredients. The café sells a range of quality teas and coffee, homemade soups, lunches, traditional Welsh and English afternoon teas, homemade cakes, ice creams and snacks.
It prides itself on being environmentally friendly and minimises packaging waste by using proper cups instead of cardboard ones for tea and coffee and only selling icecream in cornets instead of cardboard tubs.
“Our watchwords are fresh, local, seasonal and homemade,” says Jane.
“But we still struggle to source some of our key ingredients locally. Especially difficult is fruit and vegetables and we are always looking for professional or amateur growers who may be able to supply us with any good quality fresh fruit and vegetables in any quantity. It is fantastic when someone arrives at our kitchen door or phones to say they have a surplus of something. Last autumn we had 37lbs of damsons delivered one day – it took us no time to turn it into wonderful jam to serve with our scones.”
The café was started with Jane, one chef, and five front of house staff. The business has grown so quickly that Jane now employs over 20 people including four full time chefs, a front of house manager and full, part time and seasonal front of house staff.