What makes a great meal? Quality delicious food, obviously, but the dining experience is all important.
For example sitting outdoors in the sunshine, eating in a mindful, relaxed way, listening to the birds singing is a lovely experience as opposed to rushing a cobbled together snack packing the kids school bags, at the same time trying to feed the dog and then the phone starts ringing and the oven timer goes off.
In restaurants and café’s the ‘experience’ and creating a sense of ‘occasion’ is often overlooked. The food may be fabulous and the décor stunning but if the atmosphere is lacking and the service poor then it’s not enjoyable. In the interests of research (of course) I recently had a posh afternoon tea in London marred by poor service and grubby cutlery. This might sound picky but as a customer you want to feel valued and special. It is you, after all, parting with your hard earned cash.
Getting service right is a skill in itself. It is finding a balance between attentiveness and friendliness whilst not being too intrusive. It is about respecting and attending to the customer. Nor do you want the service to be overly pompous or officious. The friendliness and attention shown also needs to feel genuine and not scripted. Getting it right is difficult to pull off but, when it works it makes all the difference. Where we can we strive to exceed expectation.
Wherever you may be, from a tiny café to a posh restaurant, great service can elevate even an average meal into a great night out. Going somewhere where your custom feels valued and appreciated and you are made to feel special transforms the occasion. We all want to be made to feel special.
At Room Forty we work very hard to try to get the customer experience right. It is important never to take any customer or guest for granted, we share in the customer’s excitement, and strive to treat them, their guests and their special occasion with the care, respect and individuality that we would expect ourselves. We delight in the feedback that we get from our customers and guests through emails, Facebook posts and reviews. We are not perfect, but always try to go the extra mile with a smile!
Want to speak to us about your party? Call Jen 01925 357940
When I started Room Forty Afternoon Teas just two years ago I had a vision, but no idea about how to achieve it.
Every day was a baby step (sometimes backwards) designing menus, learning to bake and create, finding better ways to do things and tweaking and refining. Not to mention the business side of things and finding a way to store all the vintage crockery.
On the days or sometimes weeks with no bookings I didn’t give up, I just stretched the goals and worked harder.
Working with the fabulous Mitch Poole to expand the Room Forty offer we began bread making courses and now run them across the north west, achieving silver in the world bread awards for our white delight loaf.
Our canapés take an age to produce, but they’re individual, tasty and from the heart.
Our recipe is simple. Give something extra. Try something new. Delight in surprising your customers....
...and have people around you that believe in you.
Anything is possible. This award proves it.
Thank YOU for being part of our journey.
Here's a bit of the media coverage so far!
Award winning bakers Room Forty to bring their bread baking school to Mossley Hill, Liverpool
Award winning Room Forty are bringing their mobile baking school to Mossley Hill Parish Church’s, Hilltop Centre on 21 March, 4 & 11 April.
Room Forty won a Silver Award at the World Bread Awards held in London last October for their bread baking excellence. This is the first time that Room Forty have brought their baking classes to Liverpool, other classes are run in Warrington, Lymm, Grappenhall and Rainford, St Helens.
The classes start at 5.15pm and take approximately three hours. Students on the beginners class will learn how to make the perfect white loaf, wholemeal loaf, pizza and sodabread. Students on the Italian Breads class will learn how to make focaccia, a cheese & walnut pane (pane con noci e formaggi) and rosemary ciappe (rosemary crackers). Classes are fun, hands on and participants leave with the products of their labour.
Jen Perry, proprietor of Room Forty mobile afternoon tea emporium and mobile cookery school said,
‘We are passionate about baking, passionate about real, additive free food and delight in passing on our baking skills. The feedback that we have had following our classes has been astonishing. We have fun teaching and the groups have great fun learning. More importantly we are being inundated with photo’s of the amazing loaves that our past students have sent us of their bread baking successes at home. Proof indeed that the classes work. Mitch who leads the classes is from Mossley Hill so this will be a homecoming for him’
Classes cost only £55 for the Beginners Bread and £65 for the Italian Breads class. Costs include the cost of all ingredients, samples of bread and nibbles to eat and copious quantities of tea and coffee. Class participants also leave with recipes and the breads that they bake.
To book a class contact Jen at Room Forty 01925 357940 email@example.com
A bit more about us....
Room Forty is an award winning mobile Afternoon Tea emporium and baking school based in Warrington and founded by Jennifer Perry.
Room Forty won a Silver Award in the Tiptree World Bread Awards held at Westminster Hall, London in October 2017. The Awards represent the pinnacle of bread baking excellence for craft and artisan bakers. The Awards are judged on a blind tasting by 48 master and craft bakers.
With a few days to go before we celebrate the centenary of the women’s right to vote, Room Forty looks at the transformation of the culinary world over the same period; and digest the significant influence that women have made on our diet, attitude to ingredients and of course the nation’s love of food.
Heston, Gordon, Matt, Marco, Raymond, Michel, Jamie…the concept of the TV celebrity super-chef is relatively new. Professional chef’s removing the veil behind the curtain and revealing the mysteries of their craft. But there’s a pattern here, with a few exceptions, including the brilliant Angela Hartnett and Emily Watkins - they are virtually all men.
Lest we forget though, historically it has been women at the vanguard of cooking. Just as an army marches on its stomach, so does the nation and it has traditionally been women feeding the households of Britain.
The first major author to influence the cooking of the nation was by a woman, Isabella Beeton. Isabella was the original Domestic Goddess, her book, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, was first published in 1861. An instant bestseller; the 76 chapter volume was a compendium of household tips and duties for the staff with a substantial cookery section. She exalted the merits of cooking seasonal and local food, a message that resonates today and particularly is a mantra for me and my business Room Forty. Most of her recipes, though tested by Mrs B, had in fact been purloined from a host of other writers - albeit that they too were all female. The influence of this book however cannot be understated. Incredibly, I50 odd years later, the book remains in print.
Fast forward 60 years and although ‘King of Chefs’, Auguste Escoffier was undoubtedly a culinary genius, King Edward VII, preferred the ‘Queen of Cooks’, Rosa Lewis. The brilliant Rosa cooked in the French style; lighter and less stodgy fayre than the Victorian cooking of Isabella Beeton. She was appointed as Edward’s personal chef, a role she looked after for 20 years. Rosa was formerly the chef to the Churchill family and a favourite of Kaiser Wilhelm II too. By the age of 35 this talented and clever woman had moved on. She bought the Cavendish Hotel which she transformed into one of the most fashionable hotels of the era frequented by the glitterati of the day.
1939 saw the start of World War II and the necessity for frugality. Marguerite Patten was appointed by the Ministry of Food to guide the nation through rationing. She wrote recipes and hosted a radio broadcast called The Kitchen Front designed to make the most of what was available. By 1947 she had become Britain’s first TV cook (although she was always insistent to her death that she was NOT a cook but a Home Economist). Still revered by contemporary chefs, it was Marguerite to whom Jamie Oliver turned for advice when working on his school dinner campaign as to how to make meals on a budget. In her remarkable 99 year lifetime she wrote an incredible 170 cookery books including one that I possess, The Everyday Cook Book in Colour, which went on to sell over 17 million copies. Tried, tested and trusted it remains a faultless reference.
Eccentric, slightly bonkers and so perfect for TV, Fanny Cradock hit British TV screens in 1955. The advent of colour TV in the late 1960’s brought technicolour to her odd make up and bizzare culinary creations such as garishly colour dyed piped mashed potato and odd things suspended in bowls of yellow aspic. Whilst she may have reigned on TV and been of huge entertainment value her legacy has not stood the test of time. Meanwhile Elizabeth David, was creating a revolution in food.
Elizabeth had toured around the Med and lived in Greece and France. As enthralled and excited as she was by the Mediterranean diet she was as equally appalled with the bland, grey, boring British diet that greeted her on her return to live in austerity London in 1946.. Her book A Book of Mediterranean Food published in 1950, was transformational. It introduced austerity Britain to the vibrancy and colour of the Med diet; garlic, pasta, lemons, fresh herbs, brie, cous cous, peppers, olive oil… along with recipes for such exotic delights as moules marinières and spanakopita, bouillabaisse and brandade, boeuf en daube and dolmades. She became a revered and go-to spark of inspiration for chefs. Her journalistic skills brought the pages to life and she followed her initial book success with a series of similar acclaimed, inspirational titles.
Her friend and contemporary was fellow journalist Jane Grigson who wrote classics about British and French food; Fish Cookery (1973), English Food (1974), The Mushroom Feast (1975), Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book (1978) and Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book (1982). An early critic of battery farming, she cared passionately about such things as provenance too; things that resonate very strongly with my personal ethos.
About this time Nigella Lawson’s mentor Anna Del Conte was making her mark. Having moved to the UK from Italy after the War she too found the British diet dull and wrote the classics Portrait of Pasta (1976), followed by Classic Italian Cookbook (1984) for a British readership and The Gastronomy of Italy (1984).
In 1960, the amazing Pru Leith moved to London from South Africa, attended the Cordon Bleu Cookery School and soon set up Leith's Good Food, a party and event catering business. In 1969, she opened Leith's restaurant which won her a Michelin star at a time when Britain held but a handful. By1975, she had founded Leith's School of Food and Wine which became the UK equivalent of the Cordon Bleu, training professional chefs and amateur cooks. In 1993 she sold the school which by then had grown to have a turnover of £15 million. As a business woman and cook Pru is incredible. Little wonder she was named Veuve Cliquot Business Woman of the Year in 1990, has been awarded 13 Honorary University Degrees an OBE and CBE.
The fabulous Mary Berry mustn’t and couldn’t be left from this list. She has published over 70 books following her first, The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook, published in 1970. She is an inspiration to millions with her foolproof recipe’s with clear instructions and a regular on TV.
The names Delia and Nigella have become Mononymous, ie, Delia Smith and Nigella Lawson have both become so successful that you don’t even need to mention their second name.
Delia’s recipes are to this day, delicious, failsafe classics. Delia was omniprescent in magazines, through her books and on our TV screens from the late seventies up until her last book in 2009. The ‘Delia Effect’, was one of a trust so powerful that when she started using coiled mini whisks they sold out the next day. When her BBC How to Cook programme was first aired in 1998, supermarkets recorded an increase in sales of 1.3 million eggs the next day. Elizabeth David and Anna Del Conte may have introduced us to the concept of the likes of balsamic vinegar, but when Delia used it, it flew off the shelves. Another very clever business woman, Delia co-founded Sainsbury’s magazine and has the majority shareholding in her beloved Norwich City FC.
Nigella, Domestic Goddess, took over Delia’s culinary mantle, first appearing on TV in 1998. Her vampish profile belies her phenomenal, achievable recipes and she currently still reigns supreme. Think the vogue for spiced baked cauliflower is new? Check out Nigella Bites, she was championing it in her first book back in 1991. Her journalistic skill empowers her with a descriptive writing style that is as delicious and luminary as her recipe’s.
All of these women are inspirational, quite brilliant and clever. In this celebratory, centenary year of women having won the fight to get the right to vote I would argue that rather than being enslaved by the kitchen it has been a forum in which women have for over 160 years, shown themselves to lead, enlighten, inspire and excel.
Ask most male chefs who was their cooking inspiration and, certainly in the case of Raymond Blanc, James Martin and Marco Pierre White, it was their mother or grandmother. For me, I am delighted to say it was my mum as she always cooked amazing food and taught me the basics to build from.
Who feeds your inspiration?
Host the party everyone will remember!
The 1920’s provides a fabulous theme for a fantastically glamourous party, and will be the party everyone remembers forever!
Set the scene
To create the intimate setting of a salubrious speakeasy, cover furniture and 21st Century items in dark velvet, faux fur and luxurious fabrics. Subdue the lighting using small table lamps and (fake) candles in old liquour bottles. Gather small tables to sit around and play silent black and white movies on the TV.
If it is at home fill your bath with ice and store your drinks in it – instant ‘bathtub gin’.
Hide cocktail menus inside old books and serve all your drinks in crystal glasses and tea cups. Silver and glass platters should be used for canapes, and dress bartenders in uniform.
Plan the arrival
To begin, the entrance to your venue needs to be subtle. Use a side entrance or a flag to show where the party is. A gruff bouncer on the door would add authenticity, but the most important part of arrival is a secret code to gain entry. Often guests would arrive with a book so if the authorities turned up they could pretend it was a book club with their tea cups!
Don’t forget to add any secret entry codes to the invitations – which should be black and white art deco, with instructions for the dress code too.
Food and drinks
Most of today’s cocktails were invented in the 1920’s, mixed to hide the awful taste of bathtub gin and moonshine, so anything goes. Preferable are those with raunchy names like between the sheets!
The important thing is to serve them in secret – you could be raided at any time. Fill those teapots and vases with ice!
Canapes are the perfect party food for an evening speakeasy, as most people will have had dinner before they come. How about bagels for later to soak up the moonshine!
The 1920s saw the height of New Orleans and Chicago styles of jazz, sandwiched between the Dixieland sound of the 1900s and the Swing era of the 1930s. Fill your playlist with authentic 1920’s sounds: pianist and bandleader Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, pianist Earl Hines, pianist James P. Johnson, and saxophonist-clarinetist Sidney Bechet.
If you have the budget, the sound of a live upbeat jazz band will add a wonderful energy to your evening! A pianist, with a singing Sheba, is also rather swanky.
Dress to impress
The 1920’s was a significant period of change for women, in fashion and role. They drank, smoked danced and voted. Think glamourous beauty, sequins and tassels, heavy makeup, feather boas and pearls.
Some speakeasies were used as homes and offices by gangsters, who adopted an extravagant lifestyle. Successful gangsters could be identified by their fashionable silk suits, expensive jewellery, and guns, hidden in violin cases! Men – you can’t put on any old ragsthink Jay Gatsby in Tuxedo’s and spats, or baggy trousers and braces.
Why, the Charleston of course Darling!
For tea cups, props, canapes and waitressing for your speakeasy party contact Room Forty Afternoon Teas on 01925 357940 www.roomforty.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
The history, in a very little nutshell.
In January 1920 the US government banned the manufacture and sale of alcohol. Driving production and consumption underground, and giving rise to gangsters such as the notorious Al Capone. The problem was, America’s boundaries are so big and gangsters so powerful, that their success in out manoeuvring the few prohibition enforcement officers became notorious.
In 1929 the government realised that prohibition was not working and in 1933 Congress repealed the law in the 21st Amendment.
Lucky girl that I am, I visited Rome recently and in the interests of research (of course) and desperate for a cuppa found myself in Babington’s Tea Rooms at the foot of the Spanish Steps. It has been there since 1893 having been founded by two Englishwomen and claims to have served luminaries including Keats and Shelley who were also, presumably, desperate for a cuppa. It’s well worth a visit. Entering feels like stepping back in time and into another world. From the noisy hubbub of Piazza di Spagna and the heat that bounces up from the stone, inside is an oasis; dark, calm and cool. They serve lovely loose leaf teas even if they have some rather odd ideas about toasting scones and, be warned, it isn’t cheap at 36 Euro for a cream tea for two.
I loved the food in Rome and was excited to sample the focaccia and pick up some tips. Immodest though it may sound, I think that our recipe for focaccia is infinitely superior to any that I tasted there and we’ll teach you to make it on our Stage II bread class this Sunday, or on 1 October if you are free?
Did you know that its National Picnic week starting today? [18 June] It’s one of my favourite weeks in the foodie celebration calendar. Even the word ‘picnic’ still evokes the same rush of excitement in me as it did when I was a child. A picnic is an adventure and conjures up romantic, fantasy images of The Famous Five, gingham napkins, sunshine, sandwiches, fizzy pop, cakes, flasks of tea, picnic blankets and Tupperware. Who else remembers picnics on the beach and the crunch of sandwiches with real sand that had somehow found its way into all of them - eughhh.
The picnic is synonymous with summer, although I’ve enjoyed them even in the depths of winter albeit snuggled up in the car, and sunshine (but who hasn’t had to sprint to the car dragging and dropping plates, cups and food when the heavens have opened!)
I like to think that afternoon tea is a slightly more genteel, indoor version of a picnic. Again it’s a celebration event with loved ones with refined sandwiches, cakes and tea. All the fun only without rain and wind, swatting wasps and having real sand in the sandwiches!
This weekend the weather is set to sizzle, so get your hamper and blanket and get out and about in the beautiful Cheshire countryside. Sand optional.
If you would like a picnic style afternoon tea this summer, let us know, we would be happy to cater for it. Jen, 01925 357940 www.roomforty.co.uk email@example.com
Happy International Women’s Day from Room Forty Afternoon Tea! This year’s focus is on ‘purposeful collaboration to help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.’
But how does this translate in Warrington and is it actually possible to collaborate and succeed in the current economic climate, with Brexit and uncertainty looming on the horizon, or is everyone watching their own back?
How much are we prepared to promote others, and risk our customers placing their order with the person we’re working with rather than us, and is it a risk worth taking?
My own experience with Room Forty is that of a fabulous collaborative culture in existence in Warrington. I can’t count the number of people, male and female who have given me advice, support and encouragement for no benefit to themselves, just to help a green shoot grow and flourish.
The generosity of strangers as I took my first nervous steps into networking has been enormously encouraging, and boosted my confidence to explore and begin collaborating with businesses to help them grow too.
It is with this rather gung-ho and positive, ‘let’s share the opportunities’ that I take all my business opportunities, and I’m delighted that in response several businesses have asked me to be involved in their projects, or have recommended Room Forty to their friends and customers, and the snowball effect is incredible.
One such business, is Sewing Bee Sanctuary, who approached me following my Artisan Feel Good Fayre in Lymm in December. Rebecca loved the Room Forty concept and is passionate about teaching people to learn to sew. We got together for a cup of tea and, within an hour had planned a fantastic craft-ernoon tea on 2 April (11am, 1pm and 3pm) l, where guests will enjoy a two hour sewing lesson, taking their fully lined home made bag home, followed by afternoon tea with bubbles!
What followed next was an introduction by Rebecca to Barbara at her gorgeous new shop in Lymm, Laurel House Interiors and Gifts. With three heads now collaborating we were all fired up for how sharing our businesses together could benefit all of us and the village of Lymm, keeping footfall strong. The open evening last week where we all showed our businesses was a great success and we hope to repeat it again in the coming months.
And so it goes on, and there’s so many more women that have encouraged me to #beboldforchange; from the friends who call on a Tuesday (the day when I generally feel overwhelmed!) to those that spark new ideas and share their talents.
My next collaboration will be amazing, and really fits with International Women’s Day! Kirsty James from Colony Networking approached me to help launch her first female run, female led network for, you guessed it, women only, Colony Women. It’s not that I don’t think that mixed networking is great – I do, and I have made a lot of new male and female connections and friends through it. But because this network will focus solely on women, it hosts inspirational speakers who aim to inspire, motivate and propel women in business with great key note speakers such as Jo Howarth from the Happiness Club. My involvement? Well, Kirsty is planning a creative and interactive twist on each of the events. The first is called tea with a twist, so there’s your hint!
Tea with a Twist will take place on the afternoon of 30 March at The Base, opposite central station. Tickets are available from www.colonynetworking.co.uk
Having the courage to be bold, open up, share, support and encourage fellow women in business has been empowering. I’ll certainly be continuing to #BeBoldForChange and champion collaboration and the rewards and friendship it brings.
How will you #BeBoldForChange today?
Jen Perry; loves discovering beautiful vintage china, eating cake and drinking proper tea.