The launch on Saturday was packed with diners enjoying a menu ranging from traditional pork medallions and rib-eye steaks to boerewors, the traditional sausage from Hilde-Marie’s native South Africa.
“It was quite nerve wracking,” said apprentice Ellie Mills, aged 18, from Seasalter. “But it was such a buzz to see everyone enjoying the food and wines. Now I’m hooked! My first day at work was a complete surprise as I was on the Pat Marsh Show on BBC Radio Kent with Hilde-Marie, but now I’m back down to earth & loving all the hard work.”
Ellie is the first of 23 apprentices that will learn everything from cooking and waiting on tables to sourcing the best ingredients, upkeep and maintenance of a kitchen garden, sales and marketing techniques and front-of-house.
Paul Andrews, founder of Jobs In Kent and a former Kent Entrepreneur of the Year, said the restaurant is a fantastic opportunity for young people to launch a career in the food industry, speaking at the launch.
“I really would ask everyone to come out and support this restaurant,” said Paul. “Having eaten here take it from me you’ll have top-notch nosh, unbeatable value for money, and you get to leave feeling that you’ve done something worthwhile.”
The restaurant is now open Fridays & Saturday from 10am to 11pm and Sundays 10am to 3pm in the grounds of the Abbey School, Faversham, less than a mile from the junction with the A2.
As well as helping aspiring caterers, the launch night raised much-needed funds for the Pilgrims Hospice in Canterbury through a charity raffle with prizes donated by Riverford Organic’s Kent distributers, sisters Liz & Caroline Asteraki, from Old Wives Leas, Canterbury, & Charing, Ashford. The fund-raising will continue with a challenge to think up the best name for Hilde-Marie’s three-foot tall cuddly Meerkat given by Pilgrim’s Hospice, who will remain in residence at HMS at The Abbey until December to raise as much cash as possible for Pilgrim’s Hospice.
Alongside Hilde-Marie is head chef, Will Britton, age 27, from Ashford. Will said:
“The build up to this has been so exciting & on the night the team worked hard & I’m still buzzing with adrenaline.”
Hilde-Marie, 40, came to England from South Africa in 1996. She established her company in 2004 after working as a chef manager for Roux Fine Dining in Mayfair, cooking for directors of a top bank. Catering4Kent supplies its own fresh produce – supplemented where necessary from an organic producer in Chartham. All of the meat & fish is sourced locally.
“I didn’t sleep a wink before the launch,” says Hilde-Marie.“It was wonderful to see everyone perform so well on the day and so many local people supporting the project.”
Along with full-time apprenticeships, Hilde-Marie also offers day courses including sugar craft, bread making, Thai & Indian food, foraging, wine appreciation and & many more.
“We have a superb intimate dining space for corporate Christmas parties at reasonable prices with an innovative menu & we can theme them if the client wishes & also supply entertainment.”
She’s also opening the Abbey School for childrens’ parties – making use of the all-weather 3G Football pitch.
*Amount raised in raffle £119 & The Guess The Giant Meerkat will keep going until December. Find him in and around Kent & in residence at HMSAbbey
To book your place at the restaurant opening or for more information about apprenticeships, classes & parties, contact Hilde-Marie on 01233 463298 or visit the website at www.catering4kent.co.uk