Meet the Grape and Grain Catering Co. Team: Gillian Moss
Our ‘Meet the Team’ blog returns with an insight into our Executive Chef, Gillian Moss. Gill joined us with a mass of catering experience in October 2016, after working for DeVere Whites and Titanic Hotel.
Gill leads the Grape and Grain team and runs the production kitchen for the company, based at Victoria Warehouse. With years of experience in menu writing, event preparation and kitchen service; Gill was the perfect addition to a brand new company and has continued to grow the reputation and experience to date.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Grape and Grain?
After discovering designer hand bags at the age of 16, I realised I needed a part time job to be able to fund my new found love! I started working in an Italian restaurant 4 nights a week, at this point still thinking I wanted a career as an international interpreter. But after working in the kitchen for a few months, I really started to enjoy the atmosphere and thrill of cooking. This experience encouraged me to join catering college and pursue a career as a chef. I completed study in 2001 and got my first full time role as a Commis Chef at DeVere Whites, Bolton. I worked here for 15 years and throughout that time worked my way up the ladder and eventually gained a Head Chef title. The rest is history!
What made you want to work for Grape and Grain Catering Co.?
The role really attracted me from a personal development and challenge perspective. Grape and Grain Catering Co. was a brand new business and I joined right at the beginning with no full time catering team, no production kitchen and no set menus. Myself, the managing director and the catering manager began to build these things slowly but surely, and developed the glowing reputation over the years.
We can host a variety of different event styles, which is what excites me the most about my job. In previous jobs, the role was always pretty standardised, but here I get the opportunity to really put my stamp on things. From private dining experiences for 10, to award dinners for 1,500; we try to work with each client to not only meet their needs – but think outside of the box. The more adventurous the better! We’re always up for the challenge!
What was your most memorable event of 2019?
We’ve had so many wonderful and unique events over the years, but I think one of my clear favourites has to be the Lake District wedding we catered for back in August 2019. It was so different to anything we’ve done before, and the stunning surroundings made it all the more enjoyable and satisfying to work.
The couple discovered Grape and Grain through social media, as they lived across the pond in America. They were a pleasure to work with, and they had a clear vision of exactly what they wanted from the very beginning.
It was an event that the entire team could get involved in, working closely with the Bride and Groom to design their ideal wedding menu and also deliver it in the casual dining style that they preferred. The wedding breakfast took place outside, under a marquee within the grounds of a stunning lake house; so there were plenty of logistics we needed to work out in order to run the event smoothly and efficiently.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
If you asked me this question five years ago, it would have been completely different; but nowadays the biggest challenge has to be allergens, dietaries and ‘fad’ diets. As much as some guests have very serious allergies which must to be accommodated, the struggle tends to be associated with the trends that are circulating at any one time. Diet plans, cutting out certain foods or just trying veganism for a month – these sometimes temporary choices do have a huge effect on service.
I feel it’s going to restrict a lot of chefs in what they can put on their menus; to ensure every requirement for an event is covered. I can’t see this easing up either – as I’ve seen a continuous growth over the past couple of years.
What would you say is your favourite dish on our menus?
I don’t necessarily enjoy just one or two dishes from our menus; or even one particular menu style. I love that with Grape and Grain Catering, everything is bespoke; so we can constantly deliver new and unique menus to suit each client based on their requirements and requests. Every day is different, and we will always encourage our clients to step outside the box.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love to travel; so with any time off or planned annual leave, I take the opportunity to jump on a plane and go somewhere hot! I always like to plan my trips in advance so that I can find the best restaurants and eateries to make reservations before my arrival. My favourite culinary experience so far has been at BEAT restaurant at The Cookbook Hotel in Valencia, Spain; ran by Jose Manuel Miguel. It has one Michelin star, and is currently running for their second. Everything was perfect; from the atmosphere, to the food, to the staff. I would highly recommend to anyone travelling to this location.
What’s your favourite dish to make at home?
Now and again, I love to treat myself to a delicious meal that takes me a bit more time and thought to prepare. During the week when I’m at work running events and preparing for events in the product kitchen, I rarely get time to cook up something special at home.
I recently made chicken breast with truffle mash, sugar snap peas and chestnut mushrooms. It was so tasty, and even more rewarding when you make it yourself; so I would always encourage you to give something a go! A great tip for this dish is to sear the chicken in a pan before putting it into the oven. The crispy skin gives a great flavour and helps to seal in the moisture.
What tip would you give our followers when cooking at home?
Don’t be afraid to try new things – try experimenting with spices, flavours and random ingredients. It is so easy to make the same familiar dishes, week in and week out, because you really don’t need to give it any extra thought. Step out of your comfort zone!
Another tip I always live by is the cost of ingredients. Don’t be fooled by the price tag – just because something is more expensive, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily any better to taste. Sometimes people are put off by the cost of ingredients to avoid trying something new – but don’t be fooled, the possibility is always there.
What nationality is your favourite type of food?
I think the classic French style is my favourite, and this is simply because a lot of their cuisine and basic recipes have influenced the UK and the rest of world to experiment with further. Croissants for example, are now enjoyed savoury and sweet; with a variety of different fillings. The Stroganoff sauce is used as a good base for a number of dishes, sauces and fillings. I guess I just really appreciate the tasty inventions they’ve given to the food world.
What is your favourite thing about working for Grape and Grain Catering?
It’s definitely the opportunity to work in different venues and locations all the time. You meet different people, discuss different foods, given different event briefs; and this ever-changing job is what keeps it so fresh and exciting for me and my team. It’s very easy to stay static in one kitchen, with the same menu and the same faces every single day – but the ability to make every week different certainly keeps me motivated.
Why not visit our Instagram account and scroll through some of our delicious dishes… if you haven’t eaten your lunch yet, be warned!