Junior’s Pantry, which launched last year, makes specialist ready meals for children. We caught up with Kate, its founder, to learn a little bit more about why she started it, what her favourite foods are, and what makes her tick in the kitchen…
When did you start Junior’s Pantry and why?
I started Junior’s Pantry in March 2011 after getting fed up of running a canteen at home. I was cooking from scratch twice a night for my children and then my husband. When I looked I discovered that there were no healthy meals available for children of a primary school age, plenty of toddler food and adult food but nothing that catered to a child’s tastes.
What makes Junior’s Pantry different?
All our dishes are fresh and handmade, each dish has at least one portion of veg and they are made just like you would make them at home. Nothing nasty added, just good fresh ingredients. Our recipes are slightly more adventurous to give children a broader range of tastes – our Chicken and Prawn Paella is our bestseller.
You used to work in the City – why did you decide to go into a career in food?
I actually started my career as a cook and then a pastry and dessert chef but I realised early on that whilst I can cook well I was never going to have a life in a professional kitchen. The hours are awful and the stress during service is immense and the pay, well when I was working, it was not good. But being able to cook is a fantastic skill to have and one you don’t lose. I ended up in the City in a Sales role which I loved, but it became tougher and tougher to juggle with a growing family and in the end I realised that I couldn’t do it all.
Who taught you to cook?
Although my parents are both good cooks I didn’t really learn at home, I wasn’t interested. But when I realised learning to cook could give me the chance to live in a Ski Resort I soon changed my mind. I went to The Cordon Bleu School in London and did an intensive training course there – it was tough and actually not terribly enjoyable but it got me where I needed to be.
What do you love most about cooking?
I love the fact that when you’re cooking something for the first time and following a recipe you become completely absorbed in it and all the stresses of the day disappear. I love cooking for friends and chatting whilst chopping and stirring. Cooking professionally has given me a lot of confidence so I love having people in my kitchen not enjoying themselves in the other room!
What’s your favourite thing to make?
That’s a tough question as I can’t think what I don’t like making, I do love making scones and doing daring stuff like soufflés.
And to eat?
This is even tougher; I love family roasts and I love cold meat, so a piece of Roast Gammon that you can then eat for days on end.
You wouldn’t know it, but I… have my motorbike licence and until last year rode a 600cc bike.
The greatest meal in the world is… one that you share with friends and family
The meaning of life is… this is your one life, grasp it with both hands and make the most of it.
If I could have one wish it would be… to build my dream home.
The most amazing feeling in the world is… a cuddle from your children.
My favourite place is… Zermatt, I worked there for 6 months and loved it, I adore the mountains and one day my husband has promised to take me back!
My earliest foodie memory is… burning my tongue on Ready Brek, I never ate it again and have never managed to eat Porridge either
The best advice I was ever given is/was… never, ever give in.
You can buy Junior’s Pantry meals from Ocado.