Community cafe, bistro & so much more
Tucked behind Hills Road Sports Centre is Cambridge Cookery (once the Cambridge Cookery School). It has been operating successfully for over 10 years, running cooking classes and events for business as well as the domestic market. In 2015 it opened as a community café and bistro and rapidly assimilated within this new residential area. A conversation with founder and owner Tine Roche revealed a pin sharp philosophy behind the café and the cookery school, one that supports their food and cooking ethos, but also defines the wider role food can play in driving a more sustainable way of life.
With a Danish and Swedish upbringing, Tine embraces concepts that have found fashion in the UK in recent years. “Hygge” is a word that rolled across the English lexicon a few short years ago, with its connotations of warmth, comfort and cosiness, and the pursuit of homespun pleasures. The Swedish “fika” is less well known, referring to the Scandinavian devotion to great home baking and making time to enjoy it. These concepts are central to Cambridge Cookery, and Tine’s belief that “all of the ills of the world can be resolved through home cooking”.
Grounded in food culture
Having learned to cook at the knee of her Swedish mother and her grandmother, Tine is well grounded in food culture. And as a former food consultant, travelling the world on the lookout for trends in cooking and eating, she has a sharp eye for a good idea. “I was in San Francisco 15 years ago and saw these people learning to cook on the water front” she tells me. “I saw the pleasure they got from what they were learning in this great environment”.
By 2006 Tine, now living in Cambridge, had enrolled in the Leiths School of Food and Wine. She started out running cooking classes in her home or hiring village halls for kids’ classes. Then in 2008 space became available in an old warehouse on Purbeck Road, near where the school is based today. She fitted a kitchen within this vast space and started to cook. Cambridge Cookery now teaches a triumvirate of individuals, kids’ groups and corporate clients. Their needs differ, but Tine’s philosophy runs through everything she does, both in the school and in the café and bistro that opened alongside it in 2015.
A philosophy based in honesty and knowledge
Honesty and knowledge are central to the philosophy of Cambridge Cookery. “I have no patience for these fads that pop up every few months, telling us what we can and can’t eat” she tells me. “Once it was the Atkins diet that demonised carbs, then it was no salt, no gluten, now it’s clean eating”. Tine is one of the biggest proponents of plant-based food: “60-70% of our food is plant-based” she tells me. “We still serve meat, but we source from people I trust, who will treat their livestock naturally and with care”.
Sustainability is another priority for Cambridge Cookery. What does she mean by this? “We only get food from people who manage their land carefully, who allow it to recover rather than forcing it to produce through intensive farming”. Small, local suppliers are the mainstay of her operation, and even then only when she is sure that their priorities and hers match. A fan of organic produce it sits behind food provenance in order of importance.
Classes, café and community
The mainstay of Cambridge Cookery remains its cooking classes, in particular its corporate clients, nearly all local and far sighted businesses that use cooking as a way to bond and entertain its staff. “Astra Zeneca are one of our many regulars” says Tine “and yesterday we had one of the teams from Addenbrooke’s here for a chocolate Master class”.
The café opened in 2015 in the old Rattee & Kett stone masons building. Initially it helped to showcase the cookery school, “but now it provides a true community resource, like a pub would once have done”. The café is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 3pm, melding fika with an Italian and middle eastern bent, and serving much baked produce from their micro-bakery. On Saturday evening they run a restaurant, while on Friday evening a wine bar serves “leftovers”. Better than it sounds, their creative chefs create innovative and delicious dishes to accompany a great wine list.
Zero waste – a first in Cambridge
This January, their focus on avoiding food waste made them the first zero food waste business in Cambridge.
When Tine realised that much of their suppliers’ superb produce went to waste as soon as it lost its initial shine and crunch, she arranged for it to come instead to Cambridge Cookery. Here it is combined with their own very limited bits and pieces that remain from the cafe, and is turned into 30 meals for Jimmy’s Night Shelter every Friday. “We even minimise our carbon footprint” says Tine “as we get it delivered by ‘Tesla Tim’ who came to our aid when he saw my plea on Facebook”.
Cambridge Cookery sits proudly within this new community, serving local customers with great food, coffee and wine. It provides a fantastic resource for anyone interested in cooking and cooking skills. And it is becoming a figurehead for the local businesses and restaurants who work with them.
Pop along for a cup of tea and a Turkish egg and see what the fuss is about. Find out more about Cambridge Cookery here