Alison Martindale, from Thornton-le-dale, set up her rather delicious catering business, The Willows Catering Co, just over 3 years ago. It’s gone from strength to strength, with her taking over 70 bookings alone last year.
Alison told me how she’s always dreamed of owning her own business and naturally as she’d previously completed a degree in hospitality management and had moved on to working within the trade: Events admin, events coordinator, general manager of a local pub (The White Swan, Pickering) then on to becoming a cluster manager for York’s 3 Cornish Pasty Co shops, it totally makes sense that her chosen area for her this would be catering.
So after 20 years of experience and knowledge in the trade, Alison felt maybe the time had arrived, it felt right, if she was going to own her own business she’d do it now! Crazily, (I love this bit) she turned to eBay, yes eBay. She took a giant leap of faith. Cleverly, buying just what she’d need to run her own business, a refurbished mobile catering unit. The unit literally has everything you need to cook up a storm and the beauty of it being mobile is The Willow Catering Co can go anywhere, smart thinking.
Naming the business The Willows Catering Co was an easy decision for Alison; she’s one of three girls and grew up on a farm. She told me it would be doubtful that the family farm would remain in the family for much longer now, with sadly no son or willing son-in-law to pass it onto. Thoughtfully, Alison wanted to honour the name of her childhood home, The Willows, thus The Willows Catering Co was born. I love a good story behind the name of a company.
The Willows Catering Co offers a wide range of event catering in the Ryedale and Scarborough area: Weddings, canapés and receptions, private parties, agricultural shows, outdoor cinemas and even vintage tractor weekends! I think Alison would be happy to cover most things and I know she gets a buzz of being somewhere different be it midweek or every weekend, she likes the diversity of the people she gets to work with and the excitement of being in different locations. So far The Willows Catering Co have catered in: marquees, farmyards, at Dalby Forest, aerodromes and the list goes on. Whatsmore the type of foods she offers is endless, from bacon rolls and coffee to fabulous dressed buffets and gourmet burgers, Alison will do her best to meet your needs. Plus, she always where possible, uses local produce and ingredients, as she’s passionate about supporting small local business’ too.
When I asked Alison about what she enjoys about running her own business more she told me: “The intrigue of seeing what the next enquiry is going to be and where! Being completely flexible to the customer’s requirements and meeting the most genuine, lovely people along the way.” I know Alison, who is please with how the business has progressed so far, is looking forwards to seeing where it will lead her next.
I worked with Alison a couple of time last year at weddings, where I got to sample her food, and I can 100% tell you that her food and services is 10/10. I never saw her without a friendly smile of her face and she could never do enough for you, that goes for her lovely team too. I was also lucky enough to accompany The Willows Catering Co to a shoot lunch a couple of weeks ago to take some photos of her in action, a level headed and calm woman she is: Even in a freezing-cold corn shed on top of a hill, in Thorton-le-dale as it snowed outside the smile was there on her’s and Urzella’s faces. They made me warm coffee to keep me toasty and offered to feed me the delicious beef stew she was serving. Shame I had another appointment. I’m fingers crossed, looking forwards to working with The Willows Catering Co again this year, so if you have something to celebrate get in touch with Alison asap, I know she’ll be eager to assist you if she’s free.