It’s not everyday that when you go round to meet someone for the first time they are ready to serve you a wholesome and extremely appetizing brunch. William and Nicola Marsden’s business premises at Pencoose Barn are also home. Catering operations, alongside family life, centre on a long wooden table that runs down the centre of a large and busy kitchen.
On the morning I met them, their youngest child, Tommy, aged one and a half, was happily enjoying a wholesome, fresh-baked roll and, judging by the aroma, I think there may have been an added slight sea-salt crust and hint of rosemary. Nicola regrets that, “My children have to move aside when the serious catering takes over,” and with typical mother’s guilt she berates herself for this. Meanwhile he was busy play cutting a set of plastic fruit and vegetables, while I looked on in awe. An early apprenticeship I supposed?
I’d hoped that I might be lucky enough to be offered a mug of coffee while we were chatting, but instead came the offer of some delicious food. William had just been to collect some bunches of the very first pick of the new season’s local Tregassow Farm asparagus; conveniently placed on the neighbouring hill from their home. I felt favoured indeed. The asparagus was gently steamed and served with Pencoose’s own eggs, lightly poached, and a homemade Hollandaise sauce. Tommy certainly enjoyed his plateful too. Nicola wanted to show me and let me taste a little of what they provide their customers. William had baked fresh tasty bread into a choice of different rolls and mini-loaves and Nicola had made scrummy cake that went down well with fresh coffee. If food speaks better than words, I soon understood exactly how much Pencoose is passionate about cooking. It took no persuasion to sample something of everything. Well, it would be rude not to!
William is knowledgeable about food and an experienced and competent chef. He has cooked in a range of prestigious British restaurants including The Hole in the Wall, Bath, and The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny. Nicola has always loved cooking although her background is in fine art. They are both passionate about using fresh local ingredients sourced from local suppliers for seasonal menus. Free-range meat and poultry is used when available as well as organic vegetables. “We like to buy our vegetables from Cusgarne Organic Farm, Greg and Teresa Pascoe will pick from the fields at the last minute for us,” tells Nicola, “They are as careful with food freshness as we are. We also make everything from scratch. Nothing is bought in. Our own ice-cream, our own bread, it is all homemade,” she explains “We even use our own eggs from our own hens.”
Pencoose Pantry specialize in unique catering. William and Nicola’s take is to be as creative and personal to every type of celebration, party or corporate entertainment they do. “Last year we cooked for family parties that celebrated special birthdays and two Golden wedding anniversaries.” Some of Pencoose’s weddings have included some particularly memorable feasts. “With one we cooked one enormous pan of Paella, with another William had to set up a charcoal pit so that a lamb could slowly roast on a spit,” Nicola relates adding, “We follow people’s personal ideas and plans as well as giving them the benefit of our experience, knowledge, inspiration and a ‘can do’ attitude.” The wedding venues have varied from elegant country houses at The Vean, Caerhays and Scorrier House; to the romantic and wild location at Porth-en-als, Prussia Cove and the beautiful Cornish gardens at Trereife; to cooking in marquees and tepee structures on open fires. Pencoose Pantry are certainly caterers who relish being set a challenge or will happily do things with a twist.
In addition they make crepes at outdoors events throughout the summer. Create delicious dishes for home delivery, can provide hot and cold buffets, or will cook for you in your own kitchen for an impressive dinner party or special occasion. Nothing is pre-prepared for ages in advance, or does it go through being frozen, de-frosting, re-heating and so loosing flavour. “We do all our cooking and assembly on the job,” says William. They have produced sumptuous feasts of barbecued shellfish; authentic Indian dishes with our own roasted spices and wonderful summery English lunches with rare roast beef and Cornish strawberries and clotted cream. If there is one proviso, it is this: the choice is yours.
For more information: Pencoose Pantry, Pencoose Barns, St. Erme, Truro, TR4 9BL