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Nam suscipit libero
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Since letting everyone know about the next chapter in our story – taking the keys to Cornwall Place Kitchen and giving Inspires Dining its first home – we’ve been a little bit overwhelmed by the response. There’s been so much support from people we know and those we’ve yet to meet, which only helps to make this journey even more exciting as it’s great to know that there are people who are interested in what we’re working on.
Thank you so much to everyone who has followed us on Instagram or Facebook and let us know that you’re interested in what we’re working on – it all helps to keep us going and we hope you’re enjoying the updates from our work to get Cornwall Place Kitchen ready and open.
Over the last few months we’ve had a great response to the ventures which started this whole process – IDeli and IDIY – so we’re going to continue them both and, thanks to the space we now have at Cornwall Place Kitchen, we’re looking into ways of expanding our offering.
Our new location in Buckingham gives us space for two really exciting opportunities – we’re currently installing a kitchen upstairs and seating for up to 10 people. This will allow us to offer a uniquely intimate fine dining experience that will have all the quality of a restaurant service but with the friendly feeling of a private party. We’ve been offering this kind of modern high end dining at home for a little over a year now and we’ve had some fantastic services and experiences, so to be able to offer this is something of a dream come true.
Downstairs we’re working on a coffee shop and counter for people to pop in and see us for a drink, a cake or a quick bite to eat. We think that a really good cup of coffee, served exactly how you like it, is actually a really important thing, as it can set you up for the day, bring back a happy memory or give you a great excuse to meet up with someone after a while apart.
With everything that’s been happening in the last few months, we’ve all had to adjust and change the way we do things. Even in the few weeks we’ve been working on Cornwall Place Kitchen, we’ve seen the ‘The Rule of Six’ come into being and a clamp down on larger gatherings. As you can imagine, this has forced us to be flexible and consider how we open and what we offer when we do.
For example, we’ll have space for up to 10 people upstairs, but for a while we can only serve up to six – that’s fine though, as it won’t impact the experience as far as we’re concerned.
In a similar way, our plans for downstairs will need to evolve over time – eventually we’d like to serve food in the evenings and host events here, but for the time being that might be difficult, so we’re going to focus on making the best use of the space we can and ensuring that everyone can feel comfortable with the few tables we have space for.
Overall, we want to offer a warm, friendly and homely experience where the quality of the products we serve can speak for themselves. We want our place to feel like an extension of yours so the relationships that we build up with the people and businesses in our area as almost as important as the food and drink that we want to serve. One of the things that place like Buckingham are so amazing for is the feeling of community and togetherness, which are probably more important now than they have been for a long, long time. We’re really excited about becoming part of that community and growing into our place over time.
We’ve already had a few questions about what we’ll be doing when we open and what to expect. Here’s a few of the most common ones and a couple of answers: –
Where are you going to be?
As in the name, we are based in Cornwall Place, which for those of you unfamiliar is a small shopping walk in Buckingham near Waitrose. There is plenty of parking, we will validate your 50p during the day and if you are walking the dog, bring them too for a puppaccino.
Will you be serving alcohol?
Yes – we’re awaiting confirmation of our change of use and premises licence. We are looking forward to having really cool wine and cocktail pairings with our menus, alongside some cool homemade cordial mixes for the non-drinkers.
When do you think you’ll be open?
We’re currently working hard to try and open at the start of November. The previous tenants of Cornwall Place Kitchen left us something of a blank canvas, which is great as it means we can really make it own – but it does also mean that we have to do everything from scratch, which includes sanding, painting and re-flooring – as well as things that take a bit more lead time, such as installing a kitchen and a counter.
What is your inspiration and what will you be serving?
Above all us, we’re inspired by quality – we want to share great food and drink with the people we meet and we want everyone to share in that experience. We believe in using good local produce from local suppliers as much as possible and we want to ensure that our business and practices are as sustainable as possible. We want to reduce our waste as much as we can, so we like to be creative with the ingredients we buy, looking to make as much of things as possible, so, for example, we might serve special, one-off items in our deli based on ingredients used for a fine dining experience. Reduced waste equals lower costs and better value.
We’ve yet to decide on our menus and exact offerings just yet as we want to get the venue right first. As soon as we’re ready to share what our menus might include, we’ll make sure to keep everyone updated.
How will you be handling the Covid regulations?
Probably the most important thing to remember in this respect is that they are liable to change – we’re trying to make sure that whatever we do, we’re flexible and able to accommodate. For instance, the latest rules say no more than six people and restaurants have to close at 10pm – that’s no problem for us, we’ll reduce our planned capacity upstairs and we’ll ensure that there’s enough room downstairs for everyone to have at least a metre to themselves.
There are so many old cliches about starting something new: one door closes, another opens; turning over a new leaf; laying the foundations for the new home.
We’ve all heard these many times before, but it doesn’t take away the excitement, magnitude or uncertainty of leaving behind that which was familiar in favour of the new and unknown.
Another great cliche currently brewing is that which depicts the year 2020 as one of change, unprecedented change. How many times have we all heard and used that word in recent months?
For us too at Inspires Dining, 2020 will be remembered as a year of huge turmoil – after a number of years working happily and very successfully at The Brasserie at Milton Keynes College, that particular chapter of life has now come to an end. Over the years we’ve delivered many functions, been through seemingly endless changes and served countless hot meals, but most importantly we’ve played a part in changing the lives of dozens of young people. Working in an education environment is an enlightening experience, but that’s even more the case when it’s an industry you care so deeply about and which provides opportunities that were never thought possible.
Many of the students who came to the College’s catering courses arrived with no idea of what they wanted from life – a surprisingly high number of them had little or no interest in catering and there were even some who had no clue where to start. Helping them build their skills, discover their passion and, more often than not, discover their own true identity, is what made all the long hours, stressful meetings and sticky situations worthwhile.
There were many, many good times at The Brasserie – multiple recognitions from industry experts including being named College Restaurant of the Year, winning Milton Keynes’ Restaurant of the Year, mentoring a student to win Young Master Chef of the Year, working with household names and hipster heroes – we packed in a lot of incredible experiences, all of which were for the benefit of the students, but many of which gave us unforgettable memories and unique insights of our own.
We’ve been really lucky to work with some incredibly talented and experienced people in our time at The Brasserie – there’s too many to name them all here and we’d run the risk of leaving some out, but just know that if we’ve worked with you, we loved it, we learned from it and we can’t wait to do it again.
Which kind of brings us to the next stage – the next layer on the cake, if you will. Maybe that cliche won’t stick like the rest.
Life in lockdown was a strange time. The leisure and hospitality industries took a beating and established names in catering were forced to re-think how they run their business in order to survive.
As a burgeoning local business, it was no different for Inspires Dining; we took our passion for locally produced, sustainable products and two new concepts were created: IDIY (we do some of the cooking, you finish it at home and make it look awesome) and IDELI (you did try one of our pies, didn’t you?). Working on getting these two product ranges off the ground gave us something to concentrate on and lit a fire inside – how could we do this every day alongside the intimate fine dining concept that lies at the heart of Inspires Dining?
So we set about finding a way of making the every-now-and-then into every day. We worked on finding a home for Inspires Dining – somewhere we could call our own that would give us the room to think, create and feel, well, inspired.
After looking at a few options, including some serious home renovation projects, we found a place. Cornwall Place. Some of you might know it, others can look forward to getting to know it. Just off the high street in Buckingham, down a little alley way, is where you’ll soon be able to find our place.
We’re currently working on making it just how we want it, with space for George’s intimate fine dining experience upstairs and Sarah’s homely coffee shop down below, so there’s plenty of work to be getting on with at the moment.
You might have seen some of our updates on social media – if not, make sure you follow us to keep up to date with what’s happening and when. We’re hoping to soon be opening our doors to offer perfect, handmade barista coffee in the morning, locally sourced snacks and lunches during the day and contemporary fine dining with the feeling of home in the evening – all underpinned by our passion for inspiring others to become the best they can and our commitment to sustainability and the environment.
There’s a lot to do and we can’t wait to get started for real, but hopefully you’ll join us on the journey and we’ll see you soon at Cornwall Place Kitchen.
George & Sarah, Inspires Dining.