Restaurant-calibre meal kits

Chef Alice Norman is inspired by the ingredients that surround her. Her new business, Pinch, is an organic restaurant-calibre meal kit service based in Suffolk, home to some of the best producers in the UK.

Her story is constantly evolving, enjoy our conversation with her and be sure to check out Pinch’s sell-out ice cream and mouthwatering crullers, which are often served on our small trays.

You have spent time cooking around the world, do you have a favourite spot?
My favourite spots have always been by the coast or in places where you can walk from the kitchen to the ingredient. I briefly worked in Goa where you could find curry leaves, peppercorns, coconuts and cardamom grown in the garden. You could also see the sea from the kitchen veranda. The fishermen would drive up with their catch on a motorbike in the morning and you could take your pick! We ate a lot of kingfish, prawns and pomfret.

You often use Falcon enamelware at PINCH. What’s your favourite product and what do you use it for?

I'm not sure if this is a very romantic thing to say, but one of my favourite things about Falcon is that you can be pretty clumsy without it breaking. I don't like the old fashioned heavy ceramic mixing bowls a la Delia Smith, neither do I love the look of the stainless steel mixing bowls. Falcon is somewhere in between the two.
I use the pigeon coloured prep set every day. It's stackable, practical and looks beautiful. I also give my customers the choice of using the samphire green rectangular plates for the crullers, they're pretty handy as you can fit two per plate, which is the recommended portion per person.

Do you have a favourite cookbook at the moment?
Technically it's more of a gardening book, but Anna Greenland's 'Grow Easy' is a fantastic introduction to growing veg. At the moment, I only have a basic understanding of soil and growing, but when I have my own garden, I know Anna's book will be the perfect way to figure out what's what. Anna (who is angel-like, by the way) also lives in Suffolk - we're very lucky to have her here!

Are there any other local companies you'd like to shoutabout? Where do you usually eat, drink, and source ingredients in your local area?
I get all of my veg, flour and eggs where I'm based at Maple Farm. I'm not used to cooking with such fresh eggs, they are perfect for poaching. My favourite dairy farm in the whole world is Fen Farm, which is about half an hour from Pinch. I use their mascarpone for tiramisu and am developing a butterscotch ice cream with their buttermilk. However, my number one Suffolk product has to be St Jude cheese made by Julie Cheyney at Fen Farm. It's incredibly versatile - I mainly use it in sweet things like my St Jude + blackcurrant ripple ice cream. It's a very special product.
We're also lucky to have Pump St Bakery down the road - that's where I go for the best pain au raisin. If it's a sunny day, you can walk down to the quay and eat your pastries looking over the water. I also use their chocolate in my cooking (try making chocolate nemesis with it - incredible).

How have you been keeping during this time? Do you have any tips for small business owners or those starting out?
I'm very happy with my decision to move to Suffolk, I'd have a lot more anxiety if I had set up a food business back in London. I barely have time off, but when I do, it's nice to be in the calm of the countryside. It's also easier to form proper relationships with the producers, which is very important to me.
I don't think I'm established enough to give business tips yet, but what I would say is if something doesn't feel right, learn to move on from it. It's close to impossible to make good money in food, so if you're not enjoying what you're doing, it's probably better to pivot. I started by making meal kits but, due to the logistics, I very quickly found it a painful process. When I started making ice cream and crullers to go, I realised that being able to see the customers' reaction to my food was an important part of cooking for others.


White with Blue Rim Serving Tray

Coal Black Teapot

Pigeon Grey Mug


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