Julie Friend

Julie Friend

Julie Friend was one of the first winners of BBC MasterChef back in 1997. Here she tells us a little about what she’s been up to and her connection with myself and TOFS



“I moved from London to Kent a few years back and first met Ben at his pop-up supper clubs at TOFS. It seemed to be the only venue locally, that had got that London vibe I still craved, although since then, the whole town has developed a real food culture about it. The minute I witnessed the style and flavours of Ben’s food, I knew we’d get along. Like me he wants to have fun whilst working, so spending time in the kitchen with him is always upbeat, although he has the best poker face too, so permanently catches me out with little ‘pranks’ (I’ll get you one day Sulston). Ben is all about the flavour and quality of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients – an ethos I love.

          My food career has taken a winding journey since winning MasterChef back in 1997. I have taught cookery, run my own delis and catering business, been a private chef to TV stars and MP’s, and helped small food businesses set up – a real eclectic mix. Now I spend my time on food writing (for Kent Life and Italia Magazine), product development, chef work and supper clubs.   Occasionally you’ll find me at TOFS covering Ben while he takes a well deserved holiday and also at my supper clubs in his old Sulston’s site.   I started the series of Cookbook Supper clubs, as I realised, I had this huge collection of books from which I rarely made the actual recipes. As a chef you tend to use them for reference or inspiration but I wanted to start making the exact dishes and sharing my experiences with others who may also be fans of the author/chef or who may just want to try something new.   The evenings are relaxed and informal and I not only cook for the guests but also discuss cooking tips and share foodie stories and adventures with them. It’s like one big dinner party except you leave us to do the washing up!   I am so grateful for the friendship and connections I have made with Ben and of course, Sam, through TOFS and am excited for what we can do together in the future – Ben and I are hatching plans for a real ‘smoke and mirrors’ Heston Blumenthal extravaganza….so watch this space!”
Development at TOFS

Development at TOFS

The story so far………

It has been an amazing first 6 months as Development Chef at The Old Fire
Station. We have already achieved so much as a team and on a personal level I
have been able to create lots of new recipes and concepts for all aspects of TOFS
from the café to events and pop ups all the way through to private dining

Some simple but important developments are that we now bake our own TOFS
cookies fresh every Wednesday morning, which are proving a huge hit. We also
now make our own triple chocolate brownie and flapjacks that are perfect
snacks on the go or to have in the café with your tea and coffee. All these recipes
have been evolved in house, which has meant the staff doing lots of taste testing

Working with Jordan (Team America) for the opening of the new café, his love
for BBQs inspired me to me revisit some of my old recipes. I have created some
new TOFS products such as our BBQ sauce, pickled slaw and BBQ seasoning that
all now form an integral part of our events and feature in our Friday TOFS
burgers. The burgers have become the perfect end to the working week for
many! We create a new burger each week so stay tuned to our social media to
find out what the burger will be each Friday!

I love using favorite recipes I have developed over my career such as my
Christmas stollen. We serve this to all our Christmas party guests with coffee. I
have picked up some very special recipes along my journey from some amazing
chefs that simply don’t need any more development, like the lemon tart from
Ockenden Manor in West Sussex and the beef and saffron risotto from Graze in
Brighton both of which feature on TOFS function menus.

I am delighted to have launched TOFS Development Kitchen in the old Sulston’s
Kitchen location. It provides other chefs with a platform to showcase their skills
and test out new concepts. Recent examples include Rob Dant and Natalia
Gonzalez with their Super Natural Supper Club – the perfect combination of
beautiful food and wine. Julie Friend has created a real buzz with her monthly
Cook Book Supper Clubs – cooking recipes from books that have influenced her
over the years. The famous Ottolenghi is the focus of her next supper club in
January. We are so lucky to have the Master Chef winner cooking regularly for us
here in Tonbridge. I’m passionate about bringing the communities of Tonbridge
together through the love of food.

I look forward to the next 6 months at TOFS. We have lots of plans across the
business and will be introducing new menu items and products including a
Toblerone croissant for the cafe!!!

For more info on up and coming events at the Development Kitchen and at TOFS
head to The Old Fire Station website.