Dining with a difference
PUBLISHED: 15:37 06 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:39 20 February 2013
A renovated cottage in Malmesbury is the area's first pop-up restaurant
Pop-up restaurants. The international trend in modern dining experience that has seen celebrity restaurateurs and amateur cooks alike opening their homes and offeing their food to the public, will later this month hit Malmesbury as the newest service providedby independent catering service provided by independent catering company echo, run by chef Leanne Holman Phillips.
Founded by Leanne in 2003, the business began as a small dinner party service, expanding quickly into the successful catering organisation, popular with weddings and larfe corporate events that is today. Having relocated the company to Malmesbury, Leanne and husband, Jon, have recently renovated a cottage in the town center, amnd see turning their new home into a dining destination for the local communtiy as simply the next step for Echo. "I think the pop-up idea is open to anyone. It's about people who love food showing theirs to other people in a really intimate and informal setting," explains Leanne.
Echo as an eating experience is very much influenced by the practices taken on by Leanne during the time she spent living and working internationally. Working as a sous chef in Chiseldon at 25 , Leanne decided to swap Qiltshire for a sunnier setting and headed across the globe towards Australia. "I wanted to experience life - and food - in a different way, so I went travelling around Australia, picking up jobs as I wen, and eventuallymoved to new ealand to work as a head chef.They have this great cafe culture. It's all abnout enjoyying exciting food in a lively setting."
Returning to the UK in 2001, Leanne found it difficult to find a company she could work with to create food that would celebrate the the energetic, outdoorsy culture that she had encountered in other countries. Without the funds to set up a cafe herself, Leanne's initially small catering venture was a way of bringing together the best parts of food culture in a local setting.
Sourced by local products, for Leanne, the style of cooking which has made Echo such a success is all about the ecperience of fresh, vibrant food in the here-and-now. She sees her global experiences as having allowed her to developa sense of adventure when it comes to trying out new recipes. "If you're in the middle of Sumatra or somewhere and there's notjing you recognise, you've got to try foods that you wouldn't normally. And that's something that inspires my cooking."
Asked if the pop-ip restaurant, with its almost un-british premise of inviting strangers into your home, can appeal to a Malmesbury community, Leanne is convinced that this new idea is exactly what the town's food scenehas been looking for. "Malmesbury has a lot of peoplewho really appreciate good food. There are a lot of puup-type restaurants here, and we're providing an alternative experience to that."
Leanne and Jon's pop-ip restaurant will be focusedaround cosy informality with 8 places around their dinner table available to book. The couple see this new venture into probaye dining as a way of bringing people together in a relaxed enviroment. "We've literally just opened up our dining room" says Leanne, "it's a dinner party without the pressure. people can bring their own bolle of wine and just enkou our home and the food."
Leanne's confidence in tghe project, however, is down to the enduring popularity of her food. With basic premise of giving her customers what they want, her cooking promotes experimentation with traditional old-style dishes. "My recipies are old favourites with a twist. It's good that people love, butin a way they haven't tasted it before"
Leanne's next pop-up dining experience is on 26th August. See www.echofood.co.ukor contact her atSouthgate Cottage, 72 High street, Malemesbury, 07941 049252