An interview with Neil and Lisa Johnson, founders and directors, of Humble Pie caterers and cook school.
Bespoke gourmet caterers Humble Pie say they make “yummy food for gatherings and special occasions”. They have been preparing sumptuous meals for wedding guests and gala dinners at Winton House for the last two years, and are expected to cater for up to 15 private events this year.
“Humble Pie are big on East Lothian produce. So professional and relaxed, with a most can-do attitude”, says Kerry McCabe, general manager at Winton House.
Humble Pie cater for a wide spectrum of weddings and corporate events including gala dinners. Their blue chip client list spans Brewin Dolphin, Sir Robert McAlpine, the American Consulate, Amnesty International, the Scottish Book Trust, Carillion plc and the Scottish Parliament. Delicious dishes are conjured up using fresh, seasonal ingredients from high quality local farmers and food businesses.
Asked about his impression of Winton House, Neil Johnson says: “There are nice friendly staff at Winton. There’s a vision here and it’s a family home, two themes which go together very well. The ongoing investments in the property make a big difference. Many other venues don’t do that.
“Not having a catering background has been a strength for Lisa and I. Lisa spent 10 years as a radio presenter for the BBC (although she did run a restaurant when she was just nineteen) and I was formerly a chartered surveyor in London.
“Lisa is the creative one. I contribute the commercial acumen in the background.
“We both love food and like to think that we’re not stigmatized by convention. Rather than impose our menus on clients, we create bespoke menus specifically for each client. We always try to be very customer focused.”
This means that Humble Pie serves an eclectic range of food although its core is always seasonal, local produce, carefully prepared with a twist.
“Lisa likes to devour recipe books and is always looking for new ideas. She’s currently into Mediterranean and Lebanese food, influenced by the Ottolenghi restaurants in London.
“The catering in Scotland can be a bit dated; Humble Pie tries to take a fresh approach. Our kitchens in Kingston near North Berwick are surrounded by fields growing produce; so it seems natural for our chefs to use seasonal, locally grown ingredients, where possible. When cooking for a gala dinner or wedding, we use whatever’s in season at the time.
“All of our fruit and veg comes from the Crunchy Carrot in Dunbar. Their stock comes from local farmers and the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market. Colin Peat, the Haddington butchers, and Reivers from Eyemouth supply our meat. Fish is sourced locally from JK Thomson in Musselburgh who know the exact provenance of their fish: they can tell you ‘today’s halibut’s from Gigha’, for example!”
Lisa Johnson says: “We do catering with flavour and flair not fuss.
“Huge platters of antipasti with delicious dips make good starters at weddings. Beautifully cooked beef or lamb complemented by luscious salads go down a treat, and we let guests carve the roast at their own table if they want to. Delicious fresh seasonal puddings round our meals off. ”