16th May 2013
Most budding gastronomists have experienced it: the moment when a recipe requires one extra-special ingredient and it’s nowhere to be seen in the local supermarket.
That’s where Nicola and Nick Lando’s company, Sous Chef, comes to the rescue. With next-day delivery of some of the world’s more outlandish ingredients, Sous Chef can bring artisanal ingredients to your door with the click of a mouse. We caught up with Nicola to find out more.
What were you doing before setting up Sous Chef?
I worked in venture capital, helping small companies such as Streetcar and Almondy (a Scandinavian cake business) grow. I then spent a summer working in a high-profile French restaurant kitchen before setting up Sous Chef. My husband and co-founder, Nick, is a chartered accountant by training, which has proven very useful.
… And what spurred you set the site up?
I spent years as a frustrated home cook, struggling to find the equipment or ingredients mentioned in my favourite cookbooks. Working as a chef in a restaurant opened my eyes to the huge range of products that are available to professionals, though often only in enormous catering sized packets. I wanted to make these amazing products available to everyone and so Sous Chef was born.
What's the strangest product in your current range?
Cuitlacoche, (a Mexican corn fungus) – it is certainly an acquired taste!
Is there anything that you want to be able to offer to your customers that you struggle to source?
I’d love to be able to offer fresh or chilled items – but sadly we don’t have the facilities to do that at the moment.
Which of the ingredients you sell do you find most exciting to cook with?
I still get very excited about dried chillies – the colours and textures are beautiful, and the aromas are eye-watering yet delicious; best when charred and soaked in hot water to rehydrate.
Also, I often dip into our different salts and peppers; selecting the perfect one for a dish adds that extra wow-factor. For desserts, our pistachio paste and white chocolate couverture are a fabulous combination!
Do you have a client you are most proud to supply?
Yes, several. We’ve had orders from a number of the top restaurants in Europe, which is always a cause of great excitement in the office.
What’s the most difficult part of running Sous Chef?
Keeping up with demand in terms of hiring extra staff, expanding the warehouse and fulfilling all the extra orders whilst maintaining our high standards of customer service is a challenge.
... And the most satisfying?
Reading our customers’ feedback. We ask everyone who shops at Sous Chef to leave a comment, good or bad, which appears live and unedited on our website. Things don’t always go perfectly of course but generally it’s really encouraging to hear from so many happy people. I love hearing about what they are cooking with the products!
What’s next for the Sous Chef?
I’d like Sous Chef to become the favourite shop of every adventurous cook, not just selling amazing products but also sharing our knowledge and helping our customers be the best cooks they can be.
Tel: 0800 270 7591
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