In 1992 she started Deborah Steward Specialist Catering, a family run business, with her husband Kevin catering for local events. Now the business caters and manages over 100 events per year from private dinners for 2 up to charity dinners for 700 guests.
In 2005, they started working with Sandringham Estate to improve their Restaurants and Cafe at the Norfolk Estate of HM The Queen, in 2010, they were awarded the Royal Warrant as Suppliers of Event Catering and Management to HM The Queen. In addition to this, they also have a thriving outside catering business. They have cooked for royalty and celebrities, providing the food at numerous high profile county events, cooking in some of Norfolk’s most beautiful buildings and ensuring that countless brides and grooms have had their perfect wedding day.
As the couple explain, the catering business is something which evolved over time. Deborah has long been passionate about food – and describes herself as a “food anorak” who has cookbooks as her bedtime reading of choice! After studying catering at King’s Lynn, she joined the Blakeney Hotel as a pastry chef. “I knew within a few months that’s what I wanted to do. I had brilliant tutors at King’s Lynn, really interesting people. “I moved around Norfolk working at different places, making it all the way up to Head Chef and then gave it all up to have our two daughters,” she says. But she kept her hand in by making wedding cakes and catering dinners at people’s homes. The business then snowballed to the point where Kevin, who was working in the motor trade, had a decision to make. “He was trying to work full time and help me at weekends. The hours we work are quite unsociable, so we had to make a decision as to what we wanted to do. And we decided to jump in with both feet,” Deborah says.
It certainly turned out to be the right decision – the huge collection of photographs of events they’ve worked at is a testament to that.
Deborah uses local ingredients wherever possible, insisting that you “get the best results from food which is prepared close to where it is grown”. Menus are prepared from season to season taking advantage of locally sourced meats, vegetables and fish which are often caught in the local lake (by Deborah’s own father then hot smoked).
Insisting that her company is based on ‘team effort’ where every member of her team plays an integral part of working for the company. Deborah says “every staff member has an important role to play – ensuring each event is executed with extreme precision and given the personal touch at every opportunity”.