I'm Peggy van Rooyen, private chef, welcome to my website.
First a little about me: I trained at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland under the auspices of Darina Allen - 'the Irish Delia'. Ballymaloe gives its students an uniquely privileged involvement with the lifecycle of food. Living on an organic farm for the duration of the course means opportunities for growing vegetables from seed, the daily harvest of salad and herbs for the school, collecting eggs, feeding pigs, milking cows, and of course, recycling all our waste into compost. Alongside visits to small producers to see smoking, butchery or cheesemaking, these experiences take the trainee cook beyond the horizons of the stovetop to a broader understanding of what makes good food.
Before moving back to London, I ran my own small catering company, Love Sussex, in Hastings. East Sussex is a county with a rich diversity of local producers of high quality ingredients, and I focussed on using as many local ingredients as possible, sourced from within a 15 mile radius of Hastings. I'm proud to say that up to 85% of each menu was made, caught, reared or grown in the beautiful Sussex countryside. From field to fork, the food I served was produced by people with passion. I even kept my own flock of hens to provide eggs for my baking.
I've been very fortunate to work for the highly talented duo, Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi, who own and run Ottolenghi in London. The first time I ate in Ottolenghi, I had an epiphany, the food was everything I love to cook - fresh, vibrant, boldly flavourful - but also sophisticated and thoughtful. The opportunity to learn from them has enhanced my skills and range tremendously, and I bring that new insight to the menus that I offer my clients.
As a freelance chef, I have catered for every sort of private occasion from christenings to weddings to funerals. I also provide catering for corporate clients, some of whom include the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Low Impact Living Intitiative, and Swallow Bakery, where I acted as menu consultant for a new branch in Cheltenham.
I worked the 2010/11 ski season for Hip Hideouts in the French Alps - you can read more about them (and me) in the article in the attachments section below - and am currently working in the UK and Europe on short freelance contracts for the summer.
And finally, as a chef, my philosophy is simple, I won't serve anything I don't think is absolutely delicious. While I'm still very committed to the sourcing of local ingredients, now that I am based in London, I'm equally excited by the huge range of products available from every nationality imaginable, and take great pleasure in sourcing novel, but always delectable, ingredients to add that extra "something" to my menus.