It was our busiest year ever, a year that saw us welcome my brother Christian Orde and his young family back from New Zealand to join the business and help with what would be an amazing Summer season.
In the previous year and early 2013 we recruited some excellent staff; a pair of first class chefs, a tireless event manager, a Duracel restaurant management team, waiters, cooks, secretaries and a kit manager. These new additions slotted admirably into our existing and long serving brigade and without the esprit de cours they developed over the winter of 2012/13 I doubt we would have coped quite so well in the virgin territory we were to forge. New staff at Abbotsford’s Ochiltree’s Dining even managed to get some training for the Winter Olympics in!
All our staff come from the Scottish Borders and we are all proud to cater to the good people of our region (and further afield) using locally sourced quality food and drink cooked and served to high standards, standards we are always trying to better!
We kicked off our 2013 events with snowfall at Abbotsford and a spree of private dinner parties. Once staff holidays were through we prepared for March with a Silking dinner for the Faculty of Advocates, Corporate Catering at the ever popular Buccleuch Point to Point for Lycetts and a wedding in an unusual location – St Georges School, Edinburgh! We prepared and served 150 guests from a maths class room we had converted into a kitchen. The menu of Trio of Border Salmon, Smoked, home cured gravadlax and hot smoked was followed by Wild Highland Venison carved at the table. Apple Tarte with Over Langshaws Vanilla Ice cream finished off the meal in style.
With Spring and April came a special Wedding for a fellow caterer and family friend from the South for whom we provided one of our favorite dishes of the year. We really enjoyed preparing all the sweet treats that went into this dish and getting the puddings out for the 200 guests was fun but hard work. The vibrant colours really brought a wow factor to the meal, great fun!
We also were busy opening our Tea rooms and Cafes for the season, Mellerstain and Harestanes had a good run over the year with increased visitor numbers and some very nice weather helping things along. Unfortunately Thirlestane Castle needed to be closed for refurbishment during all of 2013, however we did cater some very nice weddings there.
Mid Summer 2013 was unlike anything we had experienced before. The official opening of Abbotsford House by HRH Queen Elizabeth II was day to savour for all involved. We provided a taste of the Border’s for her Majesty and 28 VIPS showcasing Tweed Smoked Salmon, Border Lamb and Tweed Valley Strawberries. A further 600 guests enjoyed picnics using local produce from Shaws Fine Meats and Standhill Dairy. All the packaging was made from Scottish produced 100% recycled and biodegradable Vegware. Our team really pulled together and it was a honour to serve such high profile guests and to work with such committed and talented staff.
Swiftly following the opening of Abbotsford were a series of high profile weddings and events which saw us cater for over 5000 people in the space of a fortnight! It’s all a blur now and to have worked at that level of intensity with such professionalism deserves great respect and recognition for all our staff. When people ask us if we are busy it’s alway set in comparison to those two weeks and when doing multiple weddings and events over the rest of those Summer days, week in week out, we simply dust off our shoulders and say “It could be busier.”
We had great fun on the 13th of July… some people are superstitious but we had a couple of events on that day, clearly we have some care free and fun focussed clientele. One in a marquee dramatically jutting from the front of a Georgian Mansion house – what could go wrong???….
….And a wedding for over 250 guest where we served an ambitious dessert including an Ice cream bombe… again… what could go wrong in 31 degree heat??? Everything went to plan, come guys, what did you expect? It’s GILL ORDE IN CATERING! I left the marquee the night before at 11pm and was back at 9am prepping the puddings. The freezer was running at a steady 0 degrees and close to packing in but thank heavens we got the meal served!
I like the story behind this dessert. I managed to have a chat over a pint with the Bride and Groom before the wedding and discovered that they both loved Terry’s Chocolate Oranges – I knew i had to get those flavours onto the menu somewhere so we asked local ice cream producers Over Langshaw Dairy to make a chocolate and Gran Marnier ice cream which we would cast in chocolate spheres. It was a charming moment when, at the top table, the bride and groom got to share one of their favorites treats whilst everyone else commended them on their good taste!
We must mention the fantastic marquees and dining spaces we served our food in over the past year too! We had African themed marquees, brilliant cream and gold interiors and flowers that filled the air with really luxurious scents. We were well looked after by our event suppliers too, a big thank you needs to go to:
As Summer merged into Autumn we found ourselves looking after some lovely guests at some of the large holiday homes we cater for. We’ve had guests from China, France, USA and across the UK. It’s been a pleasure hosting them and giving them a taste of the Borders.
We look forward to a busy 2014 with bookings through January and February to keep the wolf from the door. We will be pushing ourselves harder than ever to improve upon this years successes and we thank our wonderful loyal clientele for supporting us through this year and the many years previous to that.
Roll on 2014!