Lockdown support for 89-year-old grandma provides Northumberland chef with the recipe for success

What started as lockdown support for her grandma has grown into a full-time business for a Northumberland woman.

Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 4:45 pm

Food stylist and chef Laura Hardy-Rochester provided home cooked heat and eat dishes for her 89-year-old grandma, Marjorie Tait, after coronavirus hit in the spring.

She realised it was a recipe for success and her Kooked North range is now turning out some 350 meals per week.

"It’s been absolutely mental,” admitted Laura, who runs the business with husband, Ashley, from Glendale Business Park in Wooler.

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Kooked North.

Before lockdown, she worked at Carnaby’s in Brownieside, The Apple Inn at Lucker and was about to start at Radcliffes in Amble.

“All of a sudden everywhere closed and because I was self-employed there was no furlough so I quickly realised I needed to do something,” explained Laura.

Providing food packages for her grandma in Ford allowed her to put her thoughts into practice.

"We were really worried about her,” admitted Laura. “She would never have asked for help herself so we made some meals to fill up her freezer and it was also a bit of an excuse to get out and see her.

Kooked North founder Laura Hardy-Rochester, pictured with her grandma, Marjorie Tait, on her wedding day.

“We saw a huge difference in her after a short period. It really benefited her.”

She told a few friends and they encouraged her to take the idea a step further.

"We decided we wanted to keep everything as local as possible,” she explained, “so we’re using lamb from Ingram Valley Farm, beef from just down the road at Strother & Son, near Chatton, pork from The Rolling Pig, potatoes from Particularly Good Potatoes in Wooler.”

Vegetables are sourced from their garden and their parents’ and an allotment.

A selection from the Kooked North range.

Game from local estates is also on the menu.

A range of fresh and frozen heat and eat meals, some inspired by her passion for the Middle East, are now offered with full cooking instructions.

There is a delivery service for rural customers who struggle to get out and about, while collections are available from Glendale Business Park.

"I initially stayed on at Carnaby’s after lockdown just to be cautious but I got too busy and went for it,” she said. “It feels like I’ve gone from cooking for a few friends to this virtually overnight so it’s a bit crazy.”

A heat and eat meal from Kooked North.

Visit @kooked.north on Facebook and Instagram

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Rhubarb from the garden.
The Kooked North packaging was also designed by Laura Hardy-Rochester.
Chicks have been raised and are now laying free range eggs.