A note from Fee
Too long since the last journal post. A lot has happened, engulfing all our energies and time.
The weeks sweep by at such a pace. One weekends event just about done and the next is there. It can feel like a massive race against time in the midst of wedding season. I am acutely aware how the days, weeks, months slide away. Last night, I was at a party and found myself opposite an old friend sitting next to his eldest daughter with his first and very new grandchild. The first time I met the daughter she was the same size as her baby but it seems no time ago. Slightly shocking, humbling, a stark realisation of how old I am! Easy to forget as I bumble through life.
We are so lucky in this mad world of hospitality to witness and be a part of so many significant moments in people’s lives. It certainly keeps you grounded; the pace is intense, hard to control at times. I do think there is a part of it that becomes addictive, always striving to push and push and do the best you can for everyone. Important to keep a balance, so many calls on all our time aside from work. The garden constantly calls, watering, weeding, picking, planting, a joy but nevertheless a burden. The dogs, the house, most importantly family and friends all must be enjoyed, not become a pressure but inevitably they do, and can, if you allow. A private moment every day to step back, take a deep breath and just look around, listen to something good, the joy in a small child’s face playing happily on the beach does help the grounding, enforce the important things, escape the clock watching, make you smile, laugh to yourself (and at yourself) at the craziness and wonderfulness of it all.
We opened Four Boys on April Fools Day! A three and half week turnaround from the moment we completed the deal (exchange only happened one week earlier) Phenomenal effort from so many to open those doors at Easter. Nothing forgotten, a whole new team recruited, test nights done, menus adjusted and bang we were off into a whole new world. George, our eldest son (No 1) has created and engineered everything at Four Boys. I think I just about managed to get some cushions made and covered in time, that was it... huge responsibility! Charlie, my husband, and his team did as only they would; smashed the place apart and put it together so brilliantly in so little time.
We have changed nothing since, it looks great, simple, clean, uncluttered, calm, and welcoming. The menu has evolved in the last three months. Creative, thoughtful adjustments, endless discussions at the end of the day with the team has resulted in something that is being noticed and appreciated. The view, of course, speaks for itself, no change there. For years, we have thought that this amazing area we live in needed a restaurant that was fun, informal with great, unfussy, delicious food. And so that is what we are trying to do. You can still bring your dogs, but we no longer have a menu for them! So, this is just the beginning of this exciting project. I am so proud of everyone who is making this happen, every day is a new day. George is there most days absorbing your comments and striving to make it better and better. The hospitality madness gene has definitely been fully passed onto him. Mark, no 2 works up the road and helped seal the deal on the business he will be found eating and drinking at FB, Alfie no 3 back from his winter travels is in the kitchen bringing his very individual thoughtful self to the table. Hal, no 4 is unexpectedly home for a couple of months (can never keep them away from a summer here… too much fun to be had) and is also working in the kitchen. So, it really is Four Boys.
We have a truly fantastic team over the whole business. Our production kitchen team are very dedicated, passionate people working so hard to get it right. They are a great support to Four Boys as well as managing to cook so much food everyday with huge care and thought, keeping the shops in Rock and Port Isaac as well as the few shops we supply in North Cornwall stocked with good things. The support from the locals all year round as well as the stream of holiday makers and second homeowners is incredible. What a joy seeing familiar faces every year, kids growing up, scarily suddenly grown ups… I’m sure they were the little person grinning from ear to ear with a bucket and spade just last year… now cool and tall and asking for a job!
There are a lot of spinning tops now. As is the way in Cornwall, we go from a very quiet life to stop and start weekends to a surge of people all wanting and needing huge amounts of food. It isn’t easy to keep up with and not end up with a lot of waste, being over or understaffed. We cannot be without the staff who we are so indebted to. Keen to give them a good work life balance and to pay them properly with year-round jobs is essential. Suddenly, we have a lot more people working with us, and how exciting is that. Each an individual with great skills, experience, and character. It is slightly bizarre and very humbling to find myself in the midst of all this energy and wonderful people, a far cry from me on my own flying around in abject chaos of children, building projects, weddings, dinners, absolutely no business plan just a need to earn some money, non-stop... mad really. It was seat of the pants stuff, but we always got there. The most important thing, as now, was to deliver, get the job done in the best way you could. In the old days people would ask me ‘do you know Ottelenghi? We want that kind of food’, or some restaurant in London they loved. Determined to show them that yes, of course we could do it, not wanting to let Cornwall down we strived to do more than they hoped for. Lovingly fed and surprised was and will always be important (and yes I did know who Ottelenghi was)! I think we did ok then and I think the food coming out of the kitchen now really is something I am proud of and happy to have my name on. I am the last person who would want her name on anything, much happier hiding in a catering tent doing my thing than on the front of anything. I remember being so conspicuous the first time I drove a van up the road with Fee’s on it… cringe... literally hiding behind the wheel hoping no one noticed! I don’t notice anymore, got a bit used to it.
It is lovely when old clients recognising you from years ago, reminisce about their son or daughter’s wedding, which remarkably, mostly, I can remember a lot of. A tap on my shoulder in Fee’s is never a bad thing, a reminder of what has gone before, or a comment that is always helpful, often touching and kind. I always marvel at the lovely atmosphere in the two shops, cosy, friendly, full of life, locals, and holiday folk. It really is special to be a part of these moments, I never underestimate them. Long may we continue enjoying getting everyone together round a table eating great food, and having fun with friends and family… The essence of life.
Thank you for helping us get this far. Exciting days ahead. xx