The mid to end of the last week in August was a challenging one with a number of new experiences. The time had finally come to prepare for the Coln St Aldwyns fete. When we agreed to make 80 pizzas for the Coln St Aldwyns fete in our OoniPro Professional outdoor pizza oven some months ago it seemed like months away. However, there I was mid week the week before last ensuring that my ingredients for the pizzas would be delivered as scheduled. I should add at this point that although the original plan was just to make 80 pizzas for the fete, I was asked by the owner of Lynwood & Co to make the guess the weight of the cake, cake so in addition to checking ingredients mid week there I was making sugar craft coffee berries, leaves and letters, spelling Lynwood.
Thursday was final shopping day for the remaining ingredients before prep day on Friday. Friday had a slow start as I had scheduled in my pre-holiday manicure and pedicure and required waxing a while back so my first stop of the day was to Purely Divine in Fairford. Although I find manicures and pedicures decidedly boring, I wasn’t worried about the time as our dog walker/sitter wasn’t arriving until 1 pm to pick up the hound and I didn’t want to start cooking until my dog and its fur were well away. I was also waiting for my Blue Seal Turbofan Compact Convection Oven to arrive at 2pm to do my baking as I had a four layer cake to make. Talk about Just in Time Philosophy.
Still not perturbed as I had my list and knew what I needed to do when, all should have gone to plan had my underlying stomach issues not started to play up. Bad eating and lack of hydration on Wednesday and Thursday (because of my shifts at the Coln Community Stores) had caused my stomach to niggle and because I had to be on my feet all day Friday, rather than resting, by 9 o’clock even pain killers could not keep the pain at bay. I had no option but to forge ahead as I had both the Coln St Aldwyns Fete Committee and Lynwood & Co relying on me to deliver.
With the help of Jo (who had to spend time helping me rather than doing all the other tasks he needed to do as part of the Fete Committee) by the time we went to bed all the pizza prep was done and the Lynwood & Co cake was baked. All that remained was for me to roll out the pizza dough on Saturday morning and to ice and decorate the Lynwood & Co cake. I should add that I also made 40 cookies on Friday for good measure, cookies which remained largely uneaten as there was no cake stall as I was lead to believe, just a coffee/tea and cake stall, which seemed to be inundated with cakes anyway. I should possibly add that I also made an additional cake on Saturday morning (again for the imaginary cake stall), which although being displayed at the coffee/tea/cake stall late in the day went very quickly despite the mishap that happened to it shortly after we arrived at the fete on Saturday morning (more of this later).
With all the preparations on Saturday morning and with Jo rushing between the fete site and home, trying to set up the stalls and take what we needed for the pizza stall, my sister, Gilly and I only arrived at the fete site for 12 pm. The fete started at 12.30 pm. With the other food provider (burgers and sausages in a roll) looking mighty fine and up and running when we arrived, we were really on the back foot. The pizza oven had not even been lit as Jo had been too busy organising other things at the fete, albeit not to the satisfaction of some of the volunteers.
My sister and I did the best we could to set up as quickly as possible, but if it had not been for Rob, the owner of Lynwood & Co, who started the pizza oven, we would have been even further behind than we were. The only saving grace (although it didn’t feel like it at the time) was that the interest in the pizzas was very slow at the start so we had a bit of time to start things up.
Although Rob saved the day by starting the pizza oven, in searching for the pellets to light the pizza oven, Rob turned my Orla Kiely cake tin upside down (thinking it had pellets in it) so the icing and chocolate shavings on top of my chocolate cake were left a little dishevelled as the cake was turned on its head – I managed to neaten it up enough to serve at the coffee/tea/cake stall.
Despite a slow start, things soon picked up and we were preparing and baking pizzas almost solidly until the fete started to wind down. Although the feedback on the pizzas was very positive (they were described as excellent) and we have been invited to offer them again at next year’s fete, there are a number of lessons to learn:
- Don’t over-order ingredients as you will end up with a lot of wastage and unnecessary cost
- Ensure that you have enough time to set things up so that your stall looks like it was in your mind’s eye
- Ensure that you hide the containers for transporting goods to the fete under the gingham table cloth so that your stall looks professional (in our rush to set up, this was an oversight, which was unfortunately evidenced in the photos)
- Don’t panic if sales start out slow – have confidence in your product (we reduced the price of our pizzas by £0.50 at the outset to get things started, which we then had to stick with for the rest of the day)
- Ensure that you have prices on display (including something about an introductory offer or first 10 pizzas at reduced price) so that potential customers know what they are paying (especially when the burger stall has their prices well displayed) – customers are less likely to be tentative if they know what they are paying upfront
- Have appropriate containers for serving what you are selling (serviettes may be okay for burgers and sausages in a roll, but not for pizzas) – thank goodness for Rob again for coming to the rescue with some containers (they certainly saved the day)
Despite the many lessons to be learnt, all in all the day went very well (I couldn’t have done it without the help of Jo, Rob and Gilly). We finished off with a quick clean up, a drink or two at friends up the road and a meal at the New Inn before doing our final packing for our holiday which was due to start at 3.15 am on Sunday morning – the time our alarm was set to ensure that we would get to Heathrow on time for our early morning flight to Geneva en route to Chamonix for five days of trail running and relaxation.