The Good Life: Beautiful and the Feast

For anyone considering leaving the Big Smoke and setting up on the edge of a forest, or with sea views; this interview with Will – a Devon-based caterer, founder of Beautiful and the Feast and father-to-be – might just seal the deal…

Will Head, 28, and Keda Hall-Farrise, 31, left London for a more affordable and outdoorsy life in the South West. They run their own catering company Beautiful and the Feast using locally sourced, seasonal produce and are expecting their first baby.

Will, you’re from London and Keda’s from the West Country. You met in London – why did you decide to up sticks?
We’d had a bloody brilliant 10 years in London but the cost of living there, with the commitment and responsibility of our jobs, made it too difficult to start our own business and start a family… it wasn’t a hard decision to make.

The previous year, I’d been a chef in New Zealand for six months and on my return realised how much I loved being in a more rural environment. Keda grew up in the South West so our relocation was eased with family help and once we’d made the decision to do it, things just fell into place… funny how that happens!

Where are you living now?
We live in the middle of nowhere, which I love but we plan on moving slightly closer to the sea in a year or so. The coast is a big drawer for us, as is the community that surrounds it.

What’s your lifestyle like now, compared to when you were in the city?
Our lifestyle is dictated by our surroundings, which is why we have chosen to live here. By no means is living in the countryside a slower pace of life, rather a pace that is set by the individual. We live in a small house near the north Devon/Cornwall border, overlooking a rather delightful forest.

We now work from home and we’ve both had to find a working routine that doesn’t mean we end up working from the minute we get up to well into the night. When you are starting your own business there is always a never ending list of jobs that need attention but a good hour’s lunch break, a brisk walk and daily cooking adventures break the day up nicely.

When did you start Beautiful and the Feast and why?
We started Beautiful and the Feast about five months ago, but the idea of owning a foodie business is something we’d always spoken about. We put our plans into action because of a habitual love of good food and positive environments and we felt like we’d worked for other people for long enough.

Nothing keeps morale up like a dinner by the sea and a fire on the beach. This, as it happens, is also rather romantic…

Running Beautiful and the Feast gives us the opportunity to use all of our skills; we’ve loved designing and building our business from scratch. Nothing means more to us than doing everything in-house and knowing the job’s done right: be it our hand-carved business logo or our home-cured bresaola.

When we say we create everything, we literally mean everything and if we can’t; we enjoy hunting down other small producers that can. Beautiful and the Feast fulfils all our creative needs and leaves us sleeping happy at night.

What were you both doing, career-wise, before it launched?
I worked as a chef and Keda worked in events, both very demanding jobs but taught us a hell of a lot.

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What type of events do you cater for?
We do bloody everything, but our favourite this year was the ‘Cruel and the Curious’ Hinterland exhibition – really good atmosphere, really good people and we cooked in the warm glow of the Cornish sun all day.

How’s business?
Blossoming, like Keda’s belly…

Will you experience a dip coming into winter, or do you have lots of wintery events in the calendar?
A few small events, but we’re focussing on the surrounding community through winter as next year we plan on working up and down the coast with the National Trust, putting on wild feasts and popping up in obscure locations to serve up some truly awesome food.

We work closely with small Devon & Cornish suppliers and want Beautiful and the Feast to be known for it. There are two good reasons for this; firstly the produce is RIDICULOUSLY good, and as a chef nothing makes more sense than to cook seasonally and secondly because the locals deserve it.

What does an average day look like for you?
We tend to be up at 7am, breakfast is normally organic eggs with accessories (whatever is in the fridge or garden), we’ve got a bloody good chicken farm just up the road so we use it almost religiously.

The working day generally goes office – kitchen – office – shed – kitchen – office – beach. A working day ends when it needs to or when the surf is good. I’m normally in charge of dinner as my brain melts at 4pm and all I can think about is food. Meal times are like a testing ground for the business, so it constantly changes.

Our favourite winter dish is a splendid stew with dumplings or fresh breads, in the summer we keep it fresh with organic greens from a bloke called ‘Pat the OG veg man’ down the road and try to barbeque fresh fish/meat daily.

How is it, being both romantic and work partners?
Easy: I love her, she loves me, we both love our business and make time to explore our surroundings together. We know that time away from Beautiful and the Feast makes it all the more awesome to return to it and weekly day trips are an important part of our business plan.

Nothing keeps morale up like a dinner by the sea and a fire on the beach. This, as it happens, is also rather romantic…

By no means is life this little ball of Cornish paradise; we’ve sacrificed a good living wage and an easy, comfortable life in London

Is there anything you miss about living in London?
Apart from the obvious like friends and family, which is a biggy, we don’t miss much.

You’re expecting your first child (congratulations!) – do you feel being self-employed will enable you to find a better work/life balance?
Yeah, defo – we couldn’t have done both Beautiful and the Feast and start a family in London. Moving down here has been the best decision of both our lives; it’s provided us with a solid platform where we can truly take time to grow both family and business.

By no means is life this little ball of Cornish paradise; we’ve sacrificed a good living wage and an easy, comfortable life in London. We now have a strict weekly budget, every penny we earn goes straight back into the business, we live with Keda’s mum (who is also a chef and a very excited grandma-to-be), a cat called CashMoney, a dog called Beryl and a soon-to-be baby boy.

The nearest good coffee is over an hour away and our loved ones are still London bound… but our lives are fulfilled on a very basic level down here. We eat fresh beautiful produce on a daily basis, we’re surrounded by fields, forests and the coast, Keda and I have time for each other and people have time for us. Also, the coffee tastes so much sweeter when you have to work for it.

What do you envisage for your son’s upbringing – will you stay in the countryside, spent time outdoors, eat organic food…?
I grew up in London and Keda grew up here, so we both know the benefits of each environment. We want to raise our son with a great deal of outdoor fun and education, in the sea as much as possible, foraging for food in the woods, slaughtering our own meat, growing our own veg, roaring fires in the winter.

On the flip side, having so much family in London allows us to engage him in the wonders of multiculturalism. Experiencing by taste, sound and sight is how I was raised and it allowed me to understand the world outside of my own immediate culture.

The sense of history felt by late night views of the city helped gain a larger perspective of how the world truly works. Above all else, we want our son to be respectful of all things and to take in to consideration the views and beliefs of others.

Do you have any advice for other couples thinking about leaving the city to set up a business?

Starting your own business is hard, you will make mistakes, spend money in the wrong places, constantly worry about your logo, burn all the hair off your arms and face (chef-life). But your personal outgoings will dramatically reduce, you’ll be far happier and beards always grow back. So do it or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. (Ps. Keda doesn’t have a beard…)

And is catering a good industry to be working in?
If you are good at it yes, it can be rewarding and earn you a good living, but you can never cut corners and expect some late nights and very early mornings.

Here are some of our favourite South West finds… Strong AdolfosHickory NinesOtter SurfboardsRose Choules Atelier.

Visit Beautiful and the Feast’s website

And if you’d like to chat to Will about any of the above, send him an email: Justask@beautifulandthefeast.com

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