Two Many Cooks is a catering and cafe business that was the brainchild of Joanna Rowlands. After graduating from Leith’s School of Food and Wine school she began a sandwich round and it “all grew from there” says her daughter, Emily Jones, who helps run the business with her mother. With two busy cafes – one on Reigate’s Lesbourne Road, and one in Dorking – the eponymous mother-and-daughter cooks offer a combination of cafe food, supper clubs, and catering for events.
“It’s a family business and we still work together, on both the cafe and catering side”, Emily says. “What’s great is that people can visit the café and taste the quality of food they’re going to get at their wedding, event or party because it’s all cooked by the same people.” Freshness, locally grown, fewer miles, and seasonality are the keywords for their style of cooking.
“It’s elegant but proper food,” Emily adds. “Colourful, seasonal, contemporary and lots of it: my nightmares are of running out of canapés or any kind of food! But after all these years doing successful events, I know what people will get through, and I won’t let anyone order too much, or too little.”
Whilst you can head to the cafe for their extremely good Coffee Real coffee, from March this year Two Many Cooks are re-introducing their supper clubs. “There’s a mix of private and shared tables, so it can be a good way to meet people if you’re new to town. Reigate’s such a friendly and buzzy place now: lots of people are moving down here and there are lots of independent businesses like us in the area. That’s unusual nowadays and a real bonus.”
“I’m a Surrey girl, born and bred,” says Emily, “and I love the fantastic producers we have around here. We make everything from scratch, including our chutneys and jams; we sell local honey; get meat from Robert & Edwards (a proper old-fashioned butcher whose meat is a cut above); and serve wines sourced by Vineking that complement the ever-changing menus.”
Most of the catering for events comes from word-of-mouth recommendations. “Once we’ve done the wedding, we often then do the christening, the big birthdays and sometimes even the family funeral. We love that about our business: that we can help at any kind of event because you don’t just get the food: you get our expertise in the timings; you get our lovely staff with their friendly and kind service; and, of course, you get our advice on the menu itself.”
Unlike many catering companies, Two Many Cooks will cater smaller events as well: from cosy wedding breakfasts at the café; to a couple of hundred people in a marquee on the lawn; to Christmas dinners for twenty; and everything in between.
“We don’t have a limit really,” Emily says, “although we don’t usually go above two hundred people, because that can be tricky with the kind of high quality we offer. We can also provide vegan only, pescatarian and vegetarian, and will devise the menu with the client – it’s always changing and always new, and that’s what keeps it vibrant. We recently did a mostly-vegan event: it’s quite hard not using butter, but the results were delicious and that’s a big trend for a lot of people nowadays. Likewise, we never use plastic spoons or cups, and we’re very conscious of the transport miles of our ingredients and how they are produced. But ultimately, we’re a people business: people being happy with what we make, is what makes us happy.”
Two Many Cooks
53A Lesbourne Rd
Reigate RH2 7JX
01737 244 277