An inspired chef in Gloucestershire, who feeds more than 200 colleagues daily at a county housebuilder, has won special recognition for her food.
Charlie Mace at Bovis Homes' Cleeve Hall in Bishop's Cleeve
Catering manager Charlie Mace works at Bovis Homes’ Western region office in Bishop’s Cleeve and won the prize at her employer Blue Apple Catering’s annual awards.
Charlie, from Brockworth, picked up her certificate and £500 at the Hertfordshire-based ceremony, attended by 150 guests, and said she was over the moon with the achievement.
“The awards were great fun and getting this catering recognition was just lovely, it was a brilliant way to top off the night and I’m over the moon,” she said.
“Having the freedom to create your own menu every week is just great. I look out for what’s on trend, browse through social media, speak with other chefs and try to keep everything fresh.
“I love looking out at lunchtime and seeing the bistro full and people eating what I produce, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Since Charlie moved to Bovis Homes’ Cleeve Hall offices, the canteen has been fully refurbished and re-named the Basement Bistro. She is supported by her assistant Clair Roberts, and there are new menus every week plus events, including themed lunches and charity cake sales.
Charlie, who grew up in Cheltenham and studied catering and hotel management at the Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, said both her grandmothers and great grandmothers were her inspiration for cooking.
All worked in catering and Charlie, who cooked all over Australia for three years in her 20s – from upmarket restaurants in Sydney to cattle ranches in the outback – said she felt it was in the blood.
The former Chosen Hill pupil also lived in France for ten years, near La Rochelle, and worked in a restaurant by a fishing lake before managing a bar and restaurant at a wildlife park.
Growing up, she wanted to be a marine biologist but found her cooking to be much better than her biology.
Charlie’s mum was the catering manager at the Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education and the budding chef took a Saturday job there as a youngster.
Her favourite celebrity chef is Tom Kerridge and her best dish is a crème brulee. Before starting at Bovis Homes’ Cleeve Hall office, she worked at the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh and for contract caterers, which included running school kitchens.
Her menu now includes dishes such as Cajun chicken with lime and coriander rice and chimichurri sauce, plus coconut rice pudding.
Charlie, who hopes to keep developing her menu and growing her suppliers, said: “Cooking is definitely in my family and I absolutely love it. Puddings are my favourite and while it’s great to modernise, a traditional crème brulee is a thing of joy.
“Tom Kerridge is a great Gloucester boy and his food is amazing, it’s very down to earth. I try and incorporate his style when I can.
“I hope to carry on at Cleeve Hall for a very long time and producing exciting food that tickles the taste buds of every Bovis Homes colleague.”
Stephanie Spry, regional marketing manager at Bovis Homes, congratulated Charlie on her prize, saying: “This recognition is so well deserved. We all love Charlie’s dishes, they make our day at Bovis Homes and we are very proud of her achievement.”