First look: Inside Hadleigh’s new artisan deli
- Credit: Archant
Stock up on fresh handmade pasta, ice creams, sauces, chutney, cheeses and more at Fork.
An award-winning Suffolk chef has just opened the doors to a unique foodie emporium that’s part-deli, part-farmers’ market.
Justin Kett, who was named Best Chef in the Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2018, worked through the night with wife Kairi for 31 days from getting the keys, to bring Fork Deli & Kitchen to Hadleigh, where the family have lived for the last eight years.
Based in the capacious former premises of The Pedal House at 55 High Street, slap bang in the centre of the market town, Fork is a food-lover’s dream, brimming with a huge range of homemade goodies, from pasta and cakes, to chutneys, pickles and sauces, supplemented by produce sourced from within 50 miles of the shop.
Speaking on the opening day, November 4, Justin says both he and Kairi have been overwhelmed already by the support from local people, selling out of lots of several items.
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“We’ve still got a lot to bring to the shop,” Justin reveals, “there’s a lot more produce to come in, but as soon as lockdown was announced we just wanted to get open.”
The chef, who previously headed up the catering operation across the Folk hotel group (including The Swan at Lavenham), and Kairi (who also worked for Folk) took redundancy earlier this year, leaving them open to fulfil their dream of running their own business.
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“Times changed with Covid so we thought let’s do our own thing. We didn’t want a restaurant because I think the area is saturated with them at the moment, and we were sitting down one night and came up with the concept of a shop where we make everything ourselves, where I can use my cooking skills in a different way. We actually have an open kitchen so you can come in and see and smell what we’re making.
“We looked at a lot of other towns for a shop, and viewed number 55 multiple times – we thought it would make such a great space for what we wanted, so we went for it. And we haven’t stopped since the moment we signed the lease,” Justin says.
In time there will be a station for hot drinks and pastries in the mornings for customers to grab on their way to work, but for the time being the focus is heavily on Justin’s own homemade Fork products.
“We’ve got so many things we’re going to do and more to come. At the moment there’s fresh pasta in the fridge we made today in our pasta machine – four different types. Pasta sauce. We’ve made six types of homemade ice cream with flavours like strawberries and shortbread, chocolate brownie, and hazelnut and salted caramel. For our jumbleberry ice cream we turned all the hedgerow berries we picked in Hadleigh into a beautiful jam and mixed it through.”
Speaking of jam, all the pots made by Justin have been created using fruit grown in the town (greengages, plums, blackberry) while strawberries were sourced from Assington up the road.
Justin has made curried date chutney, a Hadleigh chutney, pickles, ketchup...even brown sauce.
Ready-made sandwiches and chilled drinks fill one fridge, and the deli counters are being stocked daily with cured meats and largely British cheeses with plans for porchetta to join them soon.
Bread is sourced from The Little Pig Bakery in Needham Market, with over 20 loaves of sourdough flying out of the shop on day one. And Justin is baking too – from chocolate muffins, cheese straws and doughnuts, to Suffolk rusks to go with the cheese.
Elsewhere in the shop there are fresh vegetables, and hand-selected ambient goods, including Yare Valley oils, Suffolk Spiced Rum infused with chocolate from The Suffolk Distillery, and high-quality teas.
Once lockdown is over and some form of normality has resumed, Justin and Kairi will open the upstairs area, set to be an informal cookery school.
“I’m really passionate,” says Justin, “about children learning to cook, and I love giving demonstrations and masterclasses. The upstairs is the perfect setting to do sessions of 14 to 16 people, letting them really get involved and up close and personal with food. And instead of waiting staff serving them, the food will be dished up by the chef. I want to take the pretentiousness out of it. Friends can come and meet other like-minded people and really get involved. If restrictions are lifted in December we’ll have a Christmas cookery class, or maybe a few with groups of up to six. We’ll have to see what happens!”
Fork is open from 8am with the closing time as yet to be decided, with the couple waiting to see what the demand is from the community before they set opening hours in stone.