Tim Spedding and Louise Rødkjær, owners of Lola’s food delivery service
When we entered the first lockdown in early 2020, chefs Tim Spedding and Louise Rødkjær had an idea, and started Lola’s, which delivered ‘dining at home’ boxes across their home turf of North Cornwall, featuring six courses of high quality delivery service from a menu that changed every week.
Not that this came from nowhere. Tim had worked at The Ledbury for years before starting The Clove Club in Shoreditch, where he was Head Chef. It won a Michelin star and was listed as one of the 50 finest restaurants in the world. There followed a brief period in Europe, including a stint at Relæ in Copenhagen, and then a residency at P Franco in Clapton. In 2017, Tim and his partner Louise decided to move to Cornwall. For Tim, it was a return to where his career in food had started. A summer holiday in the county had turned into a four year period where he studied at Cornwall College and worked at The Porthminster Beach Café. Travels in Asia and Australia followed graduation, during which time he worked at Vans in Perth, Australia and Quay in Sydney, before returning to the UK and finding himself at The Ledbury.
Back in Cornwall in 2017, the duo arrived at Coombeshead Farm, 66 acres of beautiful country including a farm, naturally, as well as guesthouse, restaurant and bakery, all run by chefs Tom Adams and April Bloomfield. The restaurant has a constantly changing menu supplied by its own farm produce as well as other local farms, growers and fishermen. They were there until the first lockdown, and the decision to start Lola’s, which brings us almost up to date, apart from their planned move into a bricks and mortar premises in Prideaux Place, Padstow at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Before getting to some questions, we also have Breed’s founder Olivia giving her own personal introduction to, and endorsement of, Tim and Louise:
“I first came across Tim Spedding and Louise Rødkjær, when Tim was the head chef at Coombeshead Farm, where I went to stay for a weekend in 2018.
It was one of those hot summer weekends (there was the joy of no Covid) and there was a sense of breathing out deeply after driving from London on a Friday afternoon… and, of course, the food was delicious.
Tim was in the kitchen and Louise was the one who came to the table telling us what we were eating and drinking.
Fast forward to 2020 and I heard that they had since moved on. When Covid struck, they had the great idea of delivering delicious seasonal suppers in North Cornwall for those who lived in the area and wanted a treat for a Friday or Saturday evening. Perfect for a bit of joy in Lockdown Number One.
Everything pre-prepared, but with a few simple cooking and preparation instructions.
My sister lives in Cornwall and so I ordered her one as a surprise. Tim and Louise arrived in their car, handed the box of delights over the gate of her house near Bodmin Moor and the rest is history.
I knew we were onto something special when my sister called the following day to describe each course and to say how wonderful it had been.
Everything locally sourced, three-course dinner, beautifully presented, hand-illustrated menus, sourdough, with flowers and infused gin added as an extra thought. Louise also makes the best pastries.
Anyway, my sis absolutely loved it and I knew I had to get in on the action, so when staying with her, I’ve often suggested ‘how about getting a ‘DeliverLou’ (the name they use) this weekend?’ (even though my sister is a great cook herself).
I think we’ve had six since and I can’t recommend them enough.
And, with that, it’s time to hear from Tim and Louise themselves:
Was food always important to you when you were growing up?
Louise: YES! Everything revolved around food growing up. Both my parents have been cooking their entire lives and my mum’s side of the family have always loved food. If my parents went out to birthdays etc. I would ask if they had had a good night. They would always start their reply with “We had this and that to eat” and that would tell what kind of evening they’d had.
Tim: My grandmother was a cook and it’s through her that I got into cooking and thought about cooking as a useful pastime. I’ve worked in kitchens since I was 14 and before that I’m pretty sure would cook a lot. Distinct memories of making my family (what I thought at the time were the height of gastronomy) canapés of ham and cheese on sticks, but in squares and circles!
Did your family often visit restaurants?
Louise: Not really, that I can remember. But we would often go to dinner parties at friend’s houses, which is much more common in Denmark, I guess. You invite people to your home rather than going out. Then when I moved to Copenhagen my dad would come on business trips and I got to decide where we would go – just him and I. That was quite special.
Tim: I think for special occasions, yes, but as one of three boys not as a convivial weekend night out.
Where did you learn to cook?
Louise: From my parents and with friends. I was a fussy eater up until I moved away from home pretty much, so I had to cook when I moved in with a friend. I must have absorbed some kind of cooking skills from home too. And my mum was/is a keen baker and I like to make sweet things.
Tim: I went to Thames Valley University in Slough and Cornwall College, Camborne. TVU was great for me as I didn’t love school and suddenly I was in a really diverse environment with mature students from all over the world. I learnt really classic techniques and had the opportunity to work at really prestigious (or so I thought at the time) events including The Brit Awards! And a dinner at Windsor Castle. A really fun introduction to all manner of sides of the hospitality industry. I loved going to college in Cornwall but probably spent more time surfing than cooking.
How did you land your first professional cooking gig?
Louise: I have only ever worked front of house, so no professional experience there. But I did grow up with professional chefs at home, so have probably absorbed quite a bit without knowing it.
Tim: The classic route of KP in my local pub. A chef left so I was entrusted as sous chef of the Toby Carvery. My manager and head chef were actually really good at encouraging me to pursue a career and taught me some great skills. I then went to work at a proper restaurant in Reading. The London St Brasserie which had the buzz of a London kitchen.
How did the two of you meet?
Louise: We met in Copenhagen in the restaurant where I used to work, called Relæ. Tim was there for a two-week work experience (before opening the Clove Club) and we used to travel between London and Copenhagen for two years before I decided to move.
Tim: I was an intern at Relæ and Manfreds in Copenhagen, this was just before we opened The Clove Club. Relæ was a groundbreaking restaurant and I was there to get inspiration and see a different approach to the London restaurants I had been working in.
I can remember vividly the first time Louise walked into the restaurant. She has the most beautiful smile and an incredible aura of warmth. I was not popular when she moved to England! The Danes did not want to see her leave :(
Where are your favourite places to go out and eat and drink in Cornwall?
Louise: Last summer we went to the Atlantic in New Polzeath quite a lot. Their head chef Grant is really talented and we liked sitting outside on their terrace to watch the surf. Before we had our son Theo, we would do lots of beach bbq and I think this summer will be full of beach bbqs and going round to friend’s houses. We also have a big garden, so cooking at home is pretty good when the weather is right.
Tim: The Gurnards Head, Zennor (one of my favourite places).
New Eyes pop-up at Kudhva, Temple in Bude, and North Street Kitchen, Fowey.
Prawn on the Lawn, Padstow.
MMW, a completely unique wine & sake bar doing pop-ups in Newquay.
Adam Banks’ tiny new trattoria in Newquay.
Canteen, St Agnes.
Fee’s in Rock is our local cafe and deli and we’re very lucky as it stocks all the good things.
And who are your favourite suppliers in Cornwall?
Louise: We have worked with Hester’s Harvest (George and Loretta Henry) for years! They are so good at what they do and their vegetables are the best! Really passionate people who commit 100% to what they do.
I’ll let Tim talk about the others…
Tim: Kernow Sashimi – I started working with them in London. They’re on another level to any fishery in the UK. I believe they’re world class! They buy direct from eight day-boats on the Lizard peninsula. All the fishermen are totally clued in to how best to catch, dispatch and store the fish for the optimum quality. They’re a lovely family business and it’s an absolute pleasure to work with them.
Cape & Cove – the highest welfare chicken and pork we have come across that is available commercially.
Phillip Warren – we also worked with PW in London. They have an unbelievable operation whereby they work very closely with farmers and have their own farm raising pasture-fed cattle, pigs, and sheep. What sets them apart is the attention to detail throughout the whole chain and their ageing facility, which takes very good meat to excellent.
Hanson Fine Foods – A cheesemonger extraordinaire. It’s like having a mobile Neal’s Yard Dairy come to your restaurant. Thomas selects and matures West Country cheeses.
What made you decide to set out on your own with Lola’s?
Louise: Necessity, really. We had just had our son when the pandemic hit and all ideas about supper clubs and events went down the drain, so we decided to use our restaurant experience and offer people a really good meal at home instead. We have been so lucky that a lot of our regular guests have embraced our DeliverLou concept and we couldn’t have done it without them.
From setting this up, has it been lovely meeting people out and about in Cornwall, where Cornwall is their home? Or has it been more about catering for people on holiday or visiting? I imagine word of mouth plays a strong part here as well.
Louise: It has been really lovely meeting people at their home but also a bit scary. In a restaurant you get people’s reaction to your food and service immediately, good or bad, but with the deliveries you drop and go! People don’t have to tell you anything – but most people are incredibly kind and write us emails to say thank you, which means the world!
It has also just been fun driving around and seeing new places, especially with the roads being much quieter than normal. We have catered for both locals and holiday visitors but yes, word of mouth.
Where do you find inspiration for what you put on your menus?
Louise: Tim has always got something brewing in his mind and we have lots of cookbooks at home. He definitely finds inspiration in the Japanese kitchen as well as more traditional old-school English cookbooks.
Tim: We try to just think if we were ordering a home delivery on a Friday night to have with a glass of wine, what would we really enjoy? It’s been fun and challenging to come up with changing menus that have to be crowd-pleasing and easy to finish at home.
Louise, we love your illustrations and artwork on the menus. Have you enjoyed exploring that creative side?
Louise: I LOVE being creative and thank you. I have always had a very creative side and have been drawing forever, so to be able to put it on menus, and make things look nice, is a joy! I have even had people asking me to do their wedding stationery, which is such an honour.
What has been one of your favourite dishes on Lola’s menu?
Louise: I love when Tim does a Japanese menu so pretty much everything and anything on those menus. Otherwise, I would go with the sole a la meunière.
Tim: I think the Turbot or Brill en papillote with spring vegetables has been my favourite. It’s the first main course we prepared but it’s perfect for this medium as it’s simple and delicious and quite forgiving.
And what seems to be one of the key favourites with your punters? (I loved the beetroot soup!)
Louise: We’ve had a good response to the chilled soups, but also our crab and saffron tart seems to be a favourite.
Tim: The Sarah Bernhardt Louise cakes which are a traditional danish treat, hazelnut macaroon, chocolate ganache and dipped in tempered chocolate. And the cheese crackers people always comment on.
Louise: Ha ha! Yes, the cheese crackers for sure!!
Any real highlights in 2021, despite the worst efforts of Covid?
Louise: Nothing to do with food, but with the deliveries we’ve been able to have nights off and spend a lot of time as a family with our son, which we probably wouldn’t have been able to had we worked in a restaurant, so really grateful for that.
Tim: As much as we enjoy the home deliveries, we did a pop-up guesthouse weekend at our friends Polly Wilkinson and Ben Weller’s cottage, Carnacalla in Sennen. Even though it was just two nights it reminded us why we want to have our own little place, especially the interaction with guests and being able to create a beautiful space for guests to enjoy.
We also love the look for the HOLAN Collective dinners. Can you tell us more about them?
Louise: Sorry that this has already come and gone, but hopefully more to come. It was so much fun and we are good friends with Harri who runs it. Cooking and serving in a tiny gallery was something else – in the best possible way. It teaches you to be creative with your cooking and people are quite impressed with what is possible with such a small space and no oven!
How would you spend an ideal day off when you can kick back and relax?
Louise: I would sit and knit all day! Maybe go for a walk, pick lots of flowers, paint and listen to music. Tim would be out all day surfing :) But we have a two year old, so total relaxation will be several years off in the future.
What are your plans for the future?
Louise: Big plans… we are still looking for a little guesthouse we can run with a small team. Grow some veg and lots of flowers and hopefully be able to welcome lots of people to eat and enjoy themselves.
But for the nearer future our one acre garden cafe/shop in Padstow will be a summer dream, hopefully.