From weddings to wakes, food fads and culinary companies – EJ Catering celebrates 20 years in business

In 1999, Emma Jenkins returned from five years travelling and was determined to start her own business.

Equipped with a love of food and her step-mum’s kitchen, she embarked on a culinary journey, determined to transform bland beige buffets and old fashioned silver service by providing new, exciting catering choices.

Two decades on, she runs a successful, bespoke catering company, feeding hungry wedding guests, corporate clients and party-goers with a range of mouth-watering dishes.

When she started out, she had no mobile phone, email address or social media account, but a real enthusiasm to have fun and produce real food, homemade food with a fun team around her.

The hard work paid off. EJ Catering now caters for around 60 weddings a year as well as dozens of corporate events, including the True Taste awards, Iron man and the upcoming Game of Thrones season finale celebration in the Depot, Cardiff.

Mum-of-two Emma said: “Things were so different back then and there wasn’t that much competition from other companies to be honest. I got my mates to help me out and we just had so much fun. The very first wedding I did, one of my team started playing the piano in the reception and she was absolutely brilliant. We used to dance at the end of the night and really enjoy ourselves and that became our USP.

“Wedding were much bigger then. A normal wedding would cater for 160-220 but that’s almost unheard of now. Most weddings these days cater for 60-120. Also, I didn’t see a groom for the first 10 years but that’s really changed now. Grooms play a much larger role now. I think there are a lot more foodie men out there than there used to be.”

Emma also caters for large corporate business events, but she’s noticed that most business clients no longer have kitchens in house: “There is also a trend to go for healthier options with less carbs (no sandwiches, more fresh salads and greens). Everyone expects better quality food and service and value for money.

“Food has become really interesting with the introduction of street food and using different cuts from animals like brisket, flat irons and belly. Many of my couples come from London with really fresh ideas and I’m always happy to guide, learn and accommodate them. There is a real trend for pintos and tapas at the moment so I’m travelling out to San Sebastian soon to really experience how they do it there.

Emma is determined to keep standards high and just wants to get better and better: “For me, it’s about quality over quantity, and that’s my main focus looking forward. We sometimes cater for three weddings a day but I wouldn’t take on anymore. It’s their special day and I want to make sure they get the absolute best service.”

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