.RITZ-TRAINED CHEF TAKES YOU BACK IN TIME AT VINTAGE TEA EMPORIUM.
By Jane McFarlane
From training as a pastry chef to the exacting standards of the Ritz Hotel in London, Matt Jesson’s career has come full circle.
He now runs the Vintage Tea Emporium, in Uttoxeter, with his wife Samantha, a business they have owned for the last two years.
After many years of Matt being away from home running pubs and restaurants for other people, Samantha decided it was time the two of them spent more time together and they started looking for a cafe.
As soon as they went into the tea rooms on Market Place they fell in love with it.
“We inherited a lot of the decor because it used to be a soft furnishings shop with a café attached, and I just loved it as soon as I saw it,” said Samantha.
“We live in Alrewas and ideally wanted somewhere closer to home but this was just perfect for us.
“We run it as a real family affair,” she said. “We do it all – the cooking, the waiting on, and even our three children are involved, doing shifts for us.”
Former nurse Samantha had been a stay-at-home mum for 20 years looking after Sophie, 22, Tom, 20, and 16-year-old Teddy, but had always been the person friends went to when they needed a birthday cake baking.
“I’m completely self-taught,” she said. “So I do all the cakes, including celebration cakes, but Matt does the scones.
“I just can’t do scones – he says I’m too heavy with the dough or something!”
As well as providing a full daytime menu of drinks, snacks, lunches and cakes, the Vintage Tea Emporium is famed for its afternoon teas, which feature a choice of delicate finger sandwiches, scones, cakes and petits fours all served on a china cake stand.
“Afternoon tea is really popular at the moment,” said Samantha. “I don’t think it ever went away but people have really embraced it again now.
“We do parties, hen parties, baby showers and we’ve even done funeral teas in our function room.
“People tell us they love the atmosphere in here, the old-fashioned music and old-fashioned customer service is really important to us too.
“I also did my alcohol licence so if anyone wants to add a little something extra to their afternoon tea they can have a glass of wine or prosecco.”
The couple completely refitted the kitchens, ripping out domestic appliances and replacing them with state-of-the-art commercial equipment more suited to Matt’s talents and were delighted to earn a five-star cleanliness rating during their first year.
“It’s not easy starting up a new business and we really wanted to be part of the community, so we use as many local suppliers as we can, with meat from the local butchers, fruit and veg from Waynes the greengrocers, bread and teacakes from Spencers of Ashbourne and even our stationery comes from the shop next door,” said Samantha.
“To keep market towns like Uttoxeter busy we have to work together and support each other.”
And the icing on the cake for the couple in their venture so far was to receive a ‘Finest Tea Rooms in England’ award from This England magazine in 2018.
“It was done as a secret shopper type thing,” recalls Samantha.
“I am pretty sure I remember the couple coming in.
“They said they’d had a long journey and they were visiting tea rooms on their holidays.
“They asked if they could have afternoon tea and I very nearly said no because they need to be pre-booked!
“I ask people to pre-book because they take time to set up and I like to decorate my cakes properly and lay it all out nicely, but I thought, go on then, I will – and I’m so glad I did!”
By Jane McFarlane – Derby Telegraph and online at Derbyshire Live
Source Derbyshire Live