Buckinghamshire’s very own domestic goddess, Beverley Glock
PUBLISHED: 15:00 11 November 2013 | UPDATED: 15:00 11 November 2013
A brainwave at a birthday party launched Beverley Glock’s career. Fresh from compering the Berkshire & Buckinghamshire Life Food and Drink Awards, she shares her story of success - and some delicious scones - with Karen Kay
A 21st century domestic goddess needs certain ingredients in her recipe for success: first she requires a large, shiny range cooker, at the hub of an airy kitchen, replete with a dresser stacked with carefully mismatched china. Throw in bookcases packed with well-thumbed cookery books, brightly-hued mixers and blenders, a pinch of retro-print cloth on the windows, and the aroma of freshly-baked fare… et voila! You have the home of a contemporary TV cookery queen. Of course, there is one harder-to-find ingredient that provides the essential flourish: a vibrant personality combined with accessible expertise.
Beverley Glock is Buckinghamshire’s very own celebrity cookery guru, a champion of children’s baking and the woman behind adult workshops, demonstration theatres and a prolific YouTube channel showing cooks how to improve their mastery of the kitchen.
A tall, slender 48-year-old with Barbie doll hair and a colourful line in frilly pinnies, her lissome silhouette suggests she has never consumed a cupcake or chocolate brownie in her life. Yet, when I arrive at the converted mill house on the outskirts of Princes Risborough - that is both her family home and the heart of her business - her pillarbox red Aga has just offered up a batch of mouthwatering scones.
“I just threw them together 10 minutes ago,” she says in the manner of someone for whom baking is part of their everyday life. I laugh, with the nervous anxiety of someone who finds the idea of ‘throwing something together’ utterly terrifying. We sit at a large farmhouse table, and Beverley talks about life while quickly but elegantly consuming a scone the size of a cricket ball. She is a feisty character who takes control of situations with a warm smile – think Angela Merkel meets Holly Willoughby and you’ve got the rub of this smart cookie.
Growing up in Redcar, as the only child of fishing tackle shop proprietors Marjorie and Harry, Beverley recalls her parents being glamorous and passionate ballroom dancers.
“My mother hated cooking with a vengeance,” says Beverley. “She makes brilliant home-made chips, but doesn’t get the idea of cooking for life, to feed a family nutritious food. I learned at my grandmother’s apron strings. She was thrifty and resourceful: if the milk had gone off a little, she would make scones, if it had gone way off, granddad would make cheese. Nothing ever went to waste, and they ate good, home-cooked food.”
She produces a small leatherbound notebook from a dresser, and opens it to reveal pages filled with handwritten recipes and notes in various scripts: it belonged initially to her great-grandmother, then was handed down through the generations, with new additions along the way.
“I did Food Nutrition O-level”, Beverley explains, as I ask how she developed her love of baking. “It was hands-on cooking. Not like the theoretical stuff kids do today, breaking down a cheesecake and how it can be branded and marketed.”
She raises an eyebrow as if if to say: “Don’t start me on that one”, and continues: “I told mum I wanted to do it at A-level, but she told me not to be stupid as I would never be a chef. So I went to secretarial college and did art A-level at evening classes, as I liked the idea of being a textile designer.”
At 18, Beverley moved to London and got a job in the rag trade, working as a buyers’ assistant. She ended up as a merchandiser for Pronuptia, but after three years realised the fashion industry wasn’t for her. So, she fell back on her secretarial training and began temping, but “was useless. I could never read back my own shorthand and was really quite lazy.”
Beverley met her now husband Pete while working as a secretary at British Telecom, but rapidly found herself promoted and became their National Account Manager. She notched up impressive figures and was poached by another telecoms business, where she was one of the top 100 account managers in the world.
Gabriella – known as Ellie – was born in 1996, then Maisie came along three years later, and their younger brother Max in 2002.
It was while planning Ellie’s fifth birthday party that the seeds were sown for a new career. “We had always made pizza dough on a Friday, and the kids made their own pizzas for supper, so Ellie wanted to do that with friends as a cookery party. I wanted a company to run it for me, but couldn’t find anyone, so sourced wooden rolling pins, kids’ chefs hats and aprons from a wholesaler and proceeded to plan the party myself.”
Ellie’s party was a triumph: children took away the fruits of their labour, and word spread. Beverley was asked to do parties for friends, and friends of friends.
“So I came up with the name Splat Cooking, and started doing a Cooking Party in a Box – it contained everything you needed, with detailed timings and instructions and a shopping list. But parents were petrified of hosting parties themselves, and it never really took off. Everyone kept asking me to host them, but the insurance to take the package into their homes was prohibitive.”
As a sideline, she had been importing baking items from America, where they already had a more advanced love of cookies and cupcakes. Then, in 2004, Nigella Lawson mentioned Splat Cooking in her book ‘Feast’. Beverley’s phone went mad and her product sales through the roof. Pete and Beverley moved stock from their Princes Risborough house and took over a barn across the road, took on staff and began making enough money to subsidise the insurance for parties.
“We did the first one in July 2005 and then started a cookery club at the Gateway School in Missenden. It was massively over-subscribed, so we added more sessions and now, eight years later, we still do two days a week, 16 children a day.”
Glock’s kids’ cooking school is a massive success, with a Saturday cookery club run from her home, and franchised classes in St Albans, Berkhamsted and Silverstone. She has Splat teachers running cookery parties and workshops around the country, and adult fans who love her ‘real cooking for real people’ workshops.
Bev is passionate about helping parents improve everyday cuisine. “I teach how to make simple, hearty soups, or dishes with ‘cheap cuts’ of meat. I show that bread-making isn’t scary. It’s about demonstrating that making real food is easy and affordable, and doesn’t have to be labour-intensive.”
You can download ‘Beverley Glock’s Cupcakes, Muffins and Afternoon Tea’ app for your iPad, and her first cookbook, ‘500 Baby and Toddler Foods’ was published last year – and is on second reprint after selling 70,000 copies worldwide.
Children love to bake cakes, but she is careful to balance their repertoire with savoury dishes. There is no doubt that Beverley’s enthusiasm is infectious, and her daughter Ellie – who was the inspiration for it all – is now involved as her able assistant.
Beverley regularly hosts entertaining ‘Whizz Bang’ workshops and cooking theatres at food festivals and fairs. There’s a Beverley Glock YouTube channel, and who knows what’s next for this determined domestic goddess?
“I’ve written an allergy-friendly party food book for those who can’t eat wheat, gluten, eggs and other common allergens. It’s got loads of canapés, centrepieces and party fare - that’s out being pitched to publishers at the moment. And I really love doing live TV and events: hosting the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life Food Awards, I was in my element. It was such a privilege to be compering the inaugural awards, seeing lots of local foodies being nominated for their work. I love that connection with local producers, chefs and restaurants, and to see the likes of Adam Simmonds (chef at Danesfield House, Marlow) and Steve Sidhu (founder of online Chilterns supermarket, Ten Mile Menu) recognised for their work was wonderful.”
Expect to see more of this dynamic Aga Mistress – she is unstoppable.
What does Bucks mean to you?
The Chilterns, the Thames, great schools, countryside and food. Close enough to London but with open countryside.
Your favourite Bucks view?
There is a hillock just below Pulpitt Hill which has amazing views. On a Sunday morning you can sit and listen to church bells ringing.
Your favourite place to go for an informal, affordable meal?
The Bull and Butcher at Turville: dog friendly, child friendly and great food. If it’s just the two of us, The Mole and Chicken in Easington.
Your favourite place for a speciall occasion?
The Three Crowns at Askett, or The Angel in Long Crendon.
Favourite place for coffee / tea?
Cafe Twit in Great Missenden: Kate makes the best scones and cakes.
Your favourite shop in Bucks?
Rumseys in Wendover for chocolates, K&B Family Butchers in Princes Risborough for meat and Ten Mile Menu for local food.
Where you’d spend a wet afternoon / day in Bucks?
With smaller children, the Roald Dahl Chilterns Gallery in Aylesbury or Aylesbury Vale or Chiltern Pools in Amersham.
Where you’d spend a sunny afternoon / day in Bucks?
Wendover woods. The dogs love it, it has a fab cafe and the children can go wild.
Your favourite cultural experience in Bucks? Waddesdon Manor. They have amazing events all year, but even without that, it’s lovely.
Where would you recommend a visitor to Bucks to go?
Research a pub with great food and some good walks, arrive two hours before and use footpaths to walk and discover the area before having a slap up meal.
What’s the best kept secret in Bucks?
The Chilterns. We are so close to London that people don’t think about coming out for a weekend, they’ll travel to the Cotswolds and pass through, thinking ‘Ooh, that looks pretty, must stop there some time’ but don’t. If you’re into cycling the mountain biking here is really good.