We arrive at Sharpenhurst Farm near Horsham in West Sussex one sunny summer afternoon, to a truly unique and beautiful venue. Louise (the owner), her husband and the venue team are so welcoming and we can’t wait to get started. Totally private and tucked away in a valley, with gorgeous views over Sussex’s undulating countryside, each individual on Kelmsley’s team arrives with comments on just how picturesque a place this is for a rustic wedding reception. As we explore, it keeps getting better – not only do we have a fully-functioning and spacious kitchen at our disposal, we also have the pleasure of being able to work in one of the prettiest country barns any of us have ever seen.
Traditional bunting, stylish floral arrangements and tasteful detailing have made this into a really atmospheric space, and we’re keen to check the tables are laid out in perfect silver-service style, ready for one of our more challenging wedding breakfasts.
In the kitchen, it’s all hands on deck. Jacqueline, our head chef and Director of Kelmsley Catering & Events, has a fresh Clayfield’s Farm free-range pig to prepare on our Hog Roast Machine, ready for the main course.
Once our hand picked, perfectly chubby piggy is nicely salted and flavoured with rosemary & garlic, he’ll be served with:
We’ll get to cooking the other ingredients later – for now; the pig is roasting and will do so for over 7 hours. We need to get to work preparing the canapés! Nikki, George and Carol are busy coordinating the team in the kitchen to get the first round of food prepared.
Right now, it’s 1pm, and we’re looking forward to greeting the 120 guests who have travelled from the ceremony, currently being held in the nearby church. Our freshly-made, hand-selected canapés are ready to go – here’s what the Bride & Groom chose for their big day:
We greeted the Bride & Groom with their specially prepared welcome drinks. The weather is sunny and bright enough for guests to mill about the manicured lawns and rustic outbuildings of this lovely venue, while enjoying the canapés, bottled lager, Pimms and selection of soft drinks from our al fresco bar.
The speeches follow, and despite the occasional language barrier (we have guests from all over Europe today – the Bride is French and the Groom Spanish – this made for some interesting communication methods, including much hand waving!) and all we hear is delighted laughing and the enthusiastic clinking of champagne flutes. It has to be one of the most joyful combinations of sounds there is, no matter what your native tongue.
It’s time for the wedding breakfast, and we have a very special starter - Fois Gras with Figs & Freshly Baked Bread. This goes down a real treat, and is accompanied particularly well by the crisp, sweet Italian Chardonnay chilling in each table’s ice bucket.
After we’ve cleared the tables of completely empty plates (always a good sign), we’re ready to serve the main course – our slow-roasted free range hog roast with all his hand-made trimmings.
Having already carved the best cuts of meat, the team is sent out with platters of steaming porky goodness to serve by hand at each individual table. It doesn’t take long before we’re coming around with seconds – the pork is perfectly succulent and incredibly moreish, and we give our Hog Roast machine a little pat on the back for being so very efficient and industrious. The team is also thrilled to receive a generous plate each as well!
Dessert is already taken care of – in fact, it’s currently in pride of place in the centre of The Barn, waiting to be cut by the happy couple. Expertly filled and decorated fresh on site by Jacqueline, this lemon sponge, lemon curd & vanilla cream Naked Wedding Cake sits perfectly in this countryside-themed space.
After cake is cut and served on quaint white china plates with fresh cream and berries, it’s time to set up the indoor bar for the evening and clear some tables to make room for the dance floor.
A selection of spirits and mixers, bottled beers, wines, bubbles and juices are in full flow – and we have full confidence that this wonderfully energetic crowd will have a night to remember. We know we have!
The party is still is full swing, so just to make sure nobody gets peckish or thirsty, the hosts have arranged for us to prepare a sandwich and exotic fruit buffet, and to lay out a ‘DIY Bar’ before we depart. After this is all taken care of, it’s time for us to say our goodbyes and give our very best wishes to the family and guests, as we get ready to trundle on home through the country lanes while the guests party on until the small hours.
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