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Shop local - How wedding caterers reinvented their business in lockdown to open new shop

PUBLISHED: 10:31 20 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:51 20 October 2020

Ian Dickson of the Smokehouse Kitchen in Ipswich  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Ian Dickson of the Smokehouse Kitchen in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

A new smokery has opened in Ipswich, after a wedding catering company reinvented itself during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Smokehouse Kitchen in Ipswich  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Smokehouse Kitchen in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Until this year Ian Dickson and Andrew Ward worked as wedding caterers, usually doing around 150 weddings a year.

When the country went into lockdown back in March the pair were left with no income and time on their hands.

As events catering was no longer an option they started Smoke House Kitchen on Woodbridge Road in Ipswich.

The Smokehouse Kitchen in Ipswich  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Smokehouse Kitchen in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

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Mr Dickson said: “We had to reinvent ourselves in another way otherwise the business would have had to close and we would have just gone home. But we were up for a fight so we’ve tried to do this and it seems to be working quite well.

“For the last two years, we’d been doing a little bit of smoking, but just for our own tables.

The Smokehouse Kitchen in Ipswich  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Smokehouse Kitchen in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

“Never anything serious, because we didn’t have the time or the energy to get stuck into it properly. But when lockdown started I invested in a couple of commercial smokers.

“We started to experiment for maybe two and a half months until we felt we were happy with the products so we gave them out to friends and family for some feedback.

“And then in the in the middle of August, we opened up to sell to the public.

“It’s gone really quite well ever since.”

The Smokehouse Kitchen in Ipswich  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDThe Smokehouse Kitchen in Ipswich Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

But this is not the first time Mr Dickson has had to reinvent himself.

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Before the financial crash of 2008 he had worked as a project manager for the Ministry of Defence, but after being made redundant he started up as a wedding caterer.

Now, the pair are smoking everything from cheese to chicken wings over a mix of oak and mesquite wood – preferring Suffolk produce wherever possible.

Mr Dickson said they pride themselves on their delicate smokey flavour which allows the flavour of the food “as it was meant by the producer” to shine through.

In the run up to Christmas the Smoke House Kitchen is launching festive products including smoked Suffolk hams and smoked Suffolk turkey crowns.

You can find more information about the Smoke House here.


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