Regular visitors to Nicholsons at The Park in North Aston near Bicester will, no doubt, have already discovered the delights of the nursery’s fabulous café The Yurt. If you haven’t, and you are looking for somewhere new to eat delicious savoury dishes and incredible cakes, make this summer the time to visit. We were fascinated to learn more about how, during lockdown, these famous bakes were used to raise funds for a community project in Kenya.
So, what makes the food served at The Yurt so special? It is, of course, the creativity and expertise of the talented chefs, Enrico, Frankie and Luis, who run the kitchen.
With a particular flair for baking, Frankie’s Italian grandmother was influential in guiding her style of cooking: “My education gave me a lot of inspiration too – studying art and comics has given me a powerful imagination. I also like to watch the best French pastry chefs at work, as it gives me the motivation to create something similar.”
Earlier in the year whilst The Yurt was closed due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Nicholsons decided to use Frankie’s baking creativity to raise funds for one of the international community projects the company supports in Kenya. Back in 2017, company director Niel Nicholson visited the Maasai Mara in Kenya as part of a project to support local tribal people, engaging them in a new system of pastoralism. Located on the northern edge of the Mara, the area has enormous issues regarding overgrazing coupled with a massive reduction in woodland cover extending into neighbouring villages and into the Mau forest. As a consequence, in 2018 a site was chosen to establish a tree nursery and Liz and Niel’s eldest daughter Rosi worked with a volunteer from Nicholsons to build the Shamba tree nursery.
As part of Nicholsons’ commitment to the Maasai people, since the start of this year they have launched a fundraising initiative linked to their Yurt café. The aim was to raise money to support the 600 pupils at the Ol Meoshi primary school which is very much part of the community. The pupils have really struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic; many walking up to 5km to reach school and a high proportion of the children do so with little or no food to sustain them during their school day. Money raised provided each child with a mid-day meal for a school term.
The first cake fundraiser was launched for Valentine’s Day, followed by Mother’s Day and Easter cake sales. The aim was to raise at least £1,000 per sale. Frankie created a delicious menu of large 8” cakes for people to pre-order, including Sachertorte, Elderflower and Lemon Gateaux, Simnel cakes and eclairs filled with praline, Sicilian cassata, chocolate, and orange blossom. 100% of the income from the special cakes went towards the cause, with a third of the students already supported by the proceeds from the Valentine’s promotion.
Nicholsons is keen to continue supporting the school. Should anyone like to make a financial donation please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Nicholsons and dining at the Yurt, visit nicholsonsgb.com.