WHEN Claire Lynch got thrown out of her needlework class at school and moved into food technology, she never envisaged that years later she’d be making a living out of her culinary skills.

If you’re from West Somerset, Claire’s Kitchen is a name you will definitely have heard of, and if you’re lucky you’ll have sampled some of her food.

Claire, who lives in Wootton Courtenay, and her dedicated team of 30, run event catering and pop up restaurants around West Somerset.

Claire also caters for weddings and events and runs successful cookery roadshows.

But what started out as an idea after a gin and tonic has led Claire on a whirlwind four years.

She said: “It’s been such an incredible experience, my husband said to me just over four years ago now after a gin and tonic, that I should run a pop up kitchen because I’ve always been really interested in cooking good food and running a bistro or something.

“I asked the village hall committee to be guinea pigs for a meal and everything has led on from that really.

“It started out just three of us but I now have a team of 30 people who work for me part-time, and there’s a great mix of age ranges, there’s some in their 70s.

“It’s always been really important to me to be part of the community here in Wootton Courtenay and do what I can.”

As well as running successful pop up restaurants around West Somerset, Claire also holds fun events to encourage the community to get cooking.

Her most recent one yesterday taught people how to make fresh pasta and bread.

Claire is also the preferred caterer for weddings at Dunster’s Tithe Barn and is recommended at many of the holiday homes in the area.

Claire added: “A lot of my ingredients are all ones that I have grown and we always use quality, fresh ingredients.

“I’ve grown up around great food – my dad is a retired stockbroker so we moved from London to Somerset and he ran a fish and chip shop with a gourmet food outlet next door selling these amazing escargots and lobster thermidor and I was always helping prep for dinner parties at home.

“My husband and I have spent around 14 years perfecting what you can do with Indian spices, so when all you might have in front of you is a potato and some cauliflower, it’s amazing what you can do with the different spices.

“It’s also really important to me to show families that you can create some great, healthy meals on a budget.

“I’ve held a few workshops for the West Somerset Food Cupboard and Magna the housing association.

“Each time we’ve had a budget and I’ve shown people how to feed a family with three different meals from a chicken and ingredients found in a food parcel.”

Claire is also no stranger to high praise – Robson Green sampled her cooking on a recent trip to West Somerset during filming for his new show.

He asked Claire if he could take her to America with him.

She added: “It was amazing, I just walked into the kitchen and I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone where I was going or what I was doing.

“Him and his crew were all really lovely and loved the food.

“I’m in the process of writing a book on gout and I’d like to run workshops on this in the future and diet and maintenance, but I’m only four pages in at the moment.”

For more information on Claire, visit www.claires.kitchen