NICKNAMED caterpillar at the age of three, after she was known to be the first and last eating at a family buffet, Pip Coughlan has always been passionate about food.

At the age of 14, she had a job washing up in a kitchen and then began college at 17. At 18, she worked in a commercial kitchen and then eventually worked her way into the restaurant scene.

In 2014, Pip opened up Pip’s Railway Carriage Café in the heart of South Petherton. The café sits alongside the Trading Post Farm Shop.

The Trading Post Farm Shop is just off the A303, and sells a selection of organic vegetables, locally sourced food and drink and locally crafted gifts. The Trading Post has recently won a Muddy Stilettos award for being the best farm shop/deli in Somerset.

The café consists of a gorgeous 1890s Railway Carriage filled with tables and a marquee with a double decker bus, which has views over the Somerset hills.

Two years ago, Pip’s husband Gary Coughlan, joined to help and allow Pip to have more time with her children.

Pip said: “After working in restaurants, I wanted to take food back to its roots so to speak, to work direct with Steve the farmer here at The Trading Post, and finally have a creative outlet where I could do what I wanted to do for myself.

“When I first started working at the café, it was so quiet they only needed one staff member a day to do everything. I slowly built up trade and started leasing the carriage as my own and a year and half later we got very busy, so I decided to buy a double decker bus with adjoining marquee.

“I decorated, painted, begged and borrowed furniture and fittings to get the project done and we also moved the kitchen into the back from the tiny carriage to create more work space. I must add now, it has all been professionally decorated and looking much better, we have grown organically through this.”

The railway carriage itself was already at The Trading Post, filled with plants and used mainly as a greenhouse, until Pip turned it into a café. Pip added the bus in 2016.

Somerset County Gazette:

Pip’s love of cooking does not just stem from her love of food, but also from her grandad (who was a head chef for 40 years) and her husband who is also a chef.

Pip explained: “I love food, sharing and the memories it creates. My favourite moments are being sat with family or friends with a beautiful sharing feast.

“Constantly updating my style, creating new dishes and sourcing new ingredients keeps me passionate.

“I love meals to be full of flavour, to take you back to memories of faraway travels or simple memories of mums food.

“I try to create something for everyone and I continue to experiment and come up with new ways to cook and serve my dishes.”

Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking has also been a huge influence on Pip and she admitted that she is a big fan of Thai or Mexican dishes.

She loves lots of spice with herbs, citrus and salty sweet flavours. However, she does tone down the spice at the café to suit the customers.

Pip added: “We make everything we can in house, but also source some lovely products locally. I am a big believer of supporting local suppliers and we are blessed with some great producers in Somerset.

“Our farm is organic and it really does speak for itself in variety and flavour. We use as much local produce as we can from our farm.”

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