HOMECOOKING is at the heart of The Weir Café in Taunton, with dishes and cakes made from scratch by their talented chef.

Wendy Edwards, 47, has only been cooking professionally for two years after working in retail for most of her life.

Wendy said: “I’ve always cooked during my home life. I grew up on a farm (near Weston-Super-Mare) and everyone around me cooked – it was quite normal to make everything from scratch.

“A job came up here and we had just bought a house around the corner. We used to come here a lot for lunch. So I am very much local.

“I thought I would be making coffees and so on, but it was great I loved it straight away. I started doing a bit more cooking and I think everyone realised that actually, I could cook.”

Somerset County Gazette:

Peter Hood and his wife Karen own both The Shed and The Weir in Taunton.

The Weir café in French Weir park is situated alongside COACH (Centre for Outdoor Activity Community Hub), which is a charity that promotes community values with active and sporting events.

COACH is home to Channel Adventure, Taunton Adventurous Sports and Canoe Club, Taunton Rowing Club, Longrun Meadow parkrun, Applebees Fitness, SASP, Hartbeeps, Taunton Line Dancing, Wild Swimming and Cycle Somerset.

Wendy added: “The Weir is a really big community café. I really enjoy working here.

“We have park run on a Saturday and it is bonkers here afterwards, it is super busy with runners and dogs and so on.

“In the week there are lots of different groups in the rooms upstairs. There is a yoga group, a health visitors group.

“There’s also a group of cyclists that meet from here too. The park is so busy, and mums will come after school with their children. It is really lovely.”

Somerset County Gazette:

The menu at The Weir is brunch and lunch with a mixture of dishes such as homemade beans on toast, harrisa (chilli pepper paste) roasted tomatoes, smashed avocado, as well as a selection of tiger bread rolls.

“Our tiger bread rolls and our scones are really popular. We introduced the avocado on toast in the summer and the beans have evolved with harissa tomatoes” Wendy said.

“My favourite dish to eat is definitely the harissa tomatoes. They can be vegan without the feta cheese. They are lovely.

“We buy little cherry tomatoes, roast them with harissa and sundried tomato oil. They are simple but tasty.

“In the summer we make a different salad bowl each week.

“We might offer one with lentils and mint, we also do a salad with peas, mint and lemon, and soy beans with feta cheese. They are all different.

“We make a really good tomato salad – a tomato panzanella – in the summer which has capers and fresh tomatoes, it is delicious. They are always fresh salads in the summer.

“I get influenced by what is fresh at the moment, as well as what I see on TV and so on.”

One ingredient that Wendy loves is sundried tomatoes – she explained that you can do so much with them. They add depth and flavour to many dishes including shepherds pie and The Weir’s smoky beans.

Wendy also bakes a lot of cakes including brownies, Australian crunch and tiffin, but her speciality is cinnamon scones.

After living in America for a year while studying photography, she realised that in America they use cinnamon sugar on everything.

So, she decided to try it at The Weir. And the cinnamon scones have become very popular.

Somerset County Gazette:

Wendy said: “My favourite cake to bake is chocolate and beetroot cake. So, I used the beetroot juice to colour the icing. It is really rich, a dark beautiful colour and the texture is great.

“I also make vegan scones, which I started making for Veganuary. A few of the girls that work here are vegan and I don’t think you can really tell the difference between the vegan and the normal ones which is great.

“I love it here because it is so friendly, it is a real community hub. We have lots of customers that are regulars and we see them once or twice a week at least.

“It is just a really great place to be.”

To find out more about The Weir visit coach-taunton.org.uk/the-weir or email info@theweirtaunton.co.uk

Somerset County Gazette: