AMERICAN-Italian chef, Giada De Laurentiis said: “Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love.”

While the food part maybe true for Fran and Toby Doar who run Simply Cooking, but in their case you should add an Alsatian dog.

The reason is this, Toby (before he knew Fran) wanted to buy a dog and she was selling a dog.

So he went around to buy the dog (a bitch to be correct). When he got there he realised he did not want the dog, but if he didn’t buy the dog then he would not see Fran again.

He was bale to keep seeing Fran when he took his dog walking so after a while a romance blossomed all down to the dog Toby did not want.

Fast forward 15 years and we see Toby is a beef farmer with 25 cows and Fran is a successful baker, not just of cakes but pies, puddings and lasagne’s to name a few.

Somerset County Gazette:

The two of them have a shop and a farm at Spirehill Farm, Thornhill, Stalbridge, Dorset which is open from Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

They also have a stall at the following farmers markets: first Saturday of the month at Shaftesbury, third Friday of the month at Sherborne, Each Wednesday at Wells, Each Thursday at Taunton .

It was while Toby was at Taunton Farmers’ Market, entertainment reporter, Lawrence John, found out more about Simply Cooking.

Toby explained Fran was a professional cook who had always worked in the catering business, having previously run a commercial kitchen and a shop.

She is however an excellent baker and while some cooks have difficulty getting a sponge to rise, Fran has never failed and she cooks 20 sponges at a time.

Fran does get help from two other women who work for her as she would simply not be able to meet demand doing it on her own.

She produces cakes like Lemon Victoria Sponge, Victoria Sponge, Chocolate sponge, country fruit cake, Sacheatorte, coffee and walnut sponge plus almond slices, carrot cake, flapjacks, Honey, lemon and almond, Tiffin, apricot and almond tart, Somerset apple cake, squidgy chocolate roll and Mincemeat and apple.

Somerset County Gazette:

Not only does she cook cakes she makes pies and lasagne’s using the beef from the cattle which her husband keep.

One of the unique attractions of Simply cooking is as a customer if you are having a dinner party or a special meal, you can take an empty dish to them and order the food you want.

This can be one of the dishes on the website and it can be put in your size dish. The meal can be tailor made for you if you are allergic to anything or do not what an item included in the food.

All you have to do is pay for the meal in the size of dish you have brought.

Somerset County Gazette:

The beef from the cattle which Toby rears includes: beef in Guinness, farmers beef stew, Steak and Kidney pie, Steak and Stilton pie, Cottage pie, Lasagne, Bobotie and Chilli Beef Hotpot.

There are also separate chicken and vegetable dishes.

Toby who runs the stall at Taunton Farmers’ Market said he did this on his day off from farming and enjoyed getting in the car,driving for 45 minutes, setting up the stall, selling the products and meeting people.

Somerset County Gazette:

Toby’s family was not farmers, indeed his dad was a musician but they lived in a village where there were farms.

So it perhaps it was not surprising he became a farmer and went onto to study farming at Dorset Agricultural College.

He said: “We would like to grow our own vegetables to use in the pies.

“We tried it once but cattle farming and growing vegetables did not work. Maybe we will try again. At the moment I have a herd of 25 cows (grass fed beef in all of their beef products) I would like to have about 12 but we need at least 20 to keep up with demand for meat “Fran sees what she is doing as ‘local food for local people’. I get great satisfaction in rearing the cattle.

“Indeed one of the cows gave birth to a calf just before I left .

“The pressure comes from having people who rely on you and the pressure from getting it right each time. It is satisfying when a customer buys something and then returns and says how happy they were with their food.

Somerset County Gazette:

“We have a number of regular customers, some who buy the same items each week, while others try new things.

“I like to think what we do does go above and beyond what people expect of a market stall.

“You certainly get to know your customers rather than if you worked in a supermarket.

“Fran is very committed to her work and does work long hours.

She is very good at what she does and is very consistent in producing good quality food. We work very well together.

“We would not want to do anything else, there is nothing else I have found I would want to do.”

You can see the complete list of food made by Simply Cooking online at Go to shop and services, scroll down until you see Simply Cooking (cakes and pies) and click on this for more details.

You can also find the shop at 8,Spirehill Farm,Thornhill, Stalbridge, Dorset DT10 2SG or Tel: 01963 364 445.