With just two shortlisted candidates for this category, both were in line for a certificate, but the winner was chosen for their sensitive and specialised approach to catering for bereaved families.
It was apparent from the real attention to detail and the thoughtful approach that this company has, that the quality of their food is matched by a personal dedication to ensuring that everything possible is done to reflect the character of the person who has died in the food provided for guests at the funeral tea.
Sandy Weatherburn accepting the award on behalf of Dawn Thompson of Claret Catering
What sets Dawn apart is her vocation to create and cater for appropriate and meaningful funeral after-parties.
Dawn is unusual among caterers in having a special calling to cater for funeral after-parties – wakes, teas, call them what you will. For Dawn, catering is not just about feeding people on happy occasions. It has always been her ambition to be the person whom families call to cater for all the special occasions of their lives from birth to death.
Dawn said: “I am not afraid to talk about death, nor do I shy away from those who are bereaved and grieving. It is my policy to always visit the family members who are arranging the wake. I am happy to sit for as long as is needed, talking and more importantly, listening to stories and memories of a person I will never meet but who will be the centre of my attention, making sure that ‘what he/she would have liked’ is catered for and taken care of. A wake is part of the rite of passage which, after the funeral, gives people “permission” to move on with their lives again.”
Dawn has even looked after the family dog whilst the bereaved family is at the crematorium.
Runner Up in this category: Tamworth Co-operative Funeral Service
In the southern states of the US they like to eat big after a funeral — heart-attack food, mostly. No polite little British ham sandwiches and finger food for Texans. It says a lot about the difference in grieving styles between us and them.
Here, a Baptist minister proposes that funeral food should be thought of as a forerunner of the heavenly banquet to come:
There are some rules everyone needs to understand about death and funerals. For starters, funerals call for a certain kind of food. There had better be chocolate cake involved, or the family is going to be left to scramble on their own for comfort foods.
We had an experience a few years ago with a death in the family, and all the food the widow’s friends brought to the house was health food. There was no green bean casserole, no fried chicken, no homemade rolls, no chocolate cake. Finally, someone in the family drove over to KFC to bring home the kind of food we all needed in the moment. And did I mention there wasn’t even a single piece of chocolate cake brought to the house?
In Texas, we’re fond of a particular type of chocolate sheet cake that’s almost as common at church gatherings as communion elements.
Is it wrong of me to think of chocolate cake as heaven-sent? I don’t think so. Too often, we think of food for the soul as what’s bland or even bitter. The Bible says, though, that we are to “taste and see, the Lord is good.”
What families need at times of loss—and what all of us need in times of distress—is a portent of the goodness of God.
If the dinner table serves up a symbol of the heavenly banquet to come, we may draw strength in the reminder that there is comfort to be found as we gather around the heavenly host, whether in worship or in fellowship, whether in comfort or in sorrow.
Congratulations, Laurie Willberg, from the hurriedly assembled team here at the GFG-Batesville Shard. Well done!
Laurie, dear reader, is the winner of Utah’s Own Funeral Potato at the Utah State Fair. Her funeral potatoes were the best in show.
Funeral potatoes are unknown in the UK but de rigueur at US funerals where the need for comfort/consolation food after the obsequies is better understood.
Americans don’t devour funeral potatoes only after funerals, they eat them whenever the mood takes them. Probably not ideal for someone watching their weight, but ideal for throwing down the hatch of a teenage boy.
2 cups grated jalapeno jack cheese (Banquet brand)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (Redmond brand)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
11/2 cup crushed yellow corn tortilla chips (Don Julio brand)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (Banquet brand)
1 jar black bean and corn salsa (Laurie’s Buffalo Gourmet)
Wash and scrub potatoes under cool water, place in a pot with enough water to generously cover. Add 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil. Cook 30 minutes or until tender, but not soft. Remove potatoes from pot and place in a colander. Run cold water over potatoes to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and dice into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a large mixing bowl.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Place potato soup mix in a medium mixing bowl. Cover with boiling water, then whisk until smooth. Add buttermilk, sour cream, jalpeno jack cheese, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Pour mixture over diced potatoes and stir gently until the potatoes are coated. Pour into prepared baking pan.
Place corn chips in a resealable plastic bag and crush. Combine crushed chips with grated cheddar cheese. Sprinkle chip/cheese mixture over the top of the potatoes in the bake pan. Bake uncovered 45 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is slightly brown.
Remove from oven and cool slightly. Serve with salsa.
Dr. Ed James is occasionally asked why he named his radio show “Funerals and Fried Chicken.”
He replies, “Not long ago, I was surrounded by friends and relatives in the basement of a church, following a funeral, and the food served was fried chicken, mac n’ cheese and assorted cakes, pies and other desert items.
I recently heard a pastor describe the meal ritual of funerals at his church; a typical meal consisted of fried chicken and mac n cheese, washed down with beverages like fruit punch.
Listening to the pastor talk, I couldn’t help but think about how such meals would inevitably lead to the next funeral.”
Seems a bit hard, perhaps, however true. A funeral is an occasion that begets an appetite for comfort, soul or, if you like, junk food high in feelgood-dobad ingredients.
Anything seems to go when it comes to coffins nowadays, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the recent craze for cupcakes has had a morbid makeover. Cupcakes, suitably adorned, have become a must-have accessory for contemporary funerals – both as an eye-catching centre piece at the wake or reception, and as a souvenir for the mourners. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, they have proved massively popular in East Anglia and the Midlands: local cupcake companies are struggling to keep up with demand and rise to the occasion. It surely won’t be long before the whole country is caught up in funeral cupcake mania. Crumbs!
With many thanks to the Manna Cupcake Company near Market Deeping
A thoroughly updated and revised edition of the Natural Death Centre‘s celebrated handbook. Now presented alongside a new collection of essays on death, dying and funeral practices by doctors, historians, authors, poets, theologians and artists including Richard Barnett, David Jay Brown, Dr Sheila Cassidy, Charles Cowling, Bill Drummond, Stephen Grasso, Maggi Hambling, Graham Harvey, Gary Lachman, Nick Reynolds, and Dignity in Dying.
SPECIAL occasions of every sort feature food and funerals are no exception. In many cultures, there are foods that are customarily served after a funeral.
The funeral cakes that were traditional in some denominations in this country, mostly Protestant, were often meant not only to provide refreshment for mourners, but also to be a token of remembrance. A pair of these cookie-like cakes, sometimes called seedcakes in old cookbooks, might be wrapped in black crepe paper or paper printed with such symbols as skulls, and given to mourners to take home as keepsakes.
In his book, ”Traditional Food in Yorkshire” (John Donald, 1987), Peter Brears, a professor at the University of Leeds in England, documented one instance when funeral cakes tied with black crepe were delivered to homes in the village as invitations to the funeral.
In the United States the custom of serving special funeral cakes has all but disappeared. But appropriately a selection of funeral cakes was offered to guests at the opening reception last week for an exhibition of gravestone carvings at Federal Hall in lower Manhattan, presented by the Museum of American Folk Art. William Woys Weaver, the food historian who researched and adapted the recipes for the reception, said: ”Funeral cakes came here from Europe. They were common in northern Europe, and today the tradition is maintained primarily in rural areas of Sweden.”
Leslie Macchiarella has a recipe for funeral cake (pictured above), which she also calls Good Luck Peach Cake. The peaches carry ancient Chinese associations of happiness, luck and immortality.