An introduction by Robert Jarman
I have known Sarah Willes, since before she started BLUES AGENCY in 1978, and can confirm that she has always taken her cooking very seriously, and takes a great personal pride in everything she does, so it is no surprise to me that her Agency is still thriving 36 years later, and her client list reads like a Who’s Who of the West End, and the City.
Sarah completed her Cordon Bleu diploma in 1971 and worked in a wide range of jobs from teaching at the Cordon Bleu School to cooking director’s lunches for Sir James Goldsmith. Her current clients include a number of ‘household names’ but their identities are never revealed; another example of the discretion for which BLUES has become well-known, and is so appreciated by their clients.
For over 30 years Blues Agency has been providing cooks, waiting staff, butlers and kitchen hands to corporate and private clients. They provide staff for positions in the UK and abroad, be it temporary or permanent and their main priority is to ensure that the skills, experience and personality of their staff match the expectations of their clients.
Blues Agency prides itself on building long term relationships with both its Clients and Candidates through their consultative and professional approach. They tailor their procedures to clients’ needs as they appreciate everyone is different.
As proof of their commitment and dedication to providing the best service for their clients, despite the bad weather over Christmas, Blues cooks still managed to produce excellent food, as this quote from one of their clients confirms:
“We had major power cuts before Christmas and your cook in her wonderfully calm, unflappable way soldiered on and produced delicious canapés for 70 (all with a head torch on!!!!) and as for the rest of the Christmas, made it the best we have ever had cooking delicious meal after delicious meal.”
Another testimonial confirms this commitment:
‘Both Walt and I have been given many presentations in London and have been hosted by some of the biggest companies but I have to tell you that the lunch you set up was the very best we have ever had.’
In order to guarantee the quality of their cooks, many are recruited directly from some of the world’s best cookery schools:
Ashburton Cookery School; Ballymaloe Cookery School, Ireland; Edinburgh New Town Cookery School, Le Cordon Bleu; Leith’s School of Food and Wine; Prue Leith’s Cookery School, South Africa; Silwood Kitchen, Cape Town; Tante Marie School of Cookery.
All of the above cookery schools run professional cookery courses from between three months to three years, and are well recognised within the catering industry.
In addition to this they run Master Classes for their professional waiting staff, designed to thoroughly cover the needs of their clients and to keep staff up to date with all areas of service. However Blues also offer a tailor-made, on-site staff training sessions, run by Joan Herbert, who has worked alongside Blues for 30 years.
Blues will always send a member of their team to visit corporate clients in order to discuss specific requirements. They can provide cooks, assistant cooks, silver service waiting staff, butlers, meeting room assistants and hospitality staff, and kitchen porters for Directors lunches and dinners, corporate functions, catering companies, delicatessens and schools.
As well as staff for corporate clients they can provide staff for weekend house parties, dinner parties, drinks parties, major sporting events such as Ascot and Wimbledon, private houses, summer villas, seasonal lodges, winter chalets, embassies, barbeques and hampers.
All their staff, the cooks, butlers, waiting staff and kitchen hands, are subject to a rigorous interviewing and reference checking procedure before their first appointment, although many are introduced to Blues by personal recommendation. They are also provided with a set of company rules covering issues of safety, hygiene and dress code, ensuring that the high standards they expect are observed at all times.
To ensure maximum efficiency and to prevent any discrepancies or misunderstandings concerning bookings, staff are well briefed and receive a follow up text the day before the booking is to take place.
So, as you will see, the reason for BLUES long-term success is their dedication to providing the very best service for their clients in every situation, and as a friend and client of 36 years standing, I can thoroughly recommend BLUES as the ‘ultimate’ catering company and cooks agency.
For further information, please contact :
Blues Agency Limited
19 Oxberry Avenue
London SW6 5SP
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7731 7533
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7736 8132
In addition to providing first class staff for all your domestic needs, Blues have put together an indispensable cookbook, small enough to pop into your suitcase. This book is perfect for holiday cooking ideas, the clue is in the title to aid for ‘relaxed family holidays’, from Skiing holidays in the Alps, to beach holidays in Cornwall.
THE RELAXED HOLIDAY BOOK
Sarah Willes, Davina Mulford, and Hattie Deards
Foreword by Prue Leith CBE
As Prue Leith says in her Foreword to this wonderful book, ‘the Hallmark of a good cook is relaxed confidence’. No one knows this better than Sarah Willes, who, for over thirty years, through her BLUES agency, has supplied all manner of holiday cooks, from top chefs for the rich and famous, to more modest cooks, making hearty casseroles for hungry skiers.
With all-time favourites from the Blues bank of cooks, as well as contributions from well-known cooks such as Josceline Dimbleby and Sally Clarke, the recipes in this book are easily achievable, satisfying to cool, and truly delicious to eat’.
If you would like to obtain a copy, subscribers to The Vintage Magazine can buy it direct from Blues Agency www.bluesagency.co.uk at the price of £12 (twelve pounds) each, to include postage and packing.
Sarah Willes – Director and Founder of Blues Agency
Trustee and Founder of Blues in Schools
Sarah completed her Cordon Bleu diploma in 1971 and worked in a wide range of jobs from teaching at the Cordon Bleu School to cooking director’s lunches for Sir James Goldsmith. After setting up Blues in 1978 she went on to write cookery books and took on the role of governor at Gibbs Green School. She then founded the charity Blues in Schools, which runs regular cooking classes for children with learning and behaviour problems. Sarah keeps in touch with new products coming onto the market by judging for The Great Taste Awards, organised by the guild of fine food. Sarah continues to be actively involved in the running of Blues liaising with the cookery schools and advising students on how to prepare for the future.