My name is Cait Salanson and I am the Managing Director of Winchester-based catering company, The Little Kitchen Company, and the proud mother of three young children, Arthur, 8, Jack, 7, and Molly, 4.
Five years ago, I left my high profile and demanding position as a Regional Director of HSBC to turn my passion for creating delicious, imaginative, and hand-made food into my own catering business. I started off cooking my first business lunch for just four people in 2011. It was incredibly exciting to secure my first “sale” and when they told me how delighted they were with the food and my service I was ecstatic! I had a dream of one day having my own premises, where I could create delicious real food, utilising local ingredients, served in relaxed and attractive surroundings.
Achieving this with three young children has been a huge undertaking. As a parent and businesswomen, I have had to fit both the demands of a new business, learning as I go, around my young family. Despite long hours and the challenge of starting from absolutely nothing – no capital, no premises, no reputation and no client base – with the help of my supportive husband, The Little Kitchen Company continues to grow and succeed as my wonderful children do too!
The experience of being a working mother has had a major influence on the way I run the company, many of my staff, including those in senior positions, are also mothers with young children. I’ve always felt that, as a society, we undervalue the skills and experience of many women – especially those who have left successful careers to start a family and then find that the role they left has changed, no longer exists, or cannot accommodate their (sometimes only temporary) need for flexibility. As my company grew, I made a conscious decision that I would provide the sort of working conditions that would attract these people and enable them to use their talents to the full. Having proved it is possible to be successful and raise a family, four of the six senior positions within my company are held by mothers with young children. This includes the Deputy Director, Senior Event Manager, Marketing Manager and Kitchen Manager. In addition, my Executive Chef is a dad and primary carer for his children.
The Little Kitchen Company is now multi-award-winning and encompasses two premises, The Little Kitchen Bistro situated in the Winchester Golf Academy, and The Little Kitchen Cafe, based in the AGC Museum on Romsey Road. We also operate out of commercial kitchens where my team can be creative and deliver amazing food to all of our clients. As a catering company, we create bespoke menus for weddings, christenings, large corporate parties and events across Hampshire and Dorset and offer a completely flexible and personalised approach to each and every event we undertake.
Putting my home and family experiences into the business, both The Little Kitchen Bistro and The Little Kitchen Cafe give parents a place to relax and enjoy their own meal knowing there are tempting dishes and excellent facilities for their children too. When you’re a parent yourself, you understand just how important that is!
Running my own business has allowed me to work as hard as I ever did, but in a different way, when you’re building something for your family you feel differently about the long hours and rewards. Being my own boss has also meant I can be there for my family when they need me – to see the school play, or collect from school as well as hopefully, them seeing me as a good role model and a successful working mum.
Never resting on my laurels, in the next five years I will be seeking new ways to grow the business, hopefully adding new premises, providing more opportunities to local people and many more award wins, whilst always providing the level of service and attention to detail that we always have.
For more information about my company visit: www.thelittlekitchencompany.com