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Ilkley local business thrives during lockdown

The Ilkley Kitchen is building a reputation in the local community and continues to go from strength to strength despite lockdown.

By Clementine Hall

Marcella Mullan, entrepreneur and food lover, founded her own local business ‘The Ilkley Kitchen’ in 2016, to share the food that she loves to cook and eat with her local community.

Five years on she’s gone from strength to strength and has built up quite a reputation for her outstanding cooking within Ilkley and the surrounding areas.

Those in the know will testify that her sausage rolls alone are the best in Yorkshire. One year in lockdown and with Marcella at the helm, The Ilkley Kitchen is flourishing and giving people’s taste buds a reason to smile.

Marcella said:

"It was founded in 2016 over chatting with my girl-friend in her kitchen. Between us we have 9 hungry children and we knew that we could cook and that we had the skills.

"We knew what people like us, mothers, wanted and we knew that the type of food we made at home would be suitable for the Ilkley people.”

[caption id="attachment_7704" align="alignnone" width="1600"] The Ilkley Kitchen (@ameliabrayshaw photography)[/caption]

Marcella’s offerings include individual seasonal tarts, scotch eggs akin to the size of footballs and a selection of gorgeously decorated sweet treats. She prides herself on making all of this irresistible food with locally sourced and fresh ingredients.

Trading began at the Ilkley Real Food Market, which takes place the first Sunday of every month. From then on Marcella’s business grew and gained recognition.

Marcella added:

"In the early days we made absolutely everything from scratch, we even made our own butter for the pastry.

"I was awarded the Great Taste Award for my orange and almond cake in August 2019 and that really felt like a turning point. I launched my website that very same day and haven’t stopped since!"

Since the UK first went into lockdown last March, The Ilkley Kitchen has had to adapt its business model and find new ways to trade in order to stay open.

Through delivering food via an app named Pronto (similar to Uber Eats and Deliveroo) in the early days of lockdown, to then opening a stall at a smaller weekly Saturday market created by the Bradford council to replace the monthly Sunday market which could no longer go ahead due to Covid.

Marcella told us how these obstacles have not stopped her and The Ilkley Kitchen; they have only made her stronger:

"The biggest challenge has been working by myself during the pandemic.  I had just found my premises kitchen in January and two months later everything just closed down.

"All the people that I supply to, all the beloved cafes that I love to support and who support me, the phone, the texts, the emails, the orders, it literally all just stopped overnight and it was pretty scary.

"It’s been absolutely phenomenal how Ilkley has supported me.  When I have a day off I sometimes walk through the Ilkley car park with my dog and look into the window of my kitchen and I just feel so in awe of the kitchen.

"That’s not in awe of me, it’s just in awe of how The Ilkley Kitchen is providing something nice and good to the people of Ilkley through such a difficult time. I like to make people happy and I’m proving it day in, day out by creating lots of lovely food.”

[caption id="attachment_7706" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The Ilkley Kitchen (@ameliabrayshaw photography)[/caption]

Marcella and other stall holders have worked extremely hard to ensure the market is Covid-friendly and safe for the public. Trading takes place outside with social distancing and all Covid safety measures in place.

The market has proven to be a lifeline for the local community, giving people a reason to get out of the house in a Covid-secure environment to interact and support with local businesses.

"Customers’ shopping and eating habits have shifted during lockdown, there’s been more emphasis on healthy and local food with a lot more support for local businesses. The compliments I get aren’t particularly about the food now it’s about ‘wow, well done Marcella and The Ilkley Kitchen, you’re still going’."

In light of International Women’s Day it’s brilliant to celebrate Marcella’s successes as she leads her own business which consists of mostly female employees:

"I’m very proud of myself. I found my mojo at 50 and so in the last 3 years I’ve achieved things which I never thought I could achieve. I’ve got a good support network around me who are mostly women and we support each other. A lot of my clients are women and I learn from them every day."

The Ilkley Kitchen is an example of a business that would not have survived if it weren’t for the amazing support given by the general public.

Whilst adapting to numerous challenges and ongoing lockdown restrictions, Marcella still holds onto her core value of serving the best, freshest and most delicious food for the people of Ilkley and the surrounding areas:

"The Ilkley Kitchen is going places and I’m definitely not going to stop now. The support has been amazing.

"It’s important to me that I make the right choices for the Ilkley Kitchen with how much work I can take on without losing its loveliness, kindness, humour and personal flair that I try to add into everything I do."

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