The fabulous tastes of Umbria in England: Cafe Umbria

Tabby Clegg and her partner Simon Kerwin are two professional musicians based in Yorkshire, England, who fell in love with Umbria last year. Now, they visit regularly owning a houseboat on Lake Trasimeno, giving them perfect opportunity to discover the wonderful tastes and traditions Umbria has to offer.

Personal life aside, the couple have their own events management and music business plus a wedding planning business.

They launch Cafe Umbria this month, recreating the fabulous tastes of Umbria in England.

What is Cafe Umbria?

Cafe Umbria  is a new, exciting food concept we have launched in England which recreates the fabulous recipes of Umbria using both Umbrian and local Yorkshire ingredients.

Tell us where are you from and why you “dropped” in Umbria.

I live in Yorkshire, England with my partner Simon, son Oliver, two cats and a horse and first visited Umbria in 2012. I instantly fell in love with the area, culture, food and people.

My partner Simon and I were looking to buy a property in Italy and had booked to stay in Abruzzo and look at some properties there when we decided to try and find a houseboat, as we have two boats in England. By chance there was a houseboat for sale on Lake Trasimeno, moored at the sailing club in Castiglione del Lago and we knew it was perfect!

What inspired you to start a food concept based on Umbrian recipes?

Since I was a little girl I had wanted to cook and I love great ingredients and real cooking.

Simon and I are both professional musicians and we have a business which supplies musicians for events and also organizes weddings and events. At the start of 2013 we decided to focus our wedding planning part of the business to be Italian themed events in the UK and it seemed a great opportunity to cook if we did all the catering elements ourselves. With our houseboat being in Umbria, and our passion for the fabulous ingredients and food available to us, it seemed such an easy and obvious thing for us to create Cafe Umbria!

How did you come up with the title?

Friccò di Agnello by Cafe Umbria
To be honest, the business named itself! All our food is based on Umbrian recipes and the ‘cafe’ part suggested a laid back, rustic feel. We don’t have a formal premises but are concentrating on ‘pop-up’ restaurants and catering, so it seems a great idea that we can create a Cafe Umbria wherever we go and take the fabulous taste of Umbria to people here in the UK.

What would you say would be the best qualities a “foreigner” should have to become not only a good connoisseur of Umbrian culinary traditions, but one whose cuisine could be appreciated by local people?

The best quality is Passion! I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as ‘Italian’ food, but every region, city, town and village of Italy has its own style of cooking and recipe that must be loved and appreciated. People love our Umbrian recipes here in England because we are so passionate about them. Umbria offers such great ingredients and ideas for recipes and when we combine those with fabulous local, Yorkshire ingredients our clients acquire an instant love for Umbrian food.

I wouldn’t say I was a connoisseur yet, but both Simon and I know what we love and we love sharing that passion.

Are there any people that have helped you in your research?

Lots of people have helped us, especially the wonderful people of Castiglione del

Torta al Testo by Cafe Umbria

Lago and across Umbria in the restaurants and delish who explain the food to us, how it should be cooked and introduce us to wonderful ingredients. We are never afraid to ask questions and learn and this is what we do wherever we travel in Umbria.

I have also found some fabulous traditional cook books in shops in Umbria and found some great recipes in my on-line research too.

Is there anything you found particularly challenging in launching your business?

Launching any business is challenging, but because there is something so exciting and food, launching Cafe Umbria has been much more exciting than challenging and the opportunity to meet so many people and cook for them is fantastic!

Do you have any advice for other foreigners who want to visit or live in Umbria? 

Explore and enjoy. The region is full of such friendly people and the most beautiful countryside but most importantly explore and try the local food and delicacies.

As a “foreigner” in Italy, Umbria has been the most welcoming of regions and even with some very basic Italian language skills, you will always be welcomed and assisted by an Umbrian.

Chocolate, olive oil, balsamic & strawberry cakes 
using fabulous Umbrian olive oil and chocolate
by Cafe Umbria
If you had to cook a nice meal for your Umbrian friends in just 30 minutes, what would you cook?

It would have to be a fabulous and quick Torta al Testo, stuffed with fabulous Umbrian salami, or some Porchetta I already had cooked! Or a tasty dish of Friccò d’Agnello – which I sometimes put a twist on and make with pork instead of lamb.

What are your future business plans?

We are both very busy with all our businesses but over the next few years we hope to spend more time living and working in Umbria and look forward to extending our business to hosting events and acting as an agent for events in Italy as well as the UK from music festivals to weddings, including encouraging people in the UK to get married in Umbria, or even take a fabulous music, wine or cooking tour in the most beautiful region of Italy. I’d also like to collate all our recipes into a book.

For more information on Cafe Umbria:
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