‘I oversee the day-to-day operation of the Café. Looking after our customers is a key part of my role, and I very much enjoy chatting to them and want to ensure that their time at the Café always exceeds their expectations.’
In anticipation of our evening dining event taking place at the Farm Shop Café on Saturday the 12th November, which will celebrate the bountiful produce of autumn, Matilda Reid interviewed Emma about her time as manager at the Café so far.
Meet the Team with Emma Hague, Manager at the Cowdray Farm Shop Café
- Describe your job as Cowdray’s Café Manager?
I oversee the day-to-day operation of the Café. Looking after our customers is a key part of my role, and I very much enjoy chatting to them and want to ensure that their time at the Café always exceeds their expectations. Training and motivating my team are also top of the list. To get the best from them, it’s important to provide them with the correct tools for the job. I also work closely with our Head Chef Ben on key dishes to promote as well coming up with new food and drink ideas. It is also important to be aware of any new food and drink trends emerging.
- What first attracted you to work at Cowdray, and how long have you been in your role?
Next March I would have been here 10 years! I saw the job of Café Manager advertised but had never actually been to Cowdray before. When I came here, I thought ‘wow!’ I have never taken for granted the stunning location of the Café – I feel lucky to work in such a beautiful environment.
You work hard at Cowdray, but it is an incredible place. You are recognised as an individual and well looked after. The Estate is also ever changing and growing which means there are always challenges to keep me on my toes.
- What changes have you seen over this time?
The Café has grown in popularity massively over the last ten years. We have really focused on ensuring customers receive first class service alongside high-quality, diverse food which is all made in-house.
I am proud that we serve wild Cowdray Estate venison on the menu alongside many other delicious dishes. We also cater for many different tastes including a wide range of choice for vegans. Our vegan chocolate chia slices are very popular and currently we have a vegan sweet potato and spinach korma on the menu.
Trends have also changed a lot over the last decade, with a huge focus on coffee. We sell a lot of unicorn lattes. A few years ago, no one had ever heard of them.
- What is the best aspect of your role? And the most challenging?
My Team! I couldn’t do it without them, they are always willing and happy to go the extra mile with a smile. My Deputy Manager Anna is great and puts up with me on daily basis, helping run our team of 15. During the summer months the team grows to about 30 as we are so busy.
The most challenging aspect is managing the rota as well as sorting out the till system when it crashes on a busy service day. It’s important to remain calm, and work out how to balance everyone’s needs.
- Do you have a favourite item on the menu?
Wild Cowdray Venison Koftas. They are so yummy.
- Is it hard to teach staff how to make a good cup of coffee?
Don’t underestimate how difficult it is to make a perfect cup of coffee! It is very hard, and most people take about six weeks to be able to perfect the art (which not everyone is able to do). There is a real technique to it. The quality of the milk and coffee beans are also key.
- Are you involved in the Evening Dining at the Café?
Yes, I am running the next dinner with takes place on Saturday 12th November, where we will host an amazing four course dinner. There are still tickets available, find out more here.
- What skills do you have that make you suited to being a manager?
I enjoy motivating people and I lead by example. I love working in the Café and talking to customers; there’s nothing that I would expect my team to do, that I don’t do myself. I am also able to listen, and as a manager you must remember that everyone’s different, and each member needs to be managed differently.
- If you could only choose one thing to buy from Cowdray Farm Shop or Cowdray Living, what would it be?
- Is there a location on the Estate that you particularly like?
Walking on the Lawns in the early morning, with my Jack Russell Tigger who is 20! I never get bored of the stunning views. It’s so peaceful and sets me up for the day.
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love to exercise! Be it walks in the country or personal training with my trainer Milly. I enjoy spending time with my husband Andy and my family and cooking them dinner.
- Have you got a favourite holiday destination?
Andy and I go to the Highlands every January. I just love it there – it is so remote and a great way to declutter my brain. Andy goes deer stalking and I love walking, cooking, and chilling out.
13. What can’t you live without?
My family, the gym and chia seeds.
Find out more about our evening dining experience at the Cowdray Farm Shop Café here.
Written by Matilda Reid.Back to News