AFTER The Gazette announced its backing of Basingstoke Together’s I Buy Basingstoke campaign, we caught up with The Shabby Gourmet, who told us what business has been like during the pandemic.

The campaign involves calling on the community to get behind local businesses, and championing everyone from sole traders to major employers as lockdown restrictions are eased and life returns to some form of normality in the weeks ahead.

Speaking exclusively to the owners of The Shabby Gourmet, Simon, 61, and Maz Pennington, 51, from the village of Cliddesden, their independent business is on the road to recovery since we last learnt of their financial struggles in March 2020.

The couple’s food production line started two and a half years ago from their kitchen where they started making quality home cooked meals for freezers to high quality meals for corporate catering events.

Owner, Maz Pennington, told The Gazette: “We received a phone call from the head of Brighton Hill Community School, Mr Edwards, who said teachers were fundraising and wanted to feed staff at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, and asked whether we could provide frozen meals.

Hampshire Chronicle: The Shabby Gourmet delivered 60 lunches per day to Basingstoke's A&EThe Shabby Gourmet delivered 60 lunches per day to Basingstoke's A&E

“The canteen was overstretched and with funding from Brighton Hill, we did 3500 meals, which meant 60 lunches per day to deliver to A&E.

“We packaged the meals individually to avoid cross-contamination and we were rushed off our feet, with food delivered everyday at midday.”

Running the massive mission from their domestic kitchen, the couple worked eight days on and two days off.

But their food production service came to an end in the middle of June, as A&E staff were able to take breaks at lunch time.

The Shabby Gourmet left their A&E venture behind and created a range of delicious platters and boxes for the community, ranging from Spanish chorizo and six types of salami to a selection of five different cheeses.

Hampshire Chronicle: The food producers created exotic platters good enough to frameThe food producers created exotic platters good enough to frame

For a total of £50 you are also treated to homemade potato salad and lemon hummus plus garden-grown radishes, pea pods, oregano, lavender, rosemary, fennel, parsley flowers from the family’s vegetable garden.

And we cannot forget a sprinkling of nuts, seeds and fresh fruit to top it all off.

The food producers also offer everything from Cornish cream teas to Luxe Picnic Box complete with sandwiches, pork pies, homemade sausage rolls and chicken drumsticks.

Prices start at £7.50 for Cornish cream tea and go up to £55.

For non meat-eaters there is also the vegan platter serving a rainbow of fruit and vegetables.

The Shabby Gourmet’s sharing platters are available for collection or delivery for a small cost.