Willie’s Café & The Sticky Pudding Catering Company

Written by Bryan Lavery



In this issue we are featuring recipes from two well-known London caterers. These are not complicated recipes, and the message is simple as well: good cooking is about fresh, seasonal, high-quality ingredients, used thoughtfully. We asked Ian Kennard from Willie’s Café and Chef David Grassie from the Sticky Pudding Catering Company for recipes from their catering repertoires that really explode with fresh flavours.

Ian Kennard and Willie’s Café

Willie’s Café has been a revered London lunch hot spot for many years. Proprietor Ian Kennard and Cindy Koivu (Willie’s main server for the past 17 years) possess a solid work ethic and interact in the dining room as a well-choreographed team. This keeps the café humming, patrons happy and business brisk.

Chef Gail Raines is a culinary dynamo who combines efficient professionalism with friendly repartee in the small open kitchen. Menu items include over a dozen different sandwiches and wraps, along with a variety of soups, salads and other house specialties. Everything is made in-house and from scratch. Almost half of Willie’s business comes from catering, to both corporate clients and private parties.

One of Willie’s specialties is the office lunch. They have built a reputation for their fresh and healthy sandwiches, salads and hot entrées delivered to your office at an affordable price.


Willie’s Café
731 Wellington Street, London


Recipe courtesy of Ian Kennard from Willie’s Café

Chicken with Lemon White Wine Cream Sauce,Baby Spinach and Bowtie Pasta
Serves 6

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed

1 500g box farfalle (bowtie) pasta

3 cups (750 mL) baby spinach

6 tbsp (120 mL) butter

6 tbsp (120 mL) flour

3 cups (750 mL) 35% cream

1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock

zest and juice of 3 lemons

½ cup (125 mL) white wine

salt and pepper

For Sauce:

1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook until light beige and fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly.

2. Add cream, whisking constantly. Return to heat.

3. Add vegetable stock, lemon zest, lemon juice, and white wine. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens.

4. Add chicken, reduce heat, and simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Cook pasta according to instructions.

6. Divide pasta among 6 large bowls; sprinkle each with ½ cup baby spinach. Spoon chicken and sauce over spinach and pasta. Garnish with fresh black pepper and serve. Bon appetit!


David Grassie and The Sticky Pudding Catering Company

Hailing from the north of England, David Grassie is an award-winning chef and caterer. Grassie began his career in Canada in 1978 working for the Holiday Inn, and settling in London in 1984. In 1990, Grassie began offering his services as an event consultant to a select clientele and David Grassie Chef Services was born. In 1996, Grassie decided to combine his passion for good food with his love for meeting and working with people to create his current company.

Sticky Pudding Catering Company

We asked Chef Grassie for a seasonal recipe and he provided the following soup recipe, perfect for late spring, when the green goodness of fresh shelled peas and baby leeks are at their prime, when mint and tarragon are fresh, and when the weather is beginning to suggest the early days of summer. Parsnips are always a noble ingredient to add sweetness and texture to almost any soup. This combination is a classic warm-weather starter.


Recipe courtesy of David Grassie from The Sticky Pudding Catering Company

Chilled Green Pea, Parsnip and Mint Soup

I’m originally from the north of England, where soup is one of our staples. What better than peas and mint? I`ve added parsnip, for an extra dimension. I think they make a wonderful combination.

6 cups (1.5 L) Chicken stock

6 cups (1.5 L) green peas

2 cups (475 mL) diced parsnips

½ cup (120 mL) chopped leek

1/3 cup (80 mL) chopped tarragon

1/3 cup (80 mL) chopped mint

¼ cup (60 mL) crème fraîche

crème fraîche

1 cup (240 mL) sour cream

1 cup (240 mL) 35% cream

1. Whip the cream to stiff peaks then fold into the sour cream. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on kitchen counter overnight. Refrigerate in the morning.

2. In a large pot bring the chicken stock, peas, and parsnips to the boil. Turn down heat, and simmer until parsnip is soft to the touch. Strain and save the stock.

3. Place the cooked peas, parsnip, leek, mint, tarragon, and half the stock in a blender and purée until smooth.

4. Slowly add the remaining stock. Season with salt and white pepper. Pass through a medium-fine strainer. Refrigerate.

5. Before serving, check the seasoning, serve with a teaspoon of the crème fraîche, and finish with fresh mint.

About the author

Bryan Lavery

Eatdrink Food Editor and Writer at Large Bryan Lavery brings years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, as a chef, restaurant owner and consultant. Always on the lookout for the stories that Eatdrink should be telling, he helps shape the magazine both under his byline and behind the scenes.