I am Santa Checkley born in England to an English father and an Italian mother. Much of my childhood was spent at the family Villa on the Italian Riviera in Northern Italy, which was a beautiful old family residence, with former links to the Piaggio Family (Vespa scooters).
That is where my love of food and cooking started. I learned so much from my Nonna, who, early every morning would take me to the market to buy fresh produce. We would then prepare lunch for all the family, about 12 of us in all, and at times more, which we ate under the old yew tree in the garden.
After a siesta we would start all over again in preparation for the 4 or 5 course evening meal! Her whole life revolved around food, which I seem to have inherited. She was a wonderful Nonna and I loved all the times we shared together, talking and preparing food, which was always cooked with love.
For over 30 years I have run a very successful catering business including lunches for the boardroom, buffets for staff and training courses, weddings, private parties (including a few celebs!), novelty cakes for all ages and the provision of daily desserts for a 5 star country house hotel.
My husband and I have owned an award winning country house hotel and restaurant, where I was chef and manager. I have worked as a home economist, originator of recipes featured on grocery packaging and I have created dishes for food magazine photographic sessions. I also ran a restaurant for a well-known comedian for 2 years.
So as you can see – my work and experience is very varied.
I have been married to Roger for over 50 years, have 3 talented sons and a hectic social life giving me a perspective on appreciating the demands on both family meals and entertaining.
Santa’s food workshop has come about because I want to share my love of both cooking and entertaining with others to show it can co-exist.