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Cooking Up A Wood-Fired Feast With The Wild Oven

Creative summer catering with The Wild Oven

Armed with a fleet of vintage vehicles all equipped with show-stopping wood-fired ovens, The Wild Oven is taking the event catering world by storm. Toast.Life chats to owner Danni Kerby to learn more about the beauty of cooking with fire, as well as her top tips on choosing the right caterer for your next event.



Forget conventional cooking in the kitchen – this summer is all about letting your guests watch the drama unfold, and the more flames the better! Formal is out and relaxed is in – think long table banquets, abundant sharing platters, festival style feasting and more. The Wild Oven is leading the way when it comes to both informal sharing style feasts combined with the drama of cooking with fire, thanks to their unique vintage vehicles that are all ingenuously equipped with wood fired ovens.

“Before The Wild Oven I was doing a raft of things!” explains director and owner Danni Kerby. “From helping out with corn carting on my dad’s farm to reading psychology at Oxford, to doing data analysis and helping a local mental health charity with their business development. At the time it seemed that I was fluttering from one thing to another, but on reflection each thing has prepared me in one way or another for what running The Wild Oven entails” she adds.

“I used to dread the 'what do you want to do with your life?'question! But what brought me here was realising that connection is the most important thing to me. I wanted to do something that helped others celebrate their special moments and the people that they share them with”

It was whilst on holiday that The Wild Oven began to take shape, in Northern Italy to be precise. Danni and James were wandering through the cobbled streets of Bormio and ventured into the town square, where they discovered a gathering of people around an enthusiastic Italian and his wood fired oven.

“When we tasted the unique wood fired pizza it became our light bulb moment” explains Dani. “It was here that we put together our love and passion for bringing the greatest food from British farms to life with the theatre and romance of the wood fired oven!”

The Wild Oven Fires

The Wild Oven Pizza

Back on their farm in Warwickshire, the dream began to take shape; James spent the winter in the workshop building their first ‘roaming’ wood fired oven, whilst Danni set about developing recipes and learning how to start a business.

“We recognised that the landscape for the those really important life celebrations was evolving into exciting new territory - a more relaxed experience, without reneging on quality” Danni explains.

“This was coupled with a move towards the more interactive experience, where the cooking process could be a part of the day. So, we built and created a catering experience that was quite unique from any other business out there”

Union Flag Roof

Today, The Wild Oven has three show stopping vehicles; two super cool classic Land Rover Defenders and a charming retro-style VW van, as well as ‘The Festival Wagon’ which is geared up for much larger events. The classic vehicles all have built-in wood fired ovens which can cook up to a four-course banquet and evening food for up to an impressive 180 seated guests. If you’d prefer a more relaxed ‘festival style’ service, where guests are served directly from the vehicles, then up to 250 hungry mouths can be fed.

“The theatrical aspect really offers an unforgettable experience - the opportunity to feel a part of the process through intrigue, and the ability to alight all the senses” enthuses Danni. 

“We can also do a shared feast style of service which means that each course is brought to the centre of the tables, and the guests serve themselves and each other, which is a really fun and informal way of bringing your guests together”

The Wild Oven

The Wild Oven’s main business is weddings, but they also cater for all sorts of large celebrations and company events ~ and not just during the summer months. either The winter is also a busy time for them, “because what is more evocative than wood fired food during the long winter nights?” asks Danni. Quite.

“There have been too many memorable events to mention!” she beams. “One that was particularly touching was an anniversary party - it’s just so beautiful to be there to celebrate the longevity of love and the family and group of friends that had been created because of it. But it is a real privilege being a part of every occasion - from the initial enquiry all the way through to the big day. It’s also great watching everyone’s faces light up as people spot the vehicle in action, and then when the food is served to the centre of the tables!”

Not only are The Wild Oven’s eye-catching vehicles and dramatic wood fired ovens beautifully evocative, but they can also rustle up some seriously delicious food too; the canapé menu features tasty titbits such as wood fired asparagus wrapped in Parma ham, mini wood fired spiced cauliflower steaks and crispy belly pork with a tangy apple sauce, and there’s a mouth-watering selection of antipasti to choose from too, such as wood fired Severn Spots chorizo in apple cider and grilled and chilled aubergines and peppers. Things only get better when it comes the main course options – think citrus and garlic Oxfordshire chicken with fresh thyme, and pulled pork pibil with pickled pink onions and coriander.

“All of our dishes are really popular but if I had to choose one or two I would probably have to say the chipolatas glazed in hoi sin and honey and rolled in sesame seeds, and the Todenham Farm beef meatballs with a sriracha and lime crème. Everything we serve is so colourful and rich with flavours and texture” Danni explains proudly. 

“And our ethos is to source as much as we can locally, from local farms and suppliers.  Being from a farming family, we think it is really important to support local farms and businesses”

The Wild Oven Pork Belly Canepes

Thw Wild Oven Canapes  

A Wild Oven pudding staple is a classic Eton mess served with smashed berries and lemon curd, and for later on in the evening there’s also the opportunity for some completely delicious wood fired pizzas too, as well as what Danni describes as a ‘Late Night Naughty’ - round oak boards studded with toasted marshmallows and chocolate Brownie...

“I’m very lucky that I have a team of people around me who share my passion for great food – sometimes I can’t move for great ideas!” she enthuses.

Marshmallows  

So that covers the wood fired food – but what to drink? Well the good news is that Danni and her team can also provide suitable libation thanks to their brand new, beautifully styled vintage bar service, known as The Wild Bar, which comes filled with craft cocktails and mocktails, fine wines, champagnes and, of course, local beers and spirits. What more could you need? And with the Wild Oven nailing the more relaxed way of serving delicious, top quality food, combined with a splash of dramatic and atmospheric food theatre, I wonder what Danni thinks is next when it comes to what’s hot in the world of event catering.

“This year we are seeing three buzz words - health, sustainability, and animal welfare. It seems like everyone is moving towards more of an awareness of their own gut health, their environment, and the support of quality local suppliers, where they know the animals have been well cared for” she explains. 

“And for us? Well it’s another busy year so it’s all hands on deck! We’ve only just launched the bar and it’s already proving to be a huge hit! As a small company there are always new ventures to be explored which is challenging, but in the best way possible!”

The Wild Oven Shared Feast


Speaking of challenges – a big one for any savvy host is of course choosing the right caterer, and if you’re in the midst of that decision-making process then hop over to TheEDIT for Danni’s list of top things to consider. 

If you’d like to book The Wild Oven for your next event, then you can find their contact details and more info on their page  in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book.

 
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