Venturi’s Table hosts corporate cookery events, offering businesses an alternative to run-of-the-mill team-building days. It’s already attracted blue chip clients such as Microsoft and BP and is rapidly approaching boiling point: turnover increased 74 per cent after its first year. This year, it’s up 55 per cent and the Venturis are projecting turnover of just under £1m next financial year.
That’s remarkable growth for a venture that started “for fun”. Venturi explains: ”When I started, I didn’t think I was going to do serious business. I wanted to do something from home, just to play a little bit. I made a very small investment and I knew that if it didn’t work, I wasn’t going to lose much and I could move onto something else.”
When Venturi realised how successful the classes were becoming, she decided to move the business to commercial premises. “I started this little shop with a cookery school teaching ‘ladies who lunch’. It was very successful – I wrote a book and did a very small bit of television – but I never took any of it too seriously.”
It was when her daughter Letizia showed an interest in the business that Venturi realised things were about to gear up a notch. “I asked her ‘are you mad ’ because it was more than a hobby, but it wasn’t a very big responsibility at that stage,” says Venturi. “But after ten years of doing cookery classes for ‘ladies who lunch’ I was ready for something different and a little more challenging.”
And so, Venturi’s Table started to take shape. “It was a big commitment and investment for us, but we started. Everyone said ‘oh my god, what are you doing?’, but, actually, it worked right away.”
Venturi reckons the company’s instant success is owed to the fact they did their homework: “We looked hard for the right premises and we decided to fit the kitchen to a very high standard – we want to have a high profile. We have people here who earn a lot of money, so we have top-of-the-range china, cutlery, uniforms, everything.”
Over the festive season last year, 600 people attended corporate cookery events at Venturi’s Table, and Venturi is determined to see her venture keep growing: “There’s still a lot to do, and I’m not just talking about turnover. I see myself as an entrepreneur and I want to see this place running to its full potential.”