Mathilde van der Does de Willebois, who runs East Bergholt based TillyCooks, is a Dutch painter who lived for 25 years in Tuscany, on a hill surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. She learned to cook from her French mother, and in Italy she worked as a cookery instructor at Organic Tuscany,. She continued to be inspired by her Tuscan friends and neighbours, and learned their secret family recipes.
Tilly moved to East Bergholt in 2013, partly for the sake of her children's education, and partly for the landscape that inspired her as an artist. As well as her painting, she cooks for private parties, caters for tenants of the National Trust’s Thorington Hall and cooks lunches for the Harkstead Estate Shoot, prepares ready meals and teaches the secrets of classic Tuscan and Italian cookery.
"I am often asked what I miss most about Italy. The answer is, the weather and the food. The weather is partly responsible for the lovely taste of the mostly vegetable based classic Tuscan dishes. You just can’t beat the taste of the hot sun. But in Britain you can get close by shopping in the right places and, very importantly, spending time in the preparation of these relatively simple dishes. Time is key, and making time to prepare food means you have to love doing it. So loving care is what we need most if we want to cook Italian food.
In my classes and in my ready meals I hope to be able to share with you the care taken and the patience applied by my friends, neighbours, and fellow cooks in Tuscany when they want to prepare delicious food with simple ingredients.
I hope you will ‘love’ the food we cook in these classes, and my ready meals."
Please note: Tilly is a registered sole trader with liability insurance. She is currently in the process of achieving local authority registration as a catering business.