Meet the family-owned deli and catering company that is balancing gut health with indulgence to provide Chichester with delicious home-cooked meals, snacks, and celebration cakes. Whether there are 6 or 600 of you, Blue Fig Deli will supply your event with food to keep your taste buds, tummies and minds happy.
The Blue Fig Deli
Gut health is popping up in articles all over our screens and pages – but what does it actually mean, and how can we boost our own gut health?
Janie Horlock, founder of The Blue Fig Deli, says that a healthy gut is one filled with a variety of microbes. But hang on – shouldn’t we be wary of microbes? Not at all, the vast majority of microorganisms are in fact beneficial to our bodies, and even our minds. These healthy bacteria are naturally found in and on our bodies – in fact, the human body contains more bacterial cells than it does human body cells. While we know that some bacteria and viruses cause illness and disease, these are not found in our bodies day-to-day. The truth of it is that we would not function without microbes.
Many of these microbes are found in our guts, with thousands of different species living in our digestive system. These microbes are collectively called the gut microbiome and, when totalled, these microbes weigh about 2 kilograms, the same weight as our brain. Scientists and nutritionists alike consider the gut microbiome as an organ, vital to our survival.
The microorganisms in your gut help digest your food, making sure your body absorbs as much goodness as it can. What’s more, the bacteria in our gut boost our immune system by manufacturing vitamins such as vitamin K. This helps us fight dangerous infections every day without even realising we were infected. Janie says that boosting gut health is especially important when recovering from surgery or when fighting long term illness, as antibiotics kill both dangerous and helpful bacteria in one fell swoop, leaving the body with a depleted microbiome.
Janie also says that microbes in the gut directly communicate with the brain, meaning mental wellbeing is, in part, boosted by a healthy gut. And Janie couldn’t be more right; scientists at the University of California have found that microbes in the gut help serotonin production in the brain, the famously “happy” hormone.
But how can we help our gut and make sure it has a healthy number of microbes? It’s simple – we eat more microbes! But that doesn’t mean eating Petri dishes full of bacteria. Janie’s solution is far tastier…
This is where The Blue Fig comes in. Their online deli sells delicious flavours of sauerkraut, kefir milk, sourdough bread and kombucha. All of these products have fermented slowly and naturally, which cultivates a huge number of microbes (called probiotics), as well as cultivating a beautiful tangy taste!
The Blue Fig’s kefir goats milk, for example, contains a high amount of Vitamin A as well as a wealth of probiotics which has helped customers recover from all sorts of ailments including psoriasis, IBS, heart palpitations and constipation.
The naturally fermented cabbage in sauerkraut, or the naturally fermented milk in kefir and yoghurts, introduces millions of microbes to our guts, maintaining our physical and mental health. Janie told Chichester Life that her interest in health foods started when she was at culinary school training in traditional French cuisine which, as we all know, is filled with cream and butter! Here, Janie explained, her coaching chef was always thinking of ways to reduce the fat content of his dishes which, in the late 80s, was almost unheard of for a French chef! Janie has carried this curiosity for health with her to The Blue Fig, as the catering and the deli both focus on goodness, an ode to her culinary professor.
Of course, catering for a wedding or a birthday has to have some elements of indulgence too, and Janie has perfected the art of balancing pampering the palate with nurturing the gut. Catering from The Blue Fig will be tailored to your tastes, preferences and dietary requirements as Janie feeds your guests healthy, home-cooked food.
Take The Blue Fig’s gorgeous wedding cakes. Janie believes that “icing is for eating and should be delicious, not a sugar carpet over your cake”. Therefore, The Blue Fig offers three types of wedding cake: fully iced with buttercream, semi-naked with a skimmed layer of buttercream or naked cakes with no icing at all, letting the cake do the talking. Each cake is stunningly decorated at your venue with seasonal flowers or colourful macarons, fresh fruit and meringue.
The Blue Fig’s celebration cakes show how Janie offers you a choice in your catering needs and focuses on your personal taste. As a trained chef, Janie knows not to overpower her dishes with fermented food and instead beautifully blends the tang of sauerkraut or sourdough with popular flavours to keep your guests happy.
Janie also uses local, fresh and seasonal ingredients in her soups, salads and snacks at every opportunity she can. Her close partnership and friendship with Our Back Garden, based in Westbourne, gives The Blue Fig access to fresh fruit and veg alongside locally- sourced meat and fish from other local businesses.
The Blue Fig, alongside Our Back Garden, host a monthly supper club in the warm summer months. While lockdowns have halted these events, Janie and everyone at Our Back Garden are keen for them to proceed safely in the summer. You can book tickets for yourself and a friend or partner to enjoy a social alfresco experience, with a three- course meal and expert wine pairing chosen by Janie.
The Blue Fig is far more than a business, having catered at community events such as the Community Christmas at Oakwood School for two consecutive years. These warming events welcome people who are spending Christmas Day alone to join in dining and carol singing at Oakwood School. Unsurprisingly, lockdowns have also stalled these joyous Christmas days, but have not stalled Janie’s enthusiasm to run more community- based events when it is safe to do so.
The Blue Fig will cater for 6 to 600 guests at your wedding, dinner party, cosy date night, birthday and even your yoga class. Glowing testimonials can be found on The Blue Fig website, singing praises for their canapés and meals. If you have nothing in the diary yet, that’s not a problem as you can order The Blue Fig’s homemade products and organic wine from their online deli, for everyday snacks and meals.