Introducing Emma Wilson, chef and manager of The Long Table in Matson, a new branch of the hugely successful The Long Table, Brimscombe.
The Long Table Matson is a community café that aims to make locally sourced and lovingly prepared food available to everyone, regardless of their social or financial background.
In recent years St Hilda’s Hall was not being used to its full potential. But Emma saw the potential for something exciting in Matson and approached Tom Herbert and Will Mansell at Brimscombe’s The Long Table to talk through possibilities.
“The first time I cooked for Tom, I was so nervous that I sliced my finger while I was chopping onions. We had to call my daughter Grace at home to ask her to run across with the first aid kit, and Tom had to take over the cooking! That was one way to discover we’d forgotten to add a first aid kit to our supplies in the café!”
But these initial jitters passed and the idea steadily grew into a thriving enterprise: from a community freezer offering pay-as-you-feel meals, to offering hot takeaway meals, to a pop-up café one evening a week and now a warm welcome Monday to Thursday between 8 am and 2 pm.
Looking around the cosily decorated room, with fairy lights and bunting along the tables, deep and comfy sofas, a ‘swapsies’ area for clothes and books, toys for children to play with and of course Dolly (the community freezer), the space is relaxing, welcoming and homely.
Emma’s smiling face and her locally famous recipes, such as the melt in the mouth ‘Matson Oatie biscuits’ are making a name for the food hall across the area.
Emma is determined that every person who comes through the doors will receive a warm welcome and that there will be suitable food for them to enjoy, whatever their dietary needs and however much, or however little, cash they have in their pocket.
Emma said, “I empathise with people’s struggles. I grew up on a rough estate and I’ve been a single mum. I know what it’s like – parents can have holes in the bottom of their shoes, but that can seem ok, as no one will see that. What’s important is that the kids have food and clothes, even if the parents go without themselves.”
The centre at Matson is home to ‘Dolly, the Freezer of Love’, a pre-stocked freezer with takeaway meals that are available to anyone who needs food. You can also sit down and enjoy soups, sandwiches, chilli, cakes and other lovingly made café favourites. If you can afford to give some money for your meal, that is appreciated, but if you can’t then it is freely given.
Brendon, the local councillor, has started to hold his meetings in the café. Mums meet for a coffee and let the children play safely, bishops call in for breakfast and volunteers laugh and chat together.
Throughout the start-up, Emma says that she has been well-supported by The Long Table, who have taken care of contracts and given backing and support.
“You’ve got to be brave to do this and take a step of faith. Starting in a pandemic has been a challenge, but it’s growing, and I believe that this is because God is with us through it all.”
For more information visit – The Long Table Matson Facebook page.
3 thoughts on “A warm welcome in the heart of Matson”
Before the lockdown there was a lunch club that had been operating at the hall for donkey’s years. It moved into the Redwell Centre while the new hall was built then moved back. Stopped operating during the Pandemic and was great for the elderly before that. Sad that it isn’t remembered.
Sorry just reread it and glad to see lunch club did get a mention
I have to take my hat off to Emma, and her helper Jackie they are both so welcoming.
This is why I now have some meetings in there, because no matter who I’m helping, there is Jo pre-judgment, and everyone is treated equally, and helped in any way they can, Emma is a pillar of the community, and may it long continue