Launching catering business was 'best decision ever'

Caren Schofield set up Bonito Platito in lockdown.

Caren Schofield set up Bonito Platito in lockdown. - Credit: SCHOFIELD

Launching a new business brings both excitement and trepidation, but for Hemingford Grey mum Caren Schofield it was "the best decision" she has ever made.

Caren launched grazing catering business Bonito Platito last year after quitting her full-time job in the NHS and says she has no regrets.

“Unfortunately, it got to a point where I wasn't enjoying my job. I was desperate for Friday to come, and I hated that feeling. Combine that with the impact the first lockdown had on me, something just clicked, and I wanted to do something that made me happy and had a passion for."

Like many businesses, Bonito Platito was born in lockdown; however, as Caren explained, the idea and vision was already years in the planning:

“I watched a programme about a grazing company in Australia about a year before launching and fell in love with the style, the types of food, and I began researching and creating my own tables; however, as a working mum, this soon got pushed back.

"I decided to give it a go for my daughter’s birthday, though, and I loved it! I enjoyed the process, being creative with the food and seeing everyone’s faces when they were presented with a different kind of buffet.

“After that, I was on a mission and after more research, like how to set-up a business and what qualifications were needed, I finally launched Bonito Platito.”

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Despite being immersed and surrounded by caterers and chefs while growing up at the family’s hotel business in Northumberland, with her mother a head chef as well, Caren chose a different career path and became a nursery nurse when she moved down to Cambridgeshire to be with husband David in 2009.

During the next decade, the couple had two children, while Caren swapped childcare for administrative roles in the NHS; however, she hit a low point career-wise, which was when she dusted down her ideas book:

She originally started the business alongside her other job. , but still felt a creeping panic. In fact, her first order was placed the following morning and from then on, business has snowballed.

“I received a mass order from a fire station in Luton, and I drove all the way there asking if this was really happening, " explained Caren.

"Within two months, I was struggling to keep up with my full-time job, and David and I agreed that there was no point in launching a business if I was turning customers away.

“Handing in my notice was a tense moment: ‘Am I making the right decision? Will I regret it?’ But it was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I haven’t looked back since.

"The local community has been amazing, and I have been blown away by everyone’s support. Customers are returning with more orders, which is gratifying, and the kindness people have shown on social media, in particular, has been heart-warming. It’s also been uplifting to have made friends with people that I have bought supplies from. I think it’s vital that local independent businesses support each-another.”

Caren also has plans to open a coffee shop at The Grey House in Hemingford Grey, hopefully in mid-May and hopes to expand into the wedding market and corporate events once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

In the space of 12 months, launching the business from an ideas book to opening a coffee shop, despite the COVID pandemic, Caren acknowledged that she still has to pinch herself.

If it wasn’t for the support of David, who has been a model of strength and support, pushing her to “go for it”, or having the dedication of family members, who’ve helped deliver boxes around the region, she may not be in the position she is in today.

Caren added: “My success is driven by wanting to show my children that if you have an idea or want to achieve something, you absolutely can if you work hard at it”.

To find out more or place an order with Caren at Bonito Platito, visit: