The Producers The Maldon Delicatessen, Maldon
PUBLISHED: 20:47 01 December 2013 | UPDATED: 20:47 01 December 2013
DEAN Hallam and his wife Lorraine took over running The Maldon Delicatessen in October 2012, beginning a new direction for both of them in their personal and business lives. 'We had been sitting outside this very deli enjoying a coffee together in the sunshine when we said, "Wouldn't it be lovely to run somewhere like this?"' Previously Dean had been head of IT for a London hospital. 'I just got sick of commuting and working for the NHS,' he explains.
Neighbours told Dean that their friend was selling their business, which turned out to be the Maldon Deli. ‘When we enquired about it we found it wasn’t even on the market yet, so it was fate really I suppose you could say.’
Dean didn’t want to make any dramatic changes, but feels the deli has evolved over the past 12 months. ‘We certainly didn’t want to alienate our loyal customers, many of whom join us for coffee every day.’
What Dean has done is introduce some new suppliers and also moved things around inside the shop. He has also repainted to make the interior appear brighter, replacing an original brown wall with a deep, rich red.
‘We now have more seating and tables, as we’ve removed one of the display cases, and we always strive to feature as much local produce as we can, although, for example, we can’t source olives locally but we still want to provide them for our customers.’
One aspect of being the new owner of the Maldon Deli Dean wasn’t quite prepared for, was on a personal level.
‘I now have to be much more sociable than I had to be in my previous role. But it’s a pleasant surprise and I absolutely love it. I certainly have to call upon my interpersonal skills!’
Dean feels that 12 months in, the team has got the business model right. ‘We’re always looking for good local suppliers and if we can’t source something here in Essex we find another good supplier with the same goal – to make this place somewhere special for our customers to visit.’
The most popular product on the menu is the gluten-free chocolate cake. ‘A lady bakes them for us from her home in Maldon. It’s an amazing gluten-free chocolate cake recipe and it’s stunning.’ In fact, the deli is becoming well known for its range of gluten-free produce and dishes, which are clearly marked on the menu. ‘People come in specifically for gluten-free items as they know they will enjoy them.’
This month Dean’s highlighted products will include Maldon Deli hampers, which are hand-decorated and created to the customers specification with plenty of local products. Dean offers his customers a range of items including Maldon salt and honey, local apple juice, jams, chutneys and if you want some alcohol in there too, you can have some really interesting ales and spirits from a small distillery, including small bottles of limoncello and a rather divine raspberry liqueur, ideal for dropping into the bottom of a Champagne glass and topping up with Prosecco for a special Christmas Day toast.