Gemma and Life - A Culinary Genius, Bookworm and a Fellow Dog Lover

Gemma, her partner Tom and their puppy Hendricks

Gemma, her partner Tom and their puppy Hendricks

Anyone that knows me, would confirm that I am the happiest near the sea, breathing in the fresh air, dipping my feet in the salt water, soaking up the rays. That, good food, couple of Bloody Maries, fantastic company and plenty to talk about when it comes to creativity. Put all of that together and you get my new, but already very good friend Gemma. 

They say that the older you get, the harder it is to find true friends that you can trust to be there in highs and lows of your life. And if that’s really true, I have been blessed to meet so many incredible souls within the last few years, since Colchester Streets went live.

One of them is Gemma and Life blogger and my new partner in crime when it comes to Colchester Streets blog – Gemma Tidmarsh. 

For those who haven’t had a chance to read her bio, Gemma is an MA in Creative Writing and blogs passionately about food, books, living and her fur baby, Hendricks the cockapoo (named after Gin, not the musician).

A little while ago, Gemma has invited me to her home in West Mersea and cooked me what can only be called a Mediterranean feast!

Gemma made sure that my belly is full with culinary happiness and continued to make my day even better when showing me around West Mersea. Together with her partner Tom we went boat riding, learning all about oysters, drinking some bubbly and of course, enjoying a nice walk with Hendricks who was happy to pose for the photos!

While chatting with Gemma I made sure to ask many questions so that all of our readers could get to know this wonderful human better!


Why food?

Just because I love food! It’s something I’ve always felt passionate about food, and my intrigue surrounding food, new ingredients and knowing where food comes from has grown over the years. Food and flavours is something that I know and I love cooking, I like eating, I like trying new things. I like feeding people, it makes me happy. Seeing them enjoy food is always nice.


Do you come up with your own recipes?

If it’s savoury I’ll do my own recipes, but if it’s sweet I always follow a recipe, because I don’t really know what I’m doing with sweet things! With savoury, I think there’s much more room for creativity – you can tailor a dish to suit your palette and make it your own. 


What’s your favourite food?

Probably Indian food, curries. I love daal and naan bread, all the spices. Slow cooked beef or lamb curries are to die for and are always a crowd pleaser. If I was on death row, I’m pretty sure I would have an Indian feast as my main meal! 

My favourite dishes to cook are pasta dishes because I love making pasta sauces. Also, I really enjoy seafood. I also love cooking meat, like steak. Basically, anything with flavour, I don’t like bland food.


What’s the most exciting thing about cooking? 

Probably just experimenting with different flavours and watching people eating is always good, to see if they like it or not! And then, obviously, eating it myself! I think being creative with food releases stress and anxiety for me. I find it extremely therapeutic and it makes me happy when others enjoy the food. It sounds very cliched but I cook with love and passion.


What’s the most interesting / unusual food you have ever cooked?

I find this one really hard to answer because I cook so much! I think all my recipes are interesting so I need to pass on that one. Although my favourite dish I have ever eaten was a veal sweetbread dish that I had at Marcus Wareing’s restaurant – Marcus at The Berkley. Sweetbreads are delicious and not enough places do them! I think it’s because a lot of chefs aren’t taught how to handle them or cook them, so they feel uncomfortable doing so. They’re also an acquired taste.


What’s your favourite thing about living in Mersea?

Being so close to the water is nice, it’s quite peaceful, and quiet. Where we live, we are close to pretty much everything, it’s all within walking distance. Because we have Hendricks it’s nice to walk out the door and be by the sea so he can around and burn off some of his energy.

Tell me about Hendricks 

He’s a 4 month old Cockapoo, he loves to run around the beach, loves going on a boat, hates going in a car and he loves a cuddle.

Gemma and Life Blog - Cockapoo Dog.jpg
Gemma and Life Blog - Cockapoo Dog - Hendricks.jpg

Are you a first time dog owner?

We had a family dog growing up, it was a Cocker Spaniel, but Hendricks is my first own dog.


Have you always lived in Colchester area?

Since I was 10. Up until then I used to live in Norwich. 


What’s your favourite part of Colchester?

Castle Park is nice and the Dutch Quarter is pretty.


What’s your least favourite food?

Probably English… I find English food very dull, it’s not very imaginative and doesn’t seem to evolve. 


Is it a coincidence that you are dating a chef?

Yes. Well he doesn’t chef anymore and I am definitely a better cook out of two of us. You can ask him, he will verify!


How did you meet?

We met at uni when we were both studying for our Masters Degrees. He was doing it part time and I did mine full time. We studied at University of Essex. I studied Undergraduate English Literature and Post Graduate I did Creative Writing. 

Gemma and Life Blog - Cockapoo Dog Hendricks - Tom Haward.jpg

Who is your favourite chef?

Marcus Wareing. He usually does twists on British classics and makes them interesting, that’s why I like him. 

He has three restaurants in London and I have eaten at Marcus which is a two Michelin Star restaurant. 


What’s the dish you hate cooking the most?

Roast dinner because it’s very faffy.


Can you tell me what you are cooking today?

Harissa prawns, lamb and feta koftas, vegetable cous cous, pitta bread, salad, hummus, tzatziki and some olives. Nothing too complex, but it will be tasty. There will be a lot of food, you won’t leave hungry

Gemma and Life Blog - Mediterranean Food - Giant Couscous and Hummus.jpg

What’s the plan for Gemma and Life this year? What are your goals?

Towards the end of the year I’d like to try and monetise the blog. Also, I’d like to do collaborations with some local companies. I live in Mersea and there are quite a lot of food places here, so that would be quite good! 


Would you be interested in becoming a chef or working at the restaurant?

I did for a year, Mehalah’s. I prefer cooking at home because you can cook whatever you want and cooking at the restaurant is very high intensity and quite stressful. 


What would a day in your life look like?

Walking Hendricks, going out to eat, having some drinks and coming home, doing a bit of blogging. 


Do you have any other hobbies / hidden talents?

No hidden talents. I like reading and I read a lot.

Now we’ve got Hendricks my life has changed quite a lot, everything revolves around him. I like taking him for walks. I also like seeing friends and going to new places.


What’s your favourite place to eat at in Mersea?

West Mersea Oyster Bar. They do the best fish and chips there and they do this Cajun roasted salmon which is just incredible. The Company Shed is a very close second. However, because I can’t eat oysters, I can’t enjoy it as much. I used to love their oysters so now when I go there, I am missing out, because I am allergic to them. 


Can you tell me about the collaboration with Colchester Streets and what do you think the future holds for the two brands?

I think it’s going to be really good. I think during summer we will end up being super busy and I am hoping a lot of local brands will want to collaborate. With your photography skills and what I can do, I am hoping to get something going that’s really exiting! 

Thank you to my lovely friend for never ending adventures and laughs when we’re together. I hope for many years of great friendship and many creative projects that we will work on together! Cheers!

You can read Gemma’s super interesting blogs on her website and if you would like to follow her on social media, she can be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.