SPEAK to Valda Goodfellow today and she can reel off a stellar list of chefs and TV programmes that queue up for her company’s wares.

Mrs Goodfellow, alongside husband Paul, runs Goodfellow and Goodfellow, which supplies high-end catering products to some of the country’s finest culinary experts and restaurants.

The firm works with chefs such as Jason Atherton, Michael Caines, James Martin, Paul Ainsworth and Monica Galetti, while its products regularly appear on BBC shows Masterchef, Saturday Kitchen and Great British Menu.

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But it wasn’t always the case.

Back in early 2012, the company, which supplies a plethora of dinnerware, glassware and cutlery, was a shadow of the £5.2m turnover operation it is today.

After a deal to sell a previous business in 2008, wherein the duo stayed on to help oversee its progress until the middle of 2011, the Goodfellows launched their new venture in a 25,000sq ft shell of a building in Peterlee, east Durham.

Mrs Goodfellow is quick to acknowledge the period was a worrying one, with the firm, which now employs in excess of 20 staff, required to work up right from the bottom.

It was, she says, a time for the husband and wife team to prove themselves in the industry again.

Previous endeavours in the catering sector were one thing, but the clients they were targeting were not simply going to change supplier agreements on a whim, while the business’ arrival on the scene came with an economy still readjusting from the effects of the recession.

She said: “When we sold the business, instead of taking our money and going to live in Spain or somewhere like that, we wanted to build something again.

“We could have relocated to anywhere in the country, but I’m a local girl, from Bishop Auckland, and the North-East is where I wanted to be.

“We set up in 2012 and moved into a building that was completely empty on the first day.

“I thought ‘what have we done?’, because every single business process had to be built.

“We had to grow from the ground up.

“It was a massive gamble.

“But I thought if we don’t do it now and keep putting it off, the economy may never get better.

“It was probably the hardest thing both of us have done in our careers.

“We had to look like we were ready to go because confidence for any start-up business is the hardest thing.

“We had to find opportunities and make these customers want to be with us and we had to work incredibly hard; we probably went through a year-and-a-half before people really started placing their trust.”

However, the firm, which complements its Peterlee base with a showroom in central London, has been able to use some of its founders’ industry repute, with Mr Goodfellow fashioning a relationship with John Williams, executive chef at The Ritz, from time spent together at catering college.

Mrs Goodfellow also revealed the business speaks to customers on an individual basis to ensure they get the plate or service range they want for their unique needs.

“Those relationships are really hard to forge but once you have them they can last a lifetime”, she said.

“We treat our customers how we would want to be treated.

“It is also great when things are used on Masterchef or Saturday Kitchen and our staff get excited when they see our products on TV.

“It adds to the level of pride in the company.”

However, there is one thing Mrs Goodfellow would like to add to the business.

It predominantly imports products but, highlighting work that saw her company use a local potter to help a London fashion brand with a café, she holds ambitions of getting more North-East companies into the supply chain.

She added: “It is massively important for me.

“I have been in manufacturing for most of my life and seen it almost decimated in the North.

“I would love to see more of it come back if we can do so.”

Meet the Boss…Five minutes with Valda Goodfellow

Favourite North-East building and why? Durham Cathedral. Not only is it a world-class heritage site but it feels like the heart of my region. It has been important to so many people throughout so many centuries and yet its team still works at re-inventing its appeal for each new generation.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? I was employed by Rediffusion, which was a television manufacturer, as a production control trainee on around £6,000 per annum. It was certainly an education working in a factory where the workforce was mostly women in the late 1970s. We prepared the production plans by hand on paper for each batch of sub-assemblies, which made up each set. There were no computers until I installed the first one in around 1980.

What is the worst job you've had? Making curries in batches for ready meals. The least said about this the better.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? If you relied on me for cooking, you would go hungry. I don’t cook. My husband is an ex-chef so he cooks all the time. But if he was cooking, you would probably start with a lovely creamy Burrata and crusty bread, followed by lobster and chips (a fantastic combination), followed by panna cotta, all served with my favourite champagne, which I would have you drink right through the meal.

What would your superpower be? The ability to read minds. How great would that be; never having to second-guess what people are going to do next?

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: I love politics, so given the chance it would mainly be political leaders. I voted for Margaret Thatcher when I was 18, so it would be great to hear about what she would have done differently with the benefit of hindsight; Theresa May on what’s going to happen in the Brexit negotiations and what advice she might ask of Mrs Thatcher; Machiavelli so he could tell them how to do it properly; and my Dad, who told the worst jokes but he thought they were hilarious. That would keep us going when the others run out of conversation. I haven’t mentioned my husband because hopefully he’d be cooking dinner.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? I grew up loving art, so I asked my husband to buy me a painting instead of a Cartier bracelet for my 50th birthday. I don’t know how much it was but I do know it was very expensive.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? I don’t use Twitter but if I did, it would be Donald Trump right now. It’s amazing and ridiculous to think someone can run a major superpower via Twitter.

Favourite book? I have so many. Probably The Prince, by Machiavelli. From that book, I began to understand the psychology of power that not only applies to rulers but also business. It is the book I have quoted most to other people.

When did you last cry? When my son said he was going to leave home to share a flat.

What is your greatest achievement? I would like to think that my greatest business achievement is yet to come. I certainly don’t think I have achieved everything I possibly can. However, probably my greatest life achievement is my son. I know it sounds corny but he is a really good person and although I didn’t make him who he is, it makes me proud that he is my son.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? Trust your instincts. Although there are lots of books written about and advice given on business, everyone’s business is different. You are the one who knows your business best.

Favourite animal and why? Our dog Oscar. He is the most loving animal I have ever come across. He is a Labradoodle and changed our lives from the moment we picked him up as a puppy.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? I don’t think I have any. My husband knows all the famous chefs, so he will have their numbers.

What was the last band you saw live? Mumford & Sons, live in Hyde Park. I had never been to an outside gig before. Not the most comfortable experience, if I’m honest, but definitely the best for atmosphere.

Describe your perfect night in: I love great movies, great food and champagne. I am a home bird, so would rather be at home than anywhere else. We would watch a movie, except it would have to be an old movie because they don’t make many great ones any more. The screenplay isn’t the calibre it used to be.

In another life I would be... A writer. I am essentially happy working alone and I think I have a good imagination. I love words and would love the thought of picking up a book that I had written. It would have to be a book in print, not a digital book.

Who would play you in a film of your life? I would like Carey Mulligan please. I think she is a terrific actress.

What irritates you? Most things, eventually. I get easily bored and then become irritated but probably my pet irritation of the moment is the parents of badly behaved children, especially on flights.

What's your secret talent? I grew up in a family of really talented, artistic people but I did not inherit any artistic talent at all. So I don’t think I have any secret talents unless remembering the words of really old songs can be classed as a talent.