I’ve always loved cooking (and eating). I probably got a lot of it from my mum, who to this day is my favourite chef. I have a tendency to cook large batches of food with the thought if anyone knocks round I can always feed them up with something. I also love leftovers and creating something from nothing the next day. I hate waste. I love slow food.
I received my degree in Food Science and Nutrition and jumped into my “career” starting with a job at Safeways head office, helping to develop and improve their range of ready meals and deli snacks, from there I moved to developing chilled desserts for Marks and Spencers. I was the person that worked with a chef on a kitchen recipe then project managed that recipe to become mass-producible. I would work alongside the buyers and production and technical and engineering departments testing recipes in the test kitchen, then the pilot plant, then full production. I’d put together the specifications, audit suppliers, do big presentations to the buyers, the photography for the artwork, and advise the nutritional and microbiological testing. When I started my job, to see my products on the supermarket shelves at the end of an exhausting launch was a major buzz. I loved it.
But something changed; I was no longer working for M&S but for a smaller company that shall remain nameless. As time went on the job no longer became about researching the marketplace adequately, spending time on developing a strong brief, sourcing the best ingredients, trialling products in production satisfactorily, doing adequate shelf life testing etc etc. It became less of developing a product I could be proud about and more about the bottom line.
Sure things have changed in business in general; everyone is being pushed to improve efficiencies and profit margins. When I started my career in food development and was developing 10 new products over the space of a 6 month critical path, at the end I was juggling 200 products with a 3 week turnaround from concept to launch. And the products that were being launched were rubbish.
I’ve always been pro-independents. But from having an insider’s view of the supermarkets I can honestly say, at the bottom end of the market place, the stuff you are buying is terrible. At best it’s using the cheapest ingredients possible; probably being shipped from the other side of the world where they can employ staff at reduced costs and cause irreparable damage to the natural environment as the countries are unregulated and have lower working standards. At worst the products haven’t even been tested properly. Generally they will contain numerous additives, some that aren’t even legally required to be put on the ingredient declarations as they are classed as “processing aids.” These additives are potentially seriously harmful. But they do have a function; they increase shelf life, they boost stability, increase yields etc etc. Ie they increase profitability. So I left my job in industry with the view to set up a foodie business in my locality.
I am not a faffy pastry chef, I enjoy baking stuff that eats well. I have also had an allotment for quite a number of years now which is my haven. It’s being close to nature, enjoying the seasons, getting fresh air and exercise, and I also grow lots of fruit and veg that can be used as ingredients for my baking. I like making jam too…
We are passionate about “proper” cake. Good food is good for the soul and a well-deserved treat (not a chemical cake from the supermarkets) is a beautiful thing! We have a no cupcake policy – all that over frosting and artificial colours and decorations are not our style. Substance over style we say… a bit like myself! We don’t over sweeten our batters, we don’t over ice our cakes, we use proper butter and free range eggs in all our bakes and flavours come from REAL ingredients – our allotment fruits, in-house roasted nuts and Belgian couverture chocolate.
You can count on one hand the ingredients in most of our products (and take a look at the ingredient lists on a supermarket cake – you can’t say the same there). And for the people that are looking for a healthy alternative we also have developed a range of innovative treats in the form of our HappyHealthyYum range, these are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, refined sugar free using fruit rather than processed sugar to sweeten they will fill you up and satisfy you with slow releasing energy and are chock full of superfoods, vitamins and minerals. So you can have your cake and eat it with us!
Anyway, to all our regulars… We love you! And to all those that haven’t yet visited us…. Come on down and get your cake on with us! After working with so many small independents I know how hard all these guys work. It is nonstop. And they generally do it for the love of food not the money. And I defy you to be able to say the same about the supermarkets.
So go on… shop local! And support your independents!