It’s been a busy few weeks what with one thing and another. Work is crazy, as ever but there have been a couple of extra curricular activities also occupying me.

Our stand with campfire to toast

Our stand with campfire to toast

Over the bank holiday I helped a friend with her stand in the British producers tent of CarFest South. We met when an old boss of mine refused to see her on the basis that she had too corporate a background. It’s interesting to me that corporate always implies staid to people when in fact it is often a great grounding from which aspiring entrepreneurs can bounce off into the stratosphere. I know I have a corporate bent which gives structure, global vision and commerciality. It allows me a framework from which I can apply creative thinking to much better effect. My friend is the same. A week after that rejected meeting, she went it alone (with hubby’s support) and started her own marshmallow business. A year on, Eat Toast Dunk Me is a thriving brand which sells online, in shops including Selfridges and was incredibly popular at the show. We toasted, tasted and talked through all her fabulous flavours and I was so pleased to be able to help out someone who had taken such initiative and made it work.

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Then last week I was at the Speciality Fine Food Fair at Olympia with work and was reminded once again just how much the food world is thriving. The small producers section was bigger than ever with over 100 new small producer stands hosted by slightly mad, overworked exhausted people selling their self produced wares. I think it is a necessity in the food world to have a bit of madness within – otherwise I honestly don’t think you would get off the ground and true to form I was normally the person they made a beeline for! But as far as the producers were concerned, there was an amazing mix with futuristic cocktail jellies, three star salted caramel pots, more marshmallows, teas, biltong, baked beans, dips, oils, nut butters, drinks, jams from discarded food and much more.

3 star jars of salted caramel from Ireland

Sam and her 3 star jars of salted caramel from Ireland

I was also impressed with how many women were leading the way here. We spoke to quite a few on the stand who were not only at the supplier end but also the retailer side too. Some had taken over family businesses in far flung places like the Orkney Islands or Guernsey and others just started up on their kitchen table, with many more in between. It is quite humbling to see such ambition and drive as well as hard work. Obviously I am a big supporter, so if anyone needs a helping hand next year at CarFest – you know where I am.

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