Archives for posts with tag: pinterest

It is always difficult to come back from an experience like bootcamp and figure out how to put that regime into your lifestyle. For me it was not about the food, rather the exercise regime and that is challenging when you juggle a full time job and life in London.

Given the amount that I can fit into my week, I have to be even more aware of healthy eating and this is something that we have been pondering at work too. It is always great to be surrounded by like minded people at work who are interested in the same things as you and we certainly are that…a group of interested food aficionados who can quite easily pass the time of day away debating which spice goes into a carrot salad or which grain is going to capture the trend forecasters next. Puffed buckwheat has taken up quite some time earlier on in the year and now we are fine tuning a roast carrot salad that I was keen to get going as it is a great season with the Chantenays here at the moment and it will be fabulous colour for our counter.


This weekend I was inspired, as I normally am, by ideas coming from Mrs C-A. She is such a great cook working with flavour but generally keeping it healthy and her pinterest board is a good one to follow. I was greeted with this pin this morning which inspired me to get into the kitchen and give it a go. The website was full of great ideas and this recipe was just one that I wanted to try.

Roasted root veg are perfect at this time of year but it can get a little dull just serving as is so how can you bring an added zing? This is always a challenge with healthy food: how to add flavour without bringing in lots of fat or salt. Well this recipe had a green sauce suggestion that they call a pesto but whatever the name, it certainly took the dish to new levels and gave a tangy dressing that will be very useful in the fridge.


As suggested, I kept the veg chunky picking celeriac, courgette, squash, red onion, sweet potato and beetroot. I kept the beets in one corner of the tin to avoid bleeding onto the other veg which worked a treat and doused it all in chilli salt rather than just salt. I didn’t bother with the cavolo nero this time simply because I had plenty already but will try that trick another day.IMG_5728

The ‘pesto’ was definitely more sauce vierge and for a fresh kick I mixed the parsley with added basil and used the roasting oil in the mix too once it had cooled. I also substituted wholewheat bulgar for the polenta which is personal preference although the nuttiness added another earthy flavour which I enjoyed.


So thank you Mrs C-A…this was a meal fit for kings and one which is now packed up in my lunchbox with a couple of pieces of feta for a midday feast tomorrow. See you there.

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I found out this weekend that my picnic concept won in the Wallpaper Design Awards 2016. Created this Summer I was trying to bring something new and innovative to the offer at Melrose and Morgan and it seems I achieved that.

It is always difficult to come up with something truly original especially in the food retail world as it is so full and fast moving. However I am a strong believer in innovation driving success in business and that meant that I had to come up with something new that would meet the demand of my customers, the approval of the team and also stand out from the crowd.

I had been collating interesting packaging ideas on my Pinterest board for some time and it was clear that there were lots of great new designs using cardboard engineering to replace more costly and cumbersome solutions. I find Pinterest a great way of saving creative ideas especially as I am such a visual person and you can see elements of various projects I have worked on over the years grounded in my different boards.

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Added to that was the fact that people’s tastes in food have been changing a lot. The traditional wicker basket hamper felt too staid and restrictive to me. Some people may want to plan a full blanketed, basket based experience but I think we are increasingly spontaneous in our food requests these days especially where outdoor eating is concerned. We Brits like to take advantage of the good weather and as it is pretty unpredictable I felt we needed an offer which was flexible. It could be a few pieces of great cheese, with crackers, tomatoes, chutney and a bottle of wine as much as an organised spread for 12 to lay out in the park.

In addition I wanted to give my shops a more flexible solution to selling picnics because I think it is challenging for shop floor staff to sell a high priced item in a fast moving casual retail experience. By bringing in a set of trays for two people to mix and match I was able to get more choice on display, better perceived value and arm the team with something that they could get behind every day for a variety of customer needs.

A search online brought the inner boxes that I needed to light which was most definitely the easy part. And populating the ingredients of each box: Meat; Cheese; Fish; Veggie; Dessert was as simple as cherry picking from our great supply base and engineering to fit the boxes (and the margin!) – a bit of work but all within the realms of a days work.

The hard bit was the cardboard outer that really pulled the whole thing together. The design brief was fairly simple once we hit upon the idea of selling where in London to have a picnic and the maps inside were well created by the team. But the specification of the cardboard itself proved to be the challenge. The general shape was dictated by the inner boxes, but the handle and its ability to hold all the contents without ripping was more about engineering and I have to say this is not my forte.

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Many a trial of swinging the contents back and forth in the office resulted in packets of smoked salmon and pots of desserts tumbling all over the floor. It was all too easy to just walk away but that’s just not in my nature. We asked advice of the printer, of qualified specialists and in the end my colleague’s hubby, who proved the most helpful and a week before launch, a day before the team were going to tell me to give it all up, and on our fifth attempt we quietly, tentatively built our picnic, lifted it carefully off the desk, gave it a small swing, then a larger one and finally a swing that was more appropriate to engaging a child at play and hallelujah. The cardboard held.

Over the Summer we had some great press pick up from Harpers Bazaar and Wallpaper to Grazia and Stylenest for our new picnic and it was satisfying to see our customers respond so well to the offer even though the weather didn’t exactly play its part. By the end of September we had seen good sales growth and it was a campaign success for us.

The icing on the cake came this weekend with the news that Wallpaper had recognised the design as award winning. As someone who loves design and creativity I am very proud to have the work we all contributed to getting this made given such a prominent accolade. Now all I have to do is think of something to move it on for next year!WinnerBadge_2016

I love Pinterest.

It is such a great way to log ideas, build a briefing note and remember great things you have seen online. And what I like best is that such a visual representation can at one click take you to the website that you originally saw it, keeping track of everything in one funky mood board.


My first foray was when I was trying to find some wallpaper for a cafe I was working on at Silverstone and whilst I didn’t think the examples I picked were very useful to many other people, I still see these images re-pinned all the time. Funny really how quirky orange papers with whisks on or red icons of pots & pans could be desired for anything other than a race track cafe, but there you go! Still, the board I created was sent to my team at Silverstone and my vision was then dutifully executed.

An easy table centrepiece

An easy table centrepiece

After that, I created boards to demonstrate other things that I was progressing. One for the Queen’s jubilee so I could keep track of what I had seen for a report I was compiling, and another for an event I was arranging, trying to DIY on a shoestring so contemplating good, cheap, easy to make table centrepieces. The event was rained off in the end, but the board of ideas remains if and when I ever need to resurrect it.


After that, came the design of a new ice cream offer for a stately home and an ongoing project over a couple of years designing my own new house. There is so much online to disseminate when doing that from scratch and just keeping track of what you have seen where would be a nightmare were it not for this technology. Instead, I crafted mood boards for each thing, whether lighting, or fireplaces, gardens or kitchens. And by picking bits from different pictures and piecing it all together I could create something that was never done before. An idea from outside became an internal wall of herbs, a fireplace concept became a feature wall….and so on.

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Then came the biggest work project of all, designing a brand new restaurant/cafe and retail concept for Laverstoke Park Farm. And as ever with me, I didn’t want it to be like anything else that existed, rather a place that others would visit to see the next big thing in the food arena. My head was full of ideas. My pinterest board was loaded with snippets. From clever ways to display wines, to unique storage for bread, counter designs to flooring, menus to meat this board was packed full of great ideas which I was formulating into a new concept of my own. Sadly, what seems so clear in my mind was almost lunacy to others, who didn’t have the vision to see that I was thinking laterally not literally. It made me realise that my way of thinking was not the same as others and that people really struggle to get past what is in front of them and to open up their imaginations. But nevertheless, my vision would have been fab!

In the end the project didn’t go ahead, but my ideas remain for another day.

Nowadays, my focus has moved onto innovative packaging and some of that was used to create the picnic concept I mentioned last week. Again, my mind moved towards adapting what I saw into something new. And despite our trials and tribulations, these picnics are thankfully getting good support from customers since their launch. We also use shared boards to log recipes or product ideas and that allows the team to all post different perspectives into one place that can be referred to at any one time.


In August, I am heading off to Denmark and believe it or not, Pinterest is great for planning holiday trips too. I can see all the great food places to go, link to some good sites with ideas on what to do and piece together the places that I want to see. I always like an element of research when travelling as I worry that I am going to miss something and what has been great is that once the Denmark board was created, I was getting new ideas via pins sent back to me from other people who have pinned the same things as me. This push back is a clever tool in the same vein as the Amazon: people who bought that also bought…. but without the hard sell.

And the latest news is that Pinterest, along with other sites such as Google, Twitter and Instagram, are developing the ‘buy button’ so that now it will be easier than ever to shop online. This Harvard Business School article is an interesting read on the subject and I will watch this space on that one.

Meanwhile, my holiday plans progress and any new project ideas will be brought to life on my profile. If you are interested in keeping an eye, then I am here.