“And that was work?” was the response from my friend when I told him about my afternoon at the Taste of the West Awards Ceremony. Well, no, it wasn’t ‘work’ but it is a perk of being part of the Food & Drink sector team at Michelmores.
As friends of Taste of the West, we were keen to support their event, and what better way than with a glass in one hand and a canapé in the other? Saying that, my enthusiasm for these did make shaking hands rather difficult, not to mention actually speaking to people with a mouth full of red pepper and almond crostini or Moroccan spiced crispbread (not simultaneously). As I think is common at most networking events, there’s always the dilemma of do you try and eat a canapé whole and get rid of it and risk that being the moment someone asks “so what do you do?” I always time this badly and I apologise now to anyone who was showered in crostini crumbs in my poor effort to multi-task.
The atmosphere was buzzing as the Bristol Pavilion at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club filled with 300 members of the South West food and drink industry, all keen to find out the Taste of the West Award overall category winners – and sample the fabulous three course lunch menu showcasing some of the award-winning products. We were definitely not disappointed!
As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, when deciding who to invite to join us on the Michelmores table, I was conscious of the potential for these events to produce nothing more than an awkward silence, interrupted only by the sound of cutlery and “can you pass the vegetables?”. Thankfully, Janet Sawyer and Clara Milstead from LittlePod, Steve Ashworth from Smith & Williamson and Jon Overton from Sally Lunn’s Buns were brilliant company and there was a lot to chat about!
In between the celebrations as each product category winner was announced and deciding whether I preferred Beech Ridge Farm’s free-range duck or the Well Hung Meat Company’s organic bone-in fore rib of beef (I couldn’t choose), I was delighted to have a chance to speak to Janet and Clara more about LittlePod. The company is based in Devon and produces natural extracts, such as vanilla, chocolate and coffee, their speciality being Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla Paste. It was fascinating to hear how the business has developed from such small beginnings and to see the real passion they have about the products.
As I have been involved in the food industry before joining Michelmores and genuinely love food, (yes I did have two portions of sticky toffee pudding, who’s counting?) working within this sector is a real highlight for me. I feel very lucky to have been able to attend the Awards and it was truly inspiring to speak to the award-winners, hear their stories and understand more about how they run their businesses. Congratulations to all of them!