Shop Local: Artisan food producers take new opportunities in lockdown
- Credit: Archant
Artisan food producers and retailers have told the Crow about the importance of shopping local, ahead of the festive period.
Lockdown has seen artisanal foodies start businesses of their own or take up new opportunities in the local area.
Award-winning Cambridgeshire fudge-maker, Joanne Canalella, turned her hobby into her full-time business – The Fudge Can – after being made redundant in the coronavirus pandemic.
Joanne found herself out of a job at an IT training firm due to this year’s economic downturn and applied to sell her homemade fudge at markets in Beds, Cambs and Herts including Royston – where she can be found every Wednesday.
She told the Crow how it all began: “I really love crumbly fudge, the sort of thing you can get in Devon and Cornwall. In 2013 I developed my own recipe as a hobby while I was working full-time and gave some to the mums at school – the next day one came sprinting across the playground and said she had eaten it all.
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“I’ve had another lady burst into tears, saying she hadn’t tasted anything like that since she was a little girl when her grandma made it. Small children’s whole faces light up when they try it.
“Last year I got made redundant, and I started a new job in January but was made redundant again so now this is my full-time job. I started at Royston market in August. Herts and Cambs have a great community spirit and people do support traders very well and the traders support each other.”
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Joanne has won at the Guild of Fine Food Great Taste Awards for her creations – with the latest accolade being three stars for her caramel latte fudge.
She said: “They told me I had got three stars and then they phoned again and I thought it was because they had made a mistake, but actually they were ordering to serve at the judge’s dinner. They called again a month later and it was served at the ceremony.”
Joanne uses fresh cream and butter from Blunham’s Dairy in Bedfordshire. She has so far made 24 different flavours of fudge, including maple and toasted walnut – her favourite – and the bestseller, vanilla.
You can catch Joanne and her fudge at Royston market on Wednesdays – she usually has around eight different flavours on the stall at any one time – so there’s plenty to tempt your tastebuds. You can also check out her website at www.thefudgecan.com.
Eight years ago, Perry Wakeman worked as an IT consultant in London and would regularly take clients out to high end restuarants – he developed a taste for artisan British cheese and that led him to form his own business, complete with maturing rooms in Papworth. The 32-year-old told the Crow: “We were selling 70 to 80 per cent French cheese, but I flipped that on it’s head and found British versions. I would go to Michelin star restaurants and trick them into tasting British cheese by telling them it was French. Everyone was loving British cheese because it is fantastic and is awesome quality from our isles. I trained in France and learned from the best, and I judge at two world cheese awards.
“I set up maturing rooms in Papworth and our latest venture means our cheese is in Bury Lane Farm Shop right now.”
The British cheese deli counter at Bury Lane, along the A10 near Melbourn, is a new venture for Will Clayton and his farm shop team – one Perry, who lives in Steeple Morden, was keen to collaborate on.
“COVID has decimated the British cheese industry – our cheese heritage is directly under threat. Restaurants were shut down in lockdown, and British cheese had to go in the bin. Our British cheese heritage is so important as are independent families making cheese from 50 to 60 cows rather than on the large scale used by big businesses and Bury Lane has really got behind that.
“People that gravitate towards artisan cheese want to know where there food comes from, they want to know the farmer and know the science. Go to Bury Lane and tell them what you usually like and they will pinpoint a style that is for you. They have pretty much a 99 per cent hit rate on finding someone’s new favourite cheese. In a COVID-secure way, the guys at Bury Lane will give you tasters, they have been trained by me to know what woud be a perfect swap.”
Bury Lane Farm Shop’s Will Clayton said: “We are focussing more on local, British, sustainable food – we are British farmers at heart and we have had that pretty much across the shop but not at the deli.
“We thought it was the right time to make Perry our sole supplier and the response from customers has been absolutely amazing.
“We can’t expect customers to buy our foods unless we are passionate about them ourselves so – our staff understand our cheeses and can recommend a British alternative that we believe is nicer.”
Will said the obvious challenge is Christmas – he said they will be putting up a 220-square metre marquee to move tills outside, so there is more space indoors.
“We will have highly local British turkeys, ham, beef and cheeses and more – all the things people love at Christmas!” he added.
For more on Bury Lane go to burylanefarmshop.co.uk.