“We’ve all been to shows where the best you can get is a dull burger or bacon bap – but we wanted to showcase the incredible variety of local food and drink producers,” says head of shows Alan Lyons. “We have therefore worked hard to make sure that all of our food and drink suppliers come from within the region, and there really is something to suit every appetite. From artisan cheese and dried meats to grass-fed beef, organic cider and vegan delights – one thing is for sure, you’d better come with a big appetite.”
Little Jack Horners
Mells-based Little Jack Horners aims to make the best sausage rolls you can buy and you can judge for yourself in the food and drink marquee.
Founder James Hughes-Davies initially trained to be a journalist, before switching to become a chef at Daylesford Farm Shop, where he found his love of local produce. He went on to rent a small kitchen and started producing game pies before moving onto sausage rolls. “All the pork comes from a friend’s smallholding, who specifically breeds Gloucester Old Spot pigs for us,” he says. “It’s simple and straightforward; focusing on one thing makes life easier.”
And he’s got the awards to prove his success. “We won Mendip Small Business of the Year in 2016 and Taste of Mendip in 2018. The Bath & West Show represents our region, it’s unpretentious and interesting. We will be in the centre of the food hall where you can sample some of our sausage rolls.”
Cornish Cheese Company
For cheese lovers, look no further than the Cornish Cheese company, which specialises in soft blue cheese. “We were looking for a farm diversification project and we thought about doing ice cream, yoghurt or bottled milk, but then we realised that no one was doing a soft blue cheese like Gorgonzola – so we started making it,” says director Phillip Standsfield.
Over the past 18 years the business has grown from just Phillip and his wife Carol to employing 15 people. Their herd of Friesian Holsteins are fed and bred for cheese production, with Phillip overseeing the day-to-day running of the farm and cheese making. “I went on a cheese course and then spent the first 12 months perfecting the cheese,” he says.
They have entered the British Cheese Awards and are hoping to scoop some prizes, having already gained some prestigious accolades including World Champion Cheese in 2010 against hundreds of other cheeses. “That dramatically changed our lives and our business – we tripled the size of our dairy.”
Since beginning the cheese business in 2001 Phillip has seen the blue cheese industry in the UK change rapidly. “In 2001 there were only 16 blue cheeses being made in the UK, now there are 90.”
Silver Swift Drinks
If all that has made you thirsty just head over to Silver Swift Drinks – which produces natural botanical spritzers. “Our founder, Rose Unwin, competes in a lot of half Ironman triathlons and while she was coming back from one competition, she had the idea for a 100% natural spritzer without any added sugar or additives,” says Ellie Crawley, business development manager at Silver Swift Drinks. “So, she developed a range of alcoholic drinks that people could enjoy guilt-free while living a healthy life.”
The drinks are available in four different flavours: Pear Gin Tonic, Wild Rose Gin, Basil Blush Vodka and Elderflower Iced Tea Vodka. They come in both cans and glass – keeping them environmentally friendly too.
“Each Silver Swift spritzer is hand-crafted using nature’s finest ingredients, over 90% of which are from the UK,” says Rose. “We think this is important because we want to minimise our carbon footprint where possible and celebrate the treasure chest of fresh produce we have on home soil.”
If flapjacks are your guilty pleasure then stop by at Flapjackery, started by friends Carol and Sally four years ago after Carol had the idea that focussing on a single product would be the way forward in the food industry.
At the time they were baking for a county markets co-operative. “When we finished doing that, Carol came to me with the idea that we make a few flapjacks and sell them at farmers markets,” says Sally. “We started just making a few in each of our kitchens, then going to a few local farmers’ markets.”
When they first started the company they had to make a very important decision – chewy or crunchy? So they took samples out to the people of Tavistock and chewy came out on top. “We couldn’t decide because one of us liked chewy and the other liked crunchy,” smiles Sally.
They fondly remember the Bath & West as their first big show. “We sold out on our first day – the exhibitors were kind of laughing at us because we just turned up with our bedsheets over our tables and our banner. We had to go home each night and make more.”
The company now employs 14 people, has two little industrial units, five vans and attends around six shows a week. “Every time we see Bath & West come round in our diaries we think of how far we’ve come.”
New this spring is a vegan range in five different flavours, and a new lemon drizzle flavour. “The flavours have become more elaborate over the years, we can now source our ingredients and they arrive on pallets, rather than just buying them from Tesco.”
That’s just a few of the amazing food and drink exhibitors at the show – there are over 80 more to discover.