ISTANBUL (March 2018)

WED 7TH -SUN 11TH MARCH 2018

ARRIVAL

After a very smooth flight, with many Turkish families on board, I was ready to immerse myself in Turkish culture. On arrival, I ventured into the Bus Station, and after a little help from the locals, found myself on a large bus taking me to Taksim Square, in the centre of Istanbul. This included an hour of horrific traffic and unbelievable driving.

It was time to find my little airbnb with the instructions given to me… A busy High Street led to a very steep hill, where a helpful man in a coffee shop offered to help me find my airbnb. He locked up his shop, took me up another hill and straight to my door! Finally arrived! After a brief and relatively friendly welcome by my host, I ventured out - exhausted and starving. I wandered up a street lined with student cafes and hangout joints and found myself on a rooftop cafe bar with shisha. The menu was totally uninspiring (soggy burgers and greasy cheese sandwiches), so a large bowl of nuts and some Turkish filo parcels with spinach and feta were a welcome alternative; (was hoping to try out their hummus but after countless attempts asking for some, I walked away empty handed).. Emails up to date and then off to bed.

DAY 1: THURSDAY

Walked all the way down from the 6th floor of my airbnb - POURING - walked all the way back up, no site of an umbrella - back down! Luckily the little shop opposite had one umbrella left.

I’d planned to go to Soho House to get some info for my trip as I wasn’t sure my hostess would be quite so helpful. The forecast was rain for Thursday and the rest of my trip, sun, so it made sense to sink into some work there, some good coffee and a snug base. Breakfast - big coffee and a bowl of delicious warm and fruity oatmeal. Lunch - hummus (it was great, quite heavy and bumpy and lumpy but very enjoyable) and a bowl of beetroot, quinoa and avocado salad (not hugely original).

 Lunch at Soho House

Lunch at Soho House

For the afternoon I decided to head to one of the well known Turkish Hamam’s for a proper bath, detox and massage. It was a good 40 minute walk from Soho House and a great way to see the city.

On route - Lots of Baklava shops which were absolutely amazing.

 Turkish Delight shop = these ones have a gooey filling with flavours such as Hazelnut, praline, pistachio and chocolate. 

Turkish Delight shop = these ones have a gooey filling with flavours such as Hazelnut, praline, pistachio and chocolate. 

On the way back, dinner at ‘Guney’,  A great sociable and buzzing restaurant in Karakoy, a fun neighbourhood known for its delicious red wine and good food.

I had a range of the meze options which were absolutely delicious - aubergine paste with walnut and tahini, lots of bread, olive oil and feta was by far the favourite. Hummus, warm and again, not a smooth texture but delicious.

 Tahini, Aubergine and Walnut Meze. 

Tahini, Aubergine and Walnut Meze. 

FRIDAY 9th:

Early morning walk over Galata bridge to the Spice Market and Grand Bazaar.

 Fisherman at Sunrise

Fisherman at Sunrise

Wandered up and down through streets and streets, getting lost, forgetting quite how large this market is, both inside and out. Some great conversations with guys at the Turkish Delight stands and some of the most delicious Pistachio chocolate covered triangles I’ve ever eaten - breakfast complete!

 Inside the Grand Bazaar

Inside the Grand Bazaar

Next stop - coffee break in the sun next to the Bazaar, opposite the Galata Bridge researching for best hummus restaurants…

Long walk along the river and out into the suburbs in the sun, to Chora Church. Very interesting walking through hilly suburban streets. The church was covered in scaffolding and only the ‘Chora museum’ and 2 parts of the Mosaics were available to see, so I decided not to pay the hefty fee and popped into the recommended Asitane restaurant next door instead. This was a white table cloth vibe with only one table occupied (women drinking wine), which didn’t appeal so back into town - this time on a bus.

After more market walking and backstreet climbing (so many hills!), I came out on the front again near Galata Bridge. A buzzing local Turkish restaurant offered everything from Kebabs to Lentil Soup and Hummus… This time I went for the big spinach plate with egg and yoghurt, served with lots of Turkish bread. Great choice.

 Spinach and egg with Turkish Yoghurt and bread

Spinach and egg with Turkish Yoghurt and bread

I then walked back along the buzzing streets with more baklava and coffee shops, to visit the hotel where I stayed with my family 15 years ago, the ‘Blue Hotel’, right next to Aya Sophia.

 Aya Sophia

Aya Sophia

More walking, a chai and some work catch up, plus many snaps of the meal below; I felt it necessary to take photos of some hummus  two guys were eating!

More walking, back over the galata bridge,and a recce of many restaurants where I found a great vegan haunt (perfect for Saturday’s breakfast) called ISO and had a drink at a restaurant with beautiful views over the Bosphorus, lovely but not the most buzzing place for dinner.

 Beautiful restaurant in Karaoke (next to the vegan cafe)

Beautiful restaurant in Karaoke (next to the vegan cafe)

I headed towards the Jazz Cafe which is where I was planning to go after dinner. I ended up at the same restaurant as the night before - such a great ambience, lovely food and great service. I was given a great table and ordered a large glass of red wine, lentil soup to start (which is a staple dish here and I can see why!) and a delicious tahini falafel dish.

 

 

Total km walked : 21!

SATURDAY 10th:

50 minute walk through the new town back over the bridge to the old town (getting to know this route rather well!) and up to Aya Sophia. A short coffee break on route with some pistachio baklava. I wasn’t quite ready to indulge in the traditional Turkish breakfast consisting of cheese (however the sweet cheese pastry which I often get given when I visit manufacturers in the industry in London is amazing… maybe later!)

Queues at Aya Sofia!! Tip - get there early or don’t go on a Saturday.

It is one of the most beautiful buildings and in my opinion more beautiful outside than in. There is still a huge amount of renovation work occurring inside so a lot of the views are blocked with scaffolding.

Onwards to the Blue Mosque which is opposite Aya Sophia and across the gardens. The courtyard was open which has a wonderfully holy and humbling feeling about it but the mosque itself is closed for renovation until May.

I spoke to a man outside who showed me to a secret passage where the women pray and from there, up tiny circular stairs, I was able to look through the window into the mosque which was amazing.

 Women's Prayer area, Blue Mosque

Women's Prayer area, Blue Mosque

Seeing these places feels much more humbling when no one else is there… Aya Sophia was slightly ruined by the numbers of people inside, the noise and the clicking of cameras. Still a very special place, especially looking away from all the people and up at the beautiful ceiling..!

The afternoons plan was to visit Kadakoy, a ferry ride across the Bosphorus, known for its charming and chic neighbourhood with more cafes to enjoy and the famous fish market. However due to fog, no ferries were crossing. Instead I befriended a young Turkish man, after asking him which Metro I needed, and we ended up walking together to the station, back in the direction of Aya Sophia. He was able to practice his English which was perfect as he’d had a lesson for his erasmus that morning. The Metro was steaming! He mentioned that it was never this packed but must have been due to the fog. We both decided to give it a miss and said our goodbyes.

I decided to head back along my favourite street to get lunch. I’d been eyeing up ‘Noah’s pudding’ at ‘VALIDE’, a great coffee shop with a wonderful hidden upstairs area and terrace - great when it’s sunny. I chose ‘Noah’ for my lunch, a large orange bowl of fruit and nuts mixed with some sort of jelly (sounds odd but it’s good!) sweetened with honey along with a cappuccino. Opposite on the other corner is ‘Hafiz Mustafa’, a high end chain of the best Baklava, coffee and cake in Istanbul. Highly recommend.

After a while, I thought I would try the ferry again. Along the way I stopped at a snack shop and found a very interesting ‘Chickpea paste bar’... It was delicious! Certainly something to try making at home..Back on the pier, the ferries still weren’t leaving. I stayed for a while, thoroughly enjoying the noisy chatty conversations being thrown back and forth between ticket officers and commuters.

The old city was heaving by 3pm. The tunnel back under the road was like a stampede. Every alleyway into the Bazaar was also snail paced, full of Turks, perhaps Turkish tourists, perhaps locals - I wasn’t sure but I was still yet to hear the voice of someone from the UK. I’d been mistaken for Russian, Argentinian & Brazilian (often it’s Dutch).  

I visited another Mosque around the corner and found another hub to relax with an orange juice. More Istanbul and restaurant research and a reminder of how easy it is to phone a friend in London :)

By the evening I was so exhausted from all the walking but was determined to make it to ‘French Street’ which was, to my utter surprise, the street next to my apartment! I hadn’t realised that this busy little hippy restaurant by the apartment had a walkway through it which was just the beginning of French Street. A very hippie, quirky and extremely steep street with lovely old steps and tables outside on either side, I settled for the restaurant where the waiters said they would make me hummus even though it wasn’t on the menu.. The waiter said he’d do anything that any of the other restaurants couldn’t do and with a seat opposite some live music, I couldn’t resist.

The chef made a portion of hot hummus from scratch for me and the waiter also brought me his own speciality of grated carrot with tahini and olive oil (another new winner!)

A great fun evening with the local Turks.

 Discussing all things Hummus

Discussing all things Hummus

SUNDAY 11th:

Last day!

I headed to the neighbourhood that I was yet to visit, Cihangye and found a great place for local Turkish brunch - a typical turkish buffet with cheeses, hams, hummus and dried fruits as well as bowls of tahini, nuts, nutella, breads and so much more. As it was my last day and this went on till 3pm, I thought I’d come back and make it my main meal of the day as a late lunch.

Of course, coffee first. After my walk I decided on ‘Journey’ as my cafe. As a more upmarket area of town I found myself amongst English speaking Turks and more hipster characters with a relatively European/Turkish menu and a price tag. Very enjoyable anyhow - indulged in a book and coffee in hand, I was bashed over the head by a magazine - a guy who thought I was his mate!

We ended up chatting, exchanging business cards (he flies to London once a month and has lived all over the world), and advised that I visit Fatih, the Syrian district renowned for its hummus.

He advised I get a taxi as it’s miles away. Of no interest to get a cab in what was the hottest day so far(!), I walked back across the Galata Bridge (I thought I had said goodbye to this bridge) and all the way back to the area that I had walked to on my first day to Chora. However, I went a another way and saw the workmen’s streets which were full of groups of men working on their various trades.

 Men's Trading Street

Men's Trading Street

  Green Grocer in Cihangye, the first (and only) one I’d seen.

Green Grocer in Cihangye, the first (and only) one I’d seen.

By the time I reached Fatih (60 mins later), the street was full of activity but there weren’t as many restaurants as I expected, having hummus on their menus. I took a few photos and then rushed all the way back to Cihangye to make it back to the buffet place before 3pm!

By this point I had unbelievable blisters and walking along the main road back was not so fun so I jumped on a bus and after some more painful walking (I got off too early), I made it to the place just before 3pm but they’d already put the buffet away… disaster.

That restaurant was hidden from the sun so I felt better after finding a lovely cafe nearby where I was able to sit outside in the sun, drink coffee and eat a local honey and date cake instead.

Somehow the late afternoon had crept upon me and it was time to collect my suitcase from a local cafe near where I’d stayed. They’d kindly kept my bag for the day as my airbnb guests didn’t offer this service. I ate roasted chestnuts from the street food vendors, brought some Turkish Delight and got on the very busy bus back to the airport.

The plane was swamped with English speaking people which was rather a surprise and unfortunately I was back to reality again.

Tips - Tamsin High Street is like Oxford Street, without the congestion but instead people hoarding towards you. I’d avoid this at all costs unless you want high street chains, doner kebabs and being surrounded by the millennial Turk.

Sustainability: There’s a LOT of fishing. Stale bread goes to the fisherman but the amount of fish being sold for the famous ‘Fish sandwiches’ off the Galata Bridge on the key is somewhat rather shocking… but perhaps its relative. Something to look into.

Optiat: Nature-Friendly skincare

We had the opportunity to speak with Anna from Optiat, a brand that is very similar to us: All about sustainability and promoting a circular economy. They do this by taking ingredients that would otherwise be discarded and transforming them into their natural skincare products. 

We wanted to speak with Anna after being inspired by her new food waste blog series and we are very proud to be a part of it! 

Is there been anything exciting recently going on with Optiat? What have you been focussing on?

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for us recently, the run up to Christmas was a little crazy and now seems like a big blur! We only fully launched our first range of products in November 2016, so this really felt like our first proper Christmas - It’s fair to say we learnt a lot!! A major recent project that we have been focusing on was the expansion of our website. As our product ranges grow, we needed our website to reflect this, so we had exciting product photoshoots in order to get it looking beautiful. The site finally launched in mid December and we are so pleased with how it looks.

Where do you source your coffee grounds from?

We collect the coffee that we use in our coffee scrubs from a selection of independent artisan coffee shops and restaurants all over London. We now have a portfolio of about 50 different cafes and restaurants. The fact that we get the coffee from coffee shops and restaurants also means that it is the highest-quality Arabica coffee, as opposed to the lower-grade, cheaper Robusta coffee found in most coffee scrubs. If we didn’t collect the used coffee grounds from these places it would otherwise be destined for landfill - and that is what we are trying to avoid.

How is it working alongside your sibling (I’m sure you get asked this all the time!)?

We do get asked this question a lot and I can totally see why! I guess you have to be wary of mixing family life and work life, but honestly for us it works really well. There can be disagreement and the odd argument, but we are able to speak our minds freely with each other so the resolution is always speedy. The best part is that it’s so much fun, we laugh a lot and take great joy in being able to share Optiat’s success with the rest of our family. 

What did you do before starting Optiat?

Before forming Optiat my brother was working in finance for a hedge fund and I was working as an area manager for a supermarket managing several stores. My brother and I have very different strengths, he’s the number cruncher and I’m more the creative, so we really compliment each other when it comes to heading up our own business.

Excited to hear that your next range of products will be soaps. Where do you manufacture all your products?

Yes! We are really excited to soon be releasing a lovely new range of soap bars made from brewed chai spices which were previously used to make chai tea. By the time the chai production process is over, the spices are no longer needed yet they still smell amazing! We have taken the chai spices and used them as the core ingredient for the new soaps range. As always, they are vegan, cruelty-free, sustainable and 100% natural.

All of our products are manufactured by hand in the UK.

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What do you find are your biggest challenges?

I would say that the main difficulty has been explaining to those responsible for the repurposed ingredients why we want to take them away! For example, if there is a new member of staff at one of our coffee shops, it is critical that we explain the process of our collections. When we go in and try to explain that we don’t want a latte or a cappuccino, but actually just want to collect their used grounds, there can be some confusion! Once they realise it is in the name of sustainability people are delighted to be involved.

You’ve got a great number of stockists in the UK and Europe. How was it reaching out to the countries outside of the UK?

We made the decision to exhibit our products at trade shows outside of the UK and this was really how we began establishing relationships with retailers and customers in other countries. It was a big risk as we really had no idea whether people would respond well to us or be interested in stocking a foreign brand, but in the end we think it’s paid off!

What has been the reaction to your brand mission from customers and press?

Fundamentally we wanted our brand to be totally unique, we wanted to be doing something which no one else is doing and we wanted to prove that there can still be great value in the things that we are choosing to simply dispose of. This mission is appealing to customers as they are increasingly looking into the provenance of the ingredients of the products which they are choosing to buy. Consumers are beginning to shop in a much more conscious and critical way.

We encourage our customers to ask us what has gone into the making of our products: what is the process? What are the ingredients? Where are they from? Increased transparency for the customer about a product and its ingredients empowers them to make more informed choices about the brands they choose to buy from and the products they choose to use. We stand for beauty with a conscience, our customers don’t have to worry about what will happen when our products eventually are washed down the drains as the ingredients are natural and chemical-free.

The feedback that we have received from press about our story has been very positive. There is a greater focus on both sustainability, but also on natural and organic cosmetic products. We are trying to do something different by promoting a more environmentally conscious objective, and people are really buying into that vision.

What is your proudest achievement from 2017?

We attended Vevolution Festival at the end of 2017 where we pitched at a dragons’ den competition against five other vegan brands. We ended up being selected as the winner which was extremely exciting! It was my first experience getting to hold a giant cheque so that was a nice box to tick!

What are your plans for 2018?

There are so many wonderful natural ingredients which are unfortunately going unused. We are keen to rescue these unloved, unwanted ingredients and continue to develop more skincare products from them. We have two or three exciting ideas that are currently in their first stages of development. We are also revisiting our coffee scrubs and exploring some exciting new scents, so there’s lots to look forward to in 2018!

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Superfood Flapjacks from Store Cupboard Ingredients!

One of my 2018 New Year's Resolutions is to use up as much of the ingredients in my food cupboards as possible. This is the intention for every meal that I cook as well as for recipes that include baking, healthy snacks and desserts as well as entertaining.

On the 2nd January, the first official day back at work, I was already distracted by 11am.  I started opening my cupboards and various jars and put together the most delicious mixture for a healthy flapjack recipe…. 10 minutes later I'd used up a jar with seeds and 2 half plastic packets with nuts. Boom! 

I would love to share this recipe with you and hope that it inspires you to delve in to your store cupboards and grab ingredients that you can mix together very easily to bring about a fruitful, hearty, texture filled flapjack!

Recipe:

300g oats already mixed with hempseed

20g raisins

2tsp turmeric powder

2tsp moringa powder (pot finally finished!)

2tsp cinnamon

Handful of seeds (pumpkin etc)

50g blanched almonds (packet finished!)

1 tbs tahini 

50g blended walnuts 

1 large tbs maple syrup

1 small dollop of pomegranate molasses 

100g coconut oil (I always have so much of this!)

Mix together all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Then melt the coconut oil and add to the mixture along with the maple syrup and pomegranate molasses. Stir well until all the mixture is combined and pour the mix into a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake at 180c for 20 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes and then tuck in! I tend to break apart the tray back into big chunks rather than cutting them straight with a knife. 

This will keep for over a week in an airtight container.  YUMand have some ChicP Banana, Avocado & Cacao hummousse to dunk it into (Or layer on as icing)!

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I Pita The Fool That Doesn’t Like Hummus

ALEX HEAD from Social Pantry has written a wonderful Autumnul blog post on ChicP... with a delicious recipe from us too! 

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There’s a lot to be said for a good dip; they’re a delicious way to jazz up a dull desk lunch and can bring dinner parties to life when paired with a fresh crudités. As much as I try to make everything from scratch, there are some fantastic packaged dips on the market at the moment and one of my favourites is London-based ChicP.

Tired of bland, unoriginal supermarket versions, ChicP founder Hannah set about creating dips from surplus vegetables otherwise destined for the bin. The colourful range (all made using a base of chickpeas) includes Beetroot & Horseradish, Herby Hummus and Carrot & Ginger.

Hannah has created this quick, tasty falafel recipe using the best-selling Carrot, Ginger & Turmeric dip as the key ingredient – perfect in Autumn to enjoy with salads, add to hearty soups or wraps or to eat with a warm chicken dish. Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic diets for centuries to boost the immune system and help prevent disease – this dish is great to give your immune system a boost when the weather dips low. Enjoy!

 Ingredients Makes 10-12 falafel 2 pots ChicP  Carrot, Ginger & Turmeric  hummus 200g plain flour or (brown rice flour for a gluten-free option) 1 tbsp coconut oil (for frying)  Method 1. Place the contents of both the hummus pots in a bowl followed by the flour. 2. Mix well with a spoon until the hummus and flour are completely mixed together. At this point, you can opt to add a few of your own ingredients if you want to add some flavour such as chilli powder, chopped herbs etc.. If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more flour. 3. Now get your hands stuck in and roll the mixture into as many balls/patties as you can. I like mine to be around 3cm long, nice big bite sizes. 4. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and when the pan and oil are nice and hot, place the balls into the pan, around 5-6 at a time. 5. Heat for around 3-4 minutes on each side until they are nice and browned. They should be cooked long enough so that the inside is nice and hot. 6. Serve straight away or keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. They’re also great to freeze!  Recipe courtesy of  ChicP .

Ingredients
Makes 10-12 falafel
2 pots ChicP Carrot, Ginger & Turmeric hummus
200g plain flour or (brown rice flour for a gluten-free option)
1 tbsp coconut oil (for frying)

Method
1. Place the contents of both the hummus pots in a bowl followed by the flour.
2. Mix well with a spoon until the hummus and flour are completely mixed together. At this point, you can opt to add a few of your own ingredients if you want to add some flavour such as chilli powder, chopped herbs etc.. If the mixture is too wet, add a bit more flour.
3. Now get your hands stuck in and roll the mixture into as many balls/patties as you can. I like mine to be around 3cm long, nice big bite sizes.
4. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan and when the pan and oil are nice and hot, place the balls into the pan, around 5-6 at a time.
5. Heat for around 3-4 minutes on each side until they are nice and browned. They should be cooked long enough so that the inside is nice and hot.
6. Serve straight away or keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. They’re also great to freeze!

Recipe courtesy of ChicP.

ChicP's Summer of Festivals

Here, there and everywhere!  The journey of ChicP at this summer’s festivals

Summer 2017 has been a busy spell for ChicP.  Aside from our brand spanking new packaging, I’ve been hopping from one festival to the next, keeping the hummus lovers happy and the wonky veg away from waste!  Here’s a round-up of ChicP’s summer of fun:

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Field Day Festival – 3rd June

Kicking off the festival season in Victoria Park, Field Day gave festival-goers their first taste of ChicP for the summer.  Collaborating with Soffles Pitta Chips - in their FANTASTIC pitta-mobile – we started setting up accompanied by nothing else but other food vendors, meeting and greeting each other, and asking to borrow bits and bobs.  It was incredible to see the park’s setting transform from being beautifully empty to a total sea of people by midday!  And we really felt the gradual increase in people, with lunch-time being slow and steady and then mid-afternoon suddenly seeing our hummus pots and the pitta chips flying off the stall, with everyone pre-snacking before the music got going.  At that point, I have never seen somewhere SO busy, with hordes of people filling what-had-been empty spaces.  It was a fantastic festival to be a part of, merely for watching the mish-mash of characters walking in – sometimes covered in glitter, sometimes in fancy dress, or sometimes in something else!  It was a scene that I won’t forget, and festival-goers really enjoyed learning what ChicP was all about.

Glastonbury – 21st-26th June

They don’t get much bigger than this!  Partnering up with Olive in a Bus in their red hippy van, ChicP arrived the day before the Glasto party begun and set up our Somerset-home for the week near one of the main entrances.  I found it was a fantastic opportunity to show off ChicP’s multi-use, with the hummus displayed both as a part of Olive in a Bus’s mezze platter and as hummus pots again with Soffles Pitta Chips.  The famous family-feel of Glasto really becomes a reality when experiencing the festival as a food vendor, with everyone from young children to grandparents coming to try our products.  It was amazing to see them sitting around the nearby benches enjoying their snacks whilst immersing themselves in this historic festival.  For me, it was without a doubt the best Glastonbury I’ve ever been to – not only was it SUNNY the entire week, but the line-up (including Chic headlining on the Sunday afternoon) was phenomenal.  All of this made it extra lucky that ChicP were there for this year, and we absolutely loved our time!

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Lambeth Country Show – 21st-22nd July

Brockwell Park was ChicP’s next festival destination, and what a fun weekend it was!  Lambeth Country Show shared many similarities with Field Day, not only in terms of the festival-style itself but ChicP got the chance to have another ride in Soffles pitta-mobile! We had a very early start and parked up right next to the busy cocktail tent (where Soffles had been the year before).  The music here was fantastic – none more so than the amazing instrumental brass band who were walking around the festival and stood by our stand performing for ages!  Whilst people came up to buy their pitta chips and hummus, and stood listening to the band, I could see just how much effort everybody had put into dressing up.  The constant flow of customers (rather than Field Day’s surges) made it easy for me to appreciate the different genres of music here, from local choir singing through to the reggae really kicking off on the Sunday evening.  And thanks to lots of crowds asking us where the Dog and Duck race was, I was fascinated by the diversity of entertainment on offer.  A fantastic festival for ChicP, both in brand awareness and overall enjoyment!

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Port Eliot - 27th-30th July

Having been to Port Eliot in previous years, for me this one was the best yet.  ChicP were there in full swing, with our own gazebo stand which was decked out with wooden boxes, ChicP décor and glass bowls.  We were based right in front of the main estate house, which was a fantastic spot!  I had 5 friends helping me out with this one, and the company was most definitely needed – we needed to stay upbeat during the three days of totally torrential rain!  Although those days were quieter for us, ChicP was met with an incredibly warm reception from customers.  Our hummus tubs were the main product, sold as a three-pack variety accompanied by our surplus fruit and veg salad boxes.  I’d collected all the produce needed for these from New Covent Garden market and prepped them prior to arrival, producing a large variety - including aubergine salad, tahini and butternut squash salad and a complete range of roasted vegetable toppings to make ChicP a complete meal.  We also put up a breakfast option (which went down a treat with hungry-girl demands) using our Banana, Avocado and Cacao hummousse topped with Primrose Kitchen granola and fresh natural yoghurt – an energising little bowl of heaven!  This beautiful event located on the river went incredibly quickly, and I met a lot of people from London who were delighted to learn that ChicP was available to buy when they got back home!

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Wilderness – 3rd-6th August

And then came one of my favourite festivals!  Based in Cornbury Park near Oxfordshire, Wilderness is so local to me that it would have been almost rude if ChicP hadn’t been there!  

Not too big, not too small, this picturesque setting for a lovely summer weekend has incredibly pretty lakes that many people hop in for a quick swim in the morning.  To experience Wilderness alongside Olive in a Bus once again was fantastic – in the same mezze style as we served at Glastonbury – and was made even more of a success thanks to our great location next to the cider tent in the main courtyard-y area!  Festival-goers really loved them, sitting on grass and hay bales to enjoy their food, with our whole range fitting in perfectly with the bright and colourful scenes passing us through the festival!  Maybe ChicP will have its own van next year to show hummus off in all its glory?!

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Soul Circus - 18th August

Our penultimate festival was an incredible yoga event with some absolutely fabulous teachers.  Soul Circus, based in Gloucestershire, showcased the extreme realm of yoga in one weekend, with every session being led by teachers pushing their bodies completely to the limit – absolutely incredible!  I can safely say that (bar the popularity of ChicP) the biggest result to come out of Soul Circus was my completely changed opinion of the practice!  It was great for ChicP to be contributing as a part of the first big event for the main catering service, Solar Kitchen.  There was a diverse spread on offer too – bright and colourful vegan salad dishes (using pulps), energy balls, turmeric lattes and (of course) hummus.  ChicP was the option for the main lunches every day, and presented in a big bowl looked like a beautiful rainbow!  Being in the VIP area next to the catering area was very special as well, and our spot meant we could see everything being in the middle of all the events going on. Amongst the yoga was a story tent, cycling tent, music stages and bars – which together formed a big circle of spectacular entertainment!  I thoroughly enjoyed the day here, it was great to see what it was all about and we had a fantastic response to the hummus.

River Cottage – 28th-30th Aug

ChicP’s summer festival fun ended on an incredible high at River Cottage.  An event founded and led by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall – and being a camping festival for the first time this year - we were lucky enough to experience yet another beautiful setting.  We set up on the Friday night in a fantastic location in the market-place tent.  Being a stone’s throw away from the River Cottage itself was incredible, as we could see for ourselves the setting for where the cookery school, recipe book exhibits and even weddings happen!  It was great fun being surrounded with around 10-20 other exhibitors, ranging from honey cider to a sausage roll stand that sold out every day!  ChicP were being paired with PopChips this time around, and the bustle of the families around our table in the fantastically fortunate weather created a great atmosphere.  Having driven down in a car full to the brim with hummus, I had been worried that we may have brought too much – but what was I thinking too much?!  ChicP completely sold out bar one pot by the Sunday evening, which I was incredibly happy with.  On a more personal note, Sunday was a particularly special day for me, being fortunate enough to be contributing in the on-stage panel, alongside Hugh and two other sustainable brands, Snact and Toast Ale.  The tent was absolutely bursting with people listening to our discussion - with people stood outside of the marquee as well, all we could see was people!  This showed just how popular Hugh is, and it was a fantastic experience to be introduced to such an intrigued crowd by him.  We all explained our businesses, and then there was a Q&A with him and all of us.  This snippet of the weekend really did reinforce my drive and ambition to keep doing what I’m doing, with everyone giving random rounds of applause during the middle of the questions, staying behind to ask questions individually, and coming up to the ChicP stand to talk to me afterwards!  I couldn’t have been happier with how the weekend went, and what a way to round off the summer!

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ChicP Hummousse Tray Bake by @nibsetc

In the off chance you are friends with a professional hummus maker, make your own, or got overexcited about the ChicP cacao hummousse at Wholefoods, then keep on reading.

And even if the above does not resonate with you?  Keep reading anyway.

Having just completed my first show as and with nibs etc. [!!!] as is always the case post trade show or in this case, Balance Festival, there are insane amounts of waste.  From packaging to food, it makes me itch with frustration.  The benefit of being a trader?  You are actually in a slightly better position to save it from the bin.  On the other hand, my fridge is now so over stocked I can’t even remember what’s where.

 NO MATTER.  We’ll bake it all into breakfast cakes.  Starting with this one.  Special delivery from  Alara Oats  – which just so happen to be UK grown and milled by water-power [how cool is that] resulting in a  very  low carbon footprint and coincidentally very delicate oats – perfect for grinding, and potentially bircher muesli-ing [recipe to come... maybe…] – plus copious amounts of  ChicP  Cacao Hummousse from my Balance Festival stand partner [and fellow food waste fighter] and an insatiable appetite for all things breakfast [especially when breakfast is baked into cakes], equates this:   Hummousse Tray Bake   nibs etc. original recipe. Makes 1    Ingredients: 2 / 150g Banana 1 1/4 cup / 290g Cacao Hummousse [I used  ChicP - Sweet Cacao Hummousse ] 3 tbsp / 30g Olive Oil 2 tbsp / 40g Honey 1 cup / 100g Ground Oats/Oat Flour [I used  Alara – gluten free porridge oats ] 1 cup / 80g Shredded Coconut 1 tsp Baking Powder 1/2 tsp Baking Soda Pinch Salt 50g / 1/3 cup Dark Chocolate Chips/Chopped [I used 70%]  Method: Combine the wet ingredients: mash your banana with a fork into your baking bowl.  Add the hummousse and mix well until fully combined and as smooth as possible.  Then pour in the olive oil and honey and mix again until entirely incorporated. Preheat your oven to 170*C Fan/180*C/375*F, and lightly grease with oil/olive oil a 19cm x 9 cm / 11" x 7.5" [or there abouts] baking pan. Then add the dry ingredients to wet – if using whole oats, blitz down for a couple of minutes until as fine and soft as can be [porridge oats will be best for this as they are milled finer by nature, hence, Alara]. When all ingredients are mixed through and combined, pour into your baking tin, and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the tin half way through. You could eat straight from the hot tray for gooey effect [I personally would not judge you…] but it is better to allow to cool [stick in the fridge for 15-20 minutes if impatient like me] 3/4 of the way.  This will make a sturdier slice and more substantial breakfast [the cooler it is, the denser, and the less likely you are to consumer the half the tray in one sitting.  And no I am not guilty of this.  Just saying]. Serve with  Coconut Collaborative  [FAVOURITE coconut yoghurt – that from a regular dairy yoghurt fiend], and muddled berries.  Consume: For breakfast, afternoon tea, dessert. Alternatively, top with: quark, salted-caramelised banana and fresh orange slices, or vanilla / cardamom custard,  The Collective - Straight Up Yoghurt  [my personal fave dairy yoghurt] with griddled stone fruit [in summer], or any seasonal fruit compote of choice. Substitute cacao hummousse with regular, unsalted hummus and add a tablespoon or so of cacao – note: not tested.   

NO MATTER.

We’ll bake it all into breakfast cakes.  Starting with this one.  Special delivery from Alara Oats – which just so happen to be UK grown and milled by water-power [how cool is that] resulting in a very low carbon footprint and coincidentally very delicate oats – perfect for grinding, and potentially bircher muesli-ing [recipe to come... maybe…] – plus copious amounts of ChicP Cacao Hummousse from my Balance Festival stand partner [and fellow food waste fighter] and an insatiable appetite for all things breakfast [especially when breakfast is baked into cakes], equates this:

Hummousse Tray Bake
nibs etc. original recipe. Makes 1

Ingredients:
2 / 150g Banana
1 1/4 cup / 290g Cacao Hummousse [I used ChicP - Sweet Cacao Hummousse]
3 tbsp / 30g Olive Oil
2 tbsp / 40g Honey
1 cup / 100g Ground Oats/Oat Flour [I used Alara – gluten free porridge oats]
1 cup / 80g Shredded Coconut
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
Pinch Salt
50g / 1/3 cup Dark Chocolate Chips/Chopped [I used 70%]

Method:
Combine the wet ingredients: mash your banana with a fork into your baking bowl.  Add the hummousse and mix well until fully combined and as smooth as possible.  Then pour in the olive oil and honey and mix again until entirely incorporated.
Preheat your oven to 170*C Fan/180*C/375*F, and lightly grease with oil/olive oil a 19cm x 9 cm / 11" x 7.5" [or there abouts] baking pan.
Then add the dry ingredients to wet – if using whole oats, blitz down for a couple of minutes until as fine and soft as can be [porridge oats will be best for this as they are milled finer by nature, hence, Alara].
When all ingredients are mixed through and combined, pour into your baking tin, and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the tin half way through.
You could eat straight from the hot tray for gooey effect [I personally would not judge you…] but it is better to allow to cool [stick in the fridge for 15-20 minutes if impatient like me] 3/4 of the way.  This will make a sturdier slice and more substantial breakfast [the cooler it is, the denser, and the less likely you are to consumer the half the tray in one sitting.  And no I am not guilty of this.  Just saying].
Serve with Coconut Collaborative [FAVOURITE coconut yoghurt – that from a regular dairy yoghurt fiend], and muddled berries.

Consume:
For breakfast, afternoon tea, dessert.
Alternatively, top with: quark, salted-caramelised banana and fresh orange slices, or vanilla / cardamom custard, The Collective - Straight Up Yoghurt [my personal fave dairy yoghurt] with griddled stone fruit [in summer], or any seasonal fruit compote of choice.
Substitute cacao hummousse with regular, unsalted hummus and add a tablespoon or so of cacao – note: not tested.

 

A BEAUTIFUL BLOG ABOUT CHICP FROM NATURALLY PEACHY

 Everyone loves Hummus and no one as much as ChicP founder Hannah McCollum who has turned her passion for hummus into a flourishing business founded on an amazing ethos. Hannah uses only surplus fruit and vegetables to create delicious, healthy and exciting hummus.  The UN Food and Agricultural organisation estimate that one third – yes you read that right ONE THIRD of all food produced for human consumption is wasted each year! Much of this is ‘ugly’ fruit or veg that is apparently unfit for human consumption. This is something that we just can’t get our heads round – it all looks the same anyway once it has been juiced, chopped or mashed! Why won’t we  buy a carrot that is a little on a wonky side or a potato that  has a few nobbles, who are we kidding, perfection is over rated anyway, and the crazy thing is that there is nothing wrong with these vegetables apart from aesthetics!…and we thought we were entering the age of equality!

Everyone loves Hummus and no one as much as ChicP founder Hannah McCollum who has turned her passion for hummus into a flourishing business founded on an amazing ethos. Hannah uses only surplus fruit and vegetables to create delicious, healthy and exciting hummus.

The UN Food and Agricultural organisation estimate that one third – yes you read that right ONE THIRD of all food produced for human consumption is wasted each year! Much of this is ‘ugly’ fruit or veg that is apparently unfit for human consumption. This is something that we just can’t get our heads round – it all looks the same anyway once it has been juiced, chopped or mashed! Why won’t we  buy a carrot that is a little on a wonky side or a potato that  has a few nobbles, who are we kidding, perfection is over rated anyway, and the crazy thing is that there is nothing wrong with these vegetables apart from aesthetics!…and we thought we were entering the age of equality!

 We applaud entrepreneurs such as Hannah who are doing something about this dire situation…and there is something we can all do to help, starting by supporting amazing brands like ChicP.  We spoke to Hannah about how ChicP came about, what consumers can do to help reduce food being thrown away and why she likes to eat her hummus for breakfast, lunch and dinner….  You were previously a private chef, how did you first become interested in cooking and creating new recipes?  I went to cookery school where I did lots of experimenting with food and recipes and after that I did a lot of jobs where I was put in the hands of clients and started creating recipes for them. Over time I started to use the left over vegetable dishes that were perfectly good, they were still fresh and delicious, and blend them to  make different dips and all sorts of other dishes from the surplus food. I would cook frittatas and quiches from the left overs and thats where I got the inspiration to create new recipes and be sustainable, to not waste food.  What inspired you to create ChicP?  I was going home after work every evening from my office job in central London and finding that when I went to the supermarket there was no healthy hummus or anything that had a sustainable touch. I was always going home and turning my leftovers into hummus each evening because that is the only kind of thing I wanted to eat – so I thought there was a gap in the market for something that was healthy using raw vegetables and sustainable.  Where did you get the inspiration to use surplus vegetables for your hummus?  I was doing a lot of events and could see the amounts of wastage, not just vegetables but steak, fish, cakes…anything you can think of! I then realised that there was a lot of press about vegetables that weren’t being used in supermarkets because of their shape or size and I wanted to do something about it.

We applaud entrepreneurs such as Hannah who are doing something about this dire situation…and there is something we can all do to help, starting by supporting amazing brands like ChicP.

We spoke to Hannah about how ChicP came about, what consumers can do to help reduce food being thrown away and why she likes to eat her hummus for breakfast, lunch and dinner….

You were previously a private chef, how did you first become interested in cooking and creating new recipes?

I went to cookery school where I did lots of experimenting with food and recipes and after that I did a lot of jobs where I was put in the hands of clients and started creating recipes for them. Over time I started to use the left over vegetable dishes that were perfectly good, they were still fresh and delicious, and blend them to  make different dips and all sorts of other dishes from the surplus food. I would cook frittatas and quiches from the left overs and thats where I got the inspiration to create new recipes and be sustainable, to not waste food.

What inspired you to create ChicP?

I was going home after work every evening from my office job in central London and finding that when I went to the supermarket there was no healthy hummus or anything that had a sustainable touch. I was always going home and turning my leftovers into hummus each evening because that is the only kind of thing I wanted to eat – so I thought there was a gap in the market for something that was healthy using raw vegetables and sustainable.

Where did you get the inspiration to use surplus vegetables for your hummus?

I was doing a lot of events and could see the amounts of wastage, not just vegetables but steak, fish, cakes…anything you can think of! I then realised that there was a lot of press about vegetables that weren’t being used in supermarkets because of their shape or size and I wanted to do something about it.

 Why is there such a massive amount of surplus veg?  It is difficult – a lot of it is to do with supermarket standards and what is seen to be fit. I have visited a lot of farms and been shown what is acceptable and goes through as a ‘class 1’ and that is because of their shape or their size –  the right colour carrots or cucumbers. They are graded a green or an orange and they have to be exactly what the supermarkets require. The ones that are not are taken down a different conveyor belt and are sorted and sent off to to markets and farmers are loosing out on a huge amount of money  that they should be getting for their vegetables whatever shape or size they are . They go to markets and are used for other things but still there is a lot of waste.  What can we do as a consumer to help this situation?  It is about being more open minded, and stop worrying that our carrots aren’t straight, trying to shop locally and support local farmers. It’s not just about vegetables but what you choose on the menu at restaurants too. It is trying to be sustainable, eating less Beef, trying to eat locally, trying to eat as many vegetables as you can. Maybe have meat twice a week rather than five times a week and just buy less and use what you have got in your cupboards. Also buying local vegetables that are in season rather than ones that have come from miles away.

Why is there such a massive amount of surplus veg?

It is difficult – a lot of it is to do with supermarket standards and what is seen to be fit. I have visited a lot of farms and been shown what is acceptable and goes through as a ‘class 1’ and that is because of their shape or their size –  the right colour carrots or cucumbers. They are graded a green or an orange and they have to be exactly what the supermarkets require. The ones that are not are taken down a different conveyor belt and are sorted and sent off to to markets and farmers are loosing out on a huge amount of money  that they should be getting for their vegetables whatever shape or size they are . They go to markets and are used for other things but still there is a lot of waste.

What can we do as a consumer to help this situation?

It is about being more open minded, and stop worrying that our carrots aren’t straight, trying to shop locally and support local farmers. It’s not just about vegetables but what you choose on the menu at restaurants too. It is trying to be sustainable, eating less Beef, trying to eat locally, trying to eat as many vegetables as you can. Maybe have meat twice a week rather than five times a week and just buy less and use what you have got in your cupboards. Also buying local vegetables that are in season rather than ones that have come from miles away.

 What are big supermarkets doing?  There are lots of initiatives. Sainsbury’s have got a 2020 plan and Tesco are doing what they can to reduce waste on every level throughout the supply chain . All supermarkets are doing a  better job than they were – there is just still a huge amount to do and it is difficult because it is hard to judge the buyers behaviour. It starts with the packaging and the ordering from the manufacturing level of all foods right down to the consumers plate.  It needs to be judged better and there need to be regulations to prevent food being thrown out at the end of the day because of what it says on the label, as it is usually absolutely fine.   Is it important for you to use locally sourced products and support British farmers?  Very – it is what I am trying to do. At the moment I am getting all my vegetables from Spitalfields as I am not making the quantity, but the idea is to grow the business so that I can get all my vegetables from British carrot growers, parsley growers etc. With the bananas and avocados obviously it isn’t possible to buy local, but there are always going to be bruised bananas and avocados in England so that won’t be a problem.  Have you always been environmentally minded?  I was always the one at school who hated seeing things wasted, I was always turning lights off, saying ‘don’t use too much fairy liquid!’, recycle, recycle! It has always been something that is a big part of me really and that is the reason I wanted to start ChicP, to do something with food that is really sustainable – otherwise I would have never started a food company.     Tell us how you created the brand and developed the products?  I started a business plan at work and spoke to so many people about it. I got my friends to trial it then I went to London markets with it, bought all the surplus and then trialled it on friends then came up with names. Finally when I had enough backing around me with people saying I should really do this – I did a big event in London -the first ever Fare Healthy. I was accepted by the organisers who said they really loved the product and they loved what I was doing, so I used that as my first opportunity and it was a great success! This led me on to carry on and develop the brand. I did further branding, loads of developing and getting my name out there. I would go to every event possible , every start up event, with samples to get feedback.  Why hummus?  It is a really easy product to make and so versatile, I love it, everyone loves it! You can have it with anything and it is an amazing product to eat with every single meal and something people can eat for breakfast and dessert! It can be changed if consumer trends change too. We make a sweet hummus too which is just getting people’s minds round the concept, because chicpeas don’t taste of anything you can really play around with the recipes.  When should we eat hummus?  It is full of protein so it is actually a really good start to the day. I would happily say, either a normal hummus or a savoury hummus with toast and avocado in the morning, is an extremely healthy breakfast as there is absolutely no sugar. Alternatively the sweet hummus has banana and avocado and  is a really yummy healthy chocolatey hummus as there is no refined sugar and it is full of energy. Otherwise for lunch, as a side, as a snack. I mix it in to pasta , have it in meat or in sandwiches. I use it in every meal!

What are big supermarkets doing?

There are lots of initiatives. Sainsbury’s have got a 2020 plan and Tesco are doing what they can to reduce waste on every level throughout the supply chain . All supermarkets are doing a  better job than they were – there is just still a huge amount to do and it is difficult because it is hard to judge the buyers behaviour. It starts with the packaging and the ordering from the manufacturing level of all foods right down to the consumers plate.  It needs to be judged better and there need to be regulations to prevent food being thrown out at the end of the day because of what it says on the label, as it is usually absolutely fine.

 Is it important for you to use locally sourced products and support British farmers?

Very – it is what I am trying to do. At the moment I am getting all my vegetables from Spitalfields as I am not making the quantity, but the idea is to grow the business so that I can get all my vegetables from British carrot growers, parsley growers etc. With the bananas and avocados obviously it isn’t possible to buy local, but there are always going to be bruised bananas and avocados in England so that won’t be a problem.

Have you always been environmentally minded?

I was always the one at school who hated seeing things wasted, I was always turning lights off, saying ‘don’t use too much fairy liquid!’, recycle, recycle! It has always been something that is a big part of me really and that is the reason I wanted to start ChicP, to do something with food that is really sustainable – otherwise I would have never started a food company.

 

Tell us how you created the brand and developed the products?

I started a business plan at work and spoke to so many people about it. I got my friends to trial it then I went to London markets with it, bought all the surplus and then trialled it on friends then came up with names. Finally when I had enough backing around me with people saying I should really do this – I did a big event in London -the first ever Fare Healthy. I was accepted by the organisers who said they really loved the product and they loved what I was doing, so I used that as my first opportunity and it was a great success! This led me on to carry on and develop the brand. I did further branding, loads of developing and getting my name out there. I would go to every event possible , every start up event, with samples to get feedback.

Why hummus?

It is a really easy product to make and so versatile, I love it, everyone loves it! You can have it with anything and it is an amazing product to eat with every single meal and something people can eat for breakfast and dessert! It can be changed if consumer trends change too. We make a sweet hummus too which is just getting people’s minds round the concept, because chicpeas don’t taste of anything you can really play around with the recipes.

When should we eat hummus?

It is full of protein so it is actually a really good start to the day. I would happily say, either a normal hummus or a savoury hummus with toast and avocado in the morning, is an extremely healthy breakfast as there is absolutely no sugar. Alternatively the sweet hummus has banana and avocado and  is a really yummy healthy chocolatey hummus as there is no refined sugar and it is full of energy. Otherwise for lunch, as a side, as a snack. I mix it in to pasta , have it in meat or in sandwiches. I use it in every meal!

 TO READ THE REST OF THIS BLOG, HEAD TO THE BLOG PAGE ON THE NATURALLY PEACHY WEBSITE BY CLICKING  HERE  

TO READ THE REST OF THIS BLOG, HEAD TO THE BLOG PAGE ON THE NATURALLY PEACHY WEBSITE BY CLICKING HERE 

My ChicP interview with Goodness Guru

Isa from Goodness Guru approached me to talk about the ins and outs of starting a food business...

I hope the below is helpful to anybody starting up in the food industry. 

 

What came first the food waste or the hummus?

The food waste…. The only reason I started ChicP was because I was creating hummus and dips from leftovers and tired of seeing huge amounts of food wasted at all the food events I was working at, as well as seeing it in high street chains at the end of the day.

 

When did you first have the idea for Chic P?

I was working in Central London in a lovely office job but got tired of not being satisfied by what I was doing. I have always been passionate about sustainability and food waste and with this job, there was nothing sustainable, in fact it was quite the opposite.

I was going home in the evenings and turning leftovers into hummus. There was never a supermarket hummus that I really enjoyed buying and I realised that there were no dip brands offering a sustainable solution as well as being healthy. ChicP hummus has half raw vegetables which means that it has half the amount of fat to normal hummus, not to mention that the vegetables are all class 2 and/or from surplus!

 

How did you go about scaling up production from in your kitchen to a factory?

This was one of my biggest challenges. It took me months to find a manufacturer. I started developing with one but then had to find someone else due to minimum order quantities. It requires a lot of ringing around, patience and asking people in all areas of the food industry. Finally, one recommendation got me to where I am now, however they still have minimum order quantities so I am continually doing lots of events at weekends and trying to find more stockists in order to make sure I sell all the hummus I produce each week. If I can’t, I donate some to food charities.

 

How did you undergo the process of meeting with stockists?

It is different for every stockist but normally it is a case of finding out who the buyer is for each retailer and getting in contact. I advise you to be well prepared - know everything about your product, try and be as retail ready as possible and know your prices.

 

What’s been the biggest challenge in starting your own business?

Finding a manufacturer and my short shelf life. I am still struggling with the shelf life! Being a chilled product is not easy...

 

What’s been the most rewarding part of running your own business?

Seeing it grow from one step to the next has been satisfying and it’s very rewarding to see the hummus now in all the top London Independents, especially Wholefoods. Getting to this stage and no longer making the hummus myself is a huge weight off my shoulders… however, there are just as many challenges in different areas!

 

What tips do you have for maintaining a good work / life balance?

I believe that it is hugely important to keep a balance between your work life and having a social life. This was something I made sure of when I started ChicP. I work very hard but still make sure I see my friends during the week - luckily ChicP is a relatively social business so I can have quite a bit of fun at weekends if I’m doing events.

It is easy to get sucked to your work but try and say yes to social things and get up earlier the next morning or work later the following evening if you need to catch up.

This goes the same with exercise - I will always try and make time in the day to exercise and the joy of working for myself means that if I need a break in the middle of the day, I can jump outside and go on a run.

 

What is the health motto you live by?

Work hard, play hard.

 

What is your guilty pleasure?

Ooooh tricky one… I have a massive sweet tooth, so anything sweet. Normally homemade cake or nut butters and chocolate.

 

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a food business?

I would advise them to really really research the market first to make sure that if they are sure about their idea, it is different from anything else out there in their category. There is a huge amount of competition and the shelves are becoming more saturated so if it doesn’t have strong USP’s, it’s going to be difficult to reach those shelves. Sustainability is also a key factor in 2017…