With the Henley Festival a few weeks back, recipe days with dadimas, and this weekend just gone at the BBC Good Food Show, I have to say I am getting used to the food fiesta lifestyle! I promised that I’d keep you in the loop on the dadima’s journey, and you’ve already read about the Henley festival (see “Wisdom from the pro chefs”). Here, in my 13th blog, I share with you what I took away from the BBC Good Food Show, with my brand-building cap on.
Apart from being able to meet some of my favourite chefs, including the wonderful Hemsley Sisters and the brilliant James Martin, I went to the show as a newbie starting up- to learn, network, and explore opportunities to showcase dadima’s upcoming book. I wanted to talk to exhibitors about the stories behind their products and see how they marketed themselves. It was refreshing to hear some stallholders speak passionately about their products- explaining the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. By the end of the weekend, I felt inundated with information (and technical food jargon), including healthy food & nutrition products, nutrition experts, breads, sauces, oils, olives, cakes, chocolates, cooking utensils etcetera. The list of products was endless, and I was particularly attracted to the small, local business entrepreneurs.
My sister and I really connected with the Hemsley Sisters’ talk and cooking demo, and were fortunate to have a chat with them during the book signing. We immediately warmed to Mel and Jasmine, probably because they are two close sisters (like my sister Tara and I), and for the fact that they showed a real appreciation for home-cooked food, just as we’ve been raised by our parents and grandparents to do so. Whilst I do not live by their entire philosophy, I love dipping into their recipes as part of my own lifestyle, and find parallels in some of their principles, like the use of natural fats (dadima has always used ghee!) and focussing on nutrients, not calories!
James Martin, well- what can I say? I speak for a lot of people that I know when I say that Saturday kitchen just won’t be the same without him. Always hushing the audience’s applause, he came across as a down-to-earth chef, who embraces the cooking and eating experience, without obsessing about calories and fat content. He made no apologies for this, and Tara was gutted that she didn’t get to taste his sticky toffee pudding during the demo. Tara being a final year Medic, enjoyed talking to the food nutritionists and dieticians, listening to the science behind foods- I left that part to her! However, before long her sweet tooth drew her to the brownie stand and she managed to get through quite a few samples and purchases!
I came away from the event feeling overwhelmed, but more focussed than ever on the dadima’s brand and forthcoming book. So here are the key messages that I took from the weekend:
- There are so many healthy food products, and one can almost be made to feel guilty for a little indulgence – that’s not dadima’s style or in keeping with our brand values – always room for cheeky extras (all in the name of moderation)!
- Food fads and healthy eating extremes work for some, but I have always lived a lifestyle which is sustainable and doesn’t feel like an extreme.
- The preparation and consumption of food needs to be an enjoyable experience (as my favourite chefs showed!) After all, we spend a large chunk of our lives earning money to eat and live – we should be taking the time to enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures. As my dadima regularly says: “Work hard, eat quality food, and make time to enjoy meals as a family”.
- Some stalls were displaying food as a commodity. I’m not naive to the fact that we live in a material world. However, in developing the dadima’s brand, I’m not willing compromise on the value that food means so much more than a commodity. I couldn’t help but imagine how different it would be if my dadima were standing on a stall selling foodie products. She would be taking each customer on a trip down memory lane with one of her culinary anecdotes, talking about the origin of that product and infusing her story with a touch of life wisdom and magic. For dadima’s, food means passion, love, and there’s a story behind each dish. The expertise behind the products was undeniable, but for me, a sucker for stories, the message behind the food products didn’t come across as strongly as I’d hoped.
- And finally…in the future, I want to be speaking about the dadima’s brand, journey and book at an event like this!
Thank you to all the exhibitors who took the time to talk to me, share their wonderful concepts and exchange contact details!