The Second Series of The Foodie Bugle Lectures – What We Learned from The Speakers

The second in the series of The Foodie Bugle Lectures was once again hosted in the beautiful Tithe Barn of Thyme At Southrop Manor Estate near Lechlade in Gloucestershire. Food lovers, writers, artisans, producers, food and drink entrepreneurs, PR agents, cookery teachers, bloggers and photographers gathered to listen to our seven outstanding speakers tell the story of their life and work. We learned so much from their experience, wisdom and enthusiasm – here is a short synopsis of the day. All the photographs for this feature were taken by Pascale Cumberbatch, photographer and writer of the Blog Extra Relish {follow her on Twitter @ExtraRelish}.

Wendy Wilson Bett


Wendy Wilson-Bett is the co-founder and Managing Director of Peter’s Yard award winning artisanal sourdough crispbreads. A former Director at Cadbury Schweppes she is now rolling out the Peter’s Yard brand along with the owner of Peter’s Yard Bakery and Café in Edinburgh and Ian Tencor, a former colleague.


Wendy explained how the business relationship between herself, Ian Tencor and Peter Ljunquist, a hotelier-retailer-baker originally from Sweden, now settled in Edinburgh, began. She and Ian had both been made redundant from Cadbury as they did not want to accept positions overseas, and reading a review by Joanna Blythman {also a speaker on the day} showcasing a very talented baker who had opened an amazing bakery and café in Edinburgh, Wendy went to see what all the fuss was about. The rest, as they say, is history. They tasted the delicious Peter’s Yard crispbreads and decided they wanted to join the company and roll out this brand.

Peter’s Yard cripsbreads, whose name and logo came originally from Peter’s farm, have always been sold to delicatessens, food halls, specialist cheese shops and farm shops as the main targets. The shared values and ethics of the three business partners has meant that the brand has always had one vision and direction: product quality and excellent production and presentation are at the core of the business.

Despite the fact that 72% of consumers reject crispbreads as tasting like corrugated cardboard, 26% of consumers say they love them and regard the product as highly nutritious and delicious, particularly with butter and cheese. High-end retailers and eateries such as La Fromagerie, Selfridges, Chatsworth Farm Shop, Fortnum and Masons, Whole Foods and the Waterside Inn all stock and serve Peter’s Yard Crispbreads.

In the beginning Wendy found that by having one or two top buyers for their product on their sales-pitch marketing brochure meant that other buyers would be attracted. By having Chefs recommend the crispbreads to other Chefs also helped to enlarge the outreach of the brand.

We watched Wendy’s Power Point Presentation showing how she used great quotes by Dan Lepard, Valentine Warner, Nigel Slater and Mark Hix to raise the awareness, profile and attraction of the brand.

Despite having worked relentlessly for three years, Wendy thinks that the brand has always “punched above its weight”, and in fact is nowhere near as big as outsiders think it is. She is now deriving a salary from the business which is 0.0033% of what she was earning before being made redundant from Cadbury.

Wendy was very complimentary of the research capabilities of Tessa Stuart {also at the lectures} who joined in the lecture to say how she carried out market research about the brand. Consumers who are addicted to crispiness love the flavour and texture of Peter’s Yard and Tessa predicted that it is going to be a huge brand, similar to Innocent Drinks in integrity and ethical standing. As the audience munched their way through mini-crispbreads we all nodded in agreement. Previous non-crispbread eaters were converted almost instantly, and Tweeted after the lectures that they went and purchased some.

Wendy advised would-be food and drink entrepreneurs to have faith in their instincts, have clearly set out goals, keep focussed on the core market, stick to good principles, never compromise on quality, create value, jobs and financial security and partner with other businesses and people where there are similarities to your own brand.

The future looks busy for Peter’s Yard: there might be even be collaborations with Ocado and Waitrose on the horizon.


Follow Wendy on Twitter: @PetersYard

Joanna Blythman


Joanna Blythman is an award-winning investigative journalist, the author of six landmark books on food issues, and one of the most authoritative and influential commentators on the British food chain. She writes for The Guardian, the Independent, marie Claire, Good Housekeeping magazine and also writes restaurant reviews.

Her most recent book “What to Eat”, published by Fourth Estate, has achieved wide acclaim from food writers, journalists and chefs.

Joanna’s other books are:

Bad Food Britain: How a Nation Ruined Its Appetite.

London: Fourth Estate. 2006.

Shopped: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets.

London: Fourth Estate. 2004.

How to Avoid GM Food: Hundreds of Brands,

Products and Ingredients to Avoid.

London: Fourth Estate. 1999.

The Food Our Children Eat:

How to Get Children to Like Good Food.

London: Fourth Estate. 1999

The Food We Eat:

The Book You Cannot Afford to Ignore

(2nd ed. ed.). London: Penguin. 1998.


Joanna’s lecture was a fascinating insight into the world of investigative food journalism: she has very bravely taken on the supermarkets, GM food producers, petrochemical and drug companies as well as politicians and the “Sugar Bureau” to name a few.

Surprisingly, we learned that Joanna started her career as a food shop owner in Edinburgh. Despite being very passionate about selling the very best food and drink, after several years of not making any money she decided {along with her bank manager} that perhaps she should try her hand as something else.

She always read The Scotsman, “which was an even worse newspaper then” she told us, and upon reading their food columns, thought that she would be able to write them herself knowing more about food and drink than the editor. Joanna was very much influenced by Derek Cooper of the Food and Drink Programme, and wrote about foraging, chocolate, artisans, fresh produce and what she called “a broad range of foodie stuff”.

She went on to win several Glenfiddich Awards for her writing and believes she was helped by sexism in the newspaper industry. When sent to interview Bernard Matthews in Norfolk he underestimated the full force of her investigative research, thinking that as she was just a woman she could not possibly have anything intelligent to ask him, and was taken aback at her penetrating questions. She was asked off the premises.

A spell working at Tesco, as an “undercover spy” employee for one of her books, was one of the lowest points of her career, as was working for Asda, which she felt was like going back to nursery school. There were gold stars and smiley face stickers attributed to workers who politely carried out the Walmart “bretheren” ways.

Joanna commented on how difficult it is to make a living from being a working journalist because the rates of pay have tumbled, competition has increased dramatically and many readers now consume only digital media – much of which is free. She believes that depth of research and analysis is very important and something which print media is most likely to provide.

It was fascinating to hear how, by challenging so called “scientific evidence” provided by agri-businesses and conglomerates that want to sell us more processed food and threaten journalists who dare question their practices, Joanna has spent her journalistic career keeping the food industry under check. “We cannot trust the food industry, we have to keep it under scrutiny. There are no open days for food giants, they do not welcome the public in.” She sees herself as the defender of real food, nature is not a psycopath and it is good common sense that custom, tradition and culture are much more important in helping us make the right food choices.

It took her four years to write “What to Eat”, her latest book published by Fourth Estate {despite telling Louise Haines, her publisher, that it would take 18 months}. Joanna thinks that it is important that writers believe in themselves more, procrastinate less and spend less time doubting themselves. She continues to write, speak and influence, promoting good home cooking and loving food. “There is no need to be too ethical, too healthy. Fat is not the enemy – I regard butter as a superfood!”


Follow Joanna: @JoannaBlythman

Amelia Rope


Amelia Rope is the founder of the eponymous artisanal chocolate company, Amelia Rope Chocolate Limited, established five years ago. Her brand of chocolate has won four Academy of Chocolate Awards and is stocked in Liberty, Whole Foods, Fenwicks and Selfridges, as well as being available online.


Amelia had everyone laughing in their seats as she told us the circuitous route that brought her to create her business: from her middle class family roots, to selling flats and mouse traps, it was finally competing in Masterchef that brought her to realise she wanted to do something in the world of food. She went to study at Valrhona for five days and was captivated by the world of artisanal chocolate making.

The audience tasted their way through several of Amelia’s chocolate bars, which she had broken into small bits and passed round on taster boards.

The early years of Amelia Rope Chocolate Ltd were very challenging: alone, with no help, very little money and fuelled by a passion to produce the very best botanical oil flavoured artisanal chocolates, she worked day and night making crystallised violets and rose petals dipped in chocolate, followed by truffles and then chocolate bars. Once, a very rich client ordered 5000 crystallised petals and she had to work morning round the clock for a week to fulfil the order. Every single product was handmade, hand packed and signed off by Amelia, which meant that the business was not scalable and very much dependent on her.

Amelia took samples of her wares to magazine companies, and Stella magazine, published by The Telegraph group, featured them one Sunday. As a result, all the other magazines soon followed and the orders came in. Despite now supplying some of the top retailers in the country, Amelia only takes a salary of £150 a week, as every penny needs to go back into the business.

Her chocolates are now made out of an artisanal workshop-kitchen, with Amelia personally overseeing every step of the sourcing of the cacao, production and packaging. She told the audience that she would love to be able to buy her own home, go out for supper, have a holiday and “have an existence” – testimony to the gruelling hours and concentration needed when launching and running an artisanal food business.

Amelia’s advice to anyone thinking of launching their own food business is to just go for it – “…sometimes you will love it and sometimes you will hate it, but if I had to leave a legacy behind I would like it to be that I have inspired others to live their full potential and pursue their dream. Small businesses are so very important in our society.”


Follow Amelia on Twitter: @ameliarope

Fran Warde


Fran Warde’s long and distinguished career has taken her from cooking, teaching, travelling and writing, firstly working in some of the best kitchens in London (The Café Royal, The Savoy, Simpsons on the Strand, Dorset Square Hotel and the Trust House Forte chain) followed by writing for some of the best publishers and magazines in Britain. She has been the food editor of Red Magazine, worked in Australia, learned about seafood by working on a prawn trawler and cooked in alpine chalets. She is the co-author of The Ginger Pig Meat Book, published by Mitchell Beazley in 2011.


Fran told us how she never meant to become a food writer: the industry chose her rather than she choosing it. Her early years, working in restaurants all over London, were a form of baptisim by fire and she cooked for the rich and famous all over the world. She and her business partner worked relentlessly as private caterers, but were so busy working they did not keep their eye on the accounts and as a result her catering business came to an end.

She is a firm believer in the power of print: a good review from a powerful newspaper would keep the restaurants she worked in full for months.

When Fran stopped working as a professional Chef she was offered the job to co-write Keith Floyd’s cookery book, and worked in collaboration with Marks and Spencer to produce their line of cookery books.

She worked with Jamie Oliver’s food photographer, David Loftus, to produce “Thirty Minute Italian” which went on to be translated into many different languages and was sold in huge numbers. Fran only received a small up-front payment for the book and no royalties, because, she told us, she was young and naïve back then and did not have what people now call “brand awareness”.

Just after her son was born she was made food editor of Red magazine, and she found that this opened many different doors for her, although she found the long hours and the travel consuming.

Fran wrote four more cookery books, and two of them “French Kitchen” and “French Market” were in conjunction with Joanne Harris, the author of “Chocolate”, later turned into a film starring Juliette Binoche.

Fran has always been a lover of rural life, having grown up on a farm. The Ginger Pig collaboration with Tim Wilson meant that she spent many months researching native animal breeds and butchery cuts and she is now working on the sequel, called “The Ginger Pig Farm House Kitchen” which is going to show how all the pickles, chutneys, cheeses and steamed puddings are created, using every single part of the farm animals and their produce.

The legacy that Fran would like to leave behind her is simple: she would like to encourage every generation to feed their children well, without fizzy drinks, sugary foods and ready meals.

Follow Fran on Twitter: @franwarde

Lindy Wildsmith


Lindy is a freelance food and recipe writer. She has written a variety of features for food and travel magazines and has written and contributed to books on cooking and travel, eating outdoors, Italian food, preserving and curing. She is a member of the Guild of Food Writers and Slow Food and has been nominated for an Andre’ Simon Award for her book “Cured” published by Jacqui Small. Lindy manages a programme of cookery classes at the state of the art Chef’s Room near Abergavenny, including courses with Franco Taruschio OBE, founder of the legendary Walnut Tree restaurant. She also runs cookery courses at the G2 club in Ross-on-Wye, at Divertimenti, Harts Barn Cookery School and Denman College, the Womens’ Institute Cookery School in Oxfordshire.


Lindy shocked us all when she told us that she had failed her cookery “O” level! She went to Art College after school and went to stay in Bologna as part of her studies. There she stayed with an Italian family where the Mamma, in a tiny kitchen, produced the most delicious food. Lindy fell in love with the Italian way of life and eventually found herself as a PA to Valentino. She left Italy to return to the UK and decided that she wanted to write a cookbook. She wrote a synopsis and found herself rejected by many different publishing houses.

Eventually Aurum Press published her first book which was called “Tutta Pasta” and after it was published Lindy found herself receiving the very first copy through the post. As she opened the envelope, she told the audience, she was mortified because the book had the ugliest cover she had ever seen in her life, and to this day is still very ashamed of it. Nevertheless, her writing career was launched and she then wrote for Conde Nast and many different food and lifestyle magazines, including House and Garden.

Lindy talked us through the complex world of food writing, publishing, royalties, payments, translations and rights. She is delighted that Larousse has bought her latest book “Cured”, published by Jacqui Small, which has been translated into French.

During the lecture we came to see the importance of confidence and instinct in cookery. “God gave you a nose so that you can smell if food is good or bad”, she said, referring to the absurdity of people throwing food away just because a thin layer of mould has formed on a cheese. We discussed how the Italian Mamme are no longer at home, yet Italian families still eat well.

Lindy is an incredibly busy and prolific writer and cookery teacher and despite her busy schedule she is working on a new book all about artisan drinks and Cicheti, the Venetian snacks {similar to Spanish tapas}.

Website: and also

Follow Lindy on Twitter: @lindywildsmith

Franco Taruschio O.B.E


Franco Taruschio was born in Montefano, Italy in 1938. At 16, he went to Hotel School in Bellagio on Lake Como. During his training, he did stages in Lugano, Switzerland and at Clermont-Ferrand in the Puy de Dôme, France. He came to the UK in 1960, met his wife Ann and, in 1963, bought the Walnut Tree Inn near Abergavenny, making it one of the top restaurants in Britain. He sold the restaurant at the end of 2000 and now teaches at The Chef’s Room cookery school with Lindy Wildsmith and at Gusto Infinito in Le Marche, Italy.

Franco and his wife have had five cookery books published, including “Leaves from the walnut tree”, published by Pavilion Books.


Franco Taruschio originally trained the Thyme At Southrop Chef, Daryll Taylor, {“He was one of my boys!”} and so it was poignant to see him in the kitchen chatting to the Chefs whilst they prepared our lunch.

During his lecture Franco told us about important it is to make food fun – wherever he has worked, whether it be at The Walnut Tree or The Chef’s Room, he has always tried to make food enjoyable rather than serious or a chore. “Bring your family, young people and children into the kitchen with you to help you cook!” he urged us.

He was just 25 when he met his wife Ann in Rugby: he had come to England for just six months as part of a training course, and he could not wait to get back to Italy. He met her and was engaged in three days. They have been together for over fifty years.

He described how difficult the early years were in Abergavenny because, as a foreigner in the 1960’s, there were still many inhabitants in the valleys that remembered the Second World War. Despite the isolation and initial hardship the couple worked hard to become part of the local community. At first they focussed on French food because Italy backed Germany at the end of the war and therefore Italian food was not regarded with much respect.

In the beginning Franco decided he wanted to open a pub or inn because the style of cooking could be more relaxed and familial. The years passed, and after winning accolades from both Egon Ronay and Raymond Postgate the crowds began to fill The Walnut Tree and it soon became known as one of the most important destinations to eat authentic Italian food in Britain.

Franco and Ann were great friends of Elizabeth David and she came to stay and eat at The Walnut Tree on many occasions, watching what Franco cooked, making notes for her books and articles whilst he talked about his recipes and methods.

In 1987 Franco won a very prestigious Chefs’ competition at The Dorchester in London, which set him off on the route to stardom. He never intended to become a TV star, but he thought that the publicity and limelight might well help his business. After many awards and accolades he decided to sell The Walnut Tree in 2000, and since then has been teaching both in The Chef’s Room and also at Gusto Infinito in Le Marche, where he was born. He described retirement as a nightmare, and needless to say keeps working every day, helping a number of local charities and passing on his skills to the next generation.

He now considers himself one of the locals in Wales and his grandchildren grow up and go to school in the local community. He fuses locally sourced ingredients with Italian recipes to create dishes that speak of the locality, but are steeped in the culture and methodology of his homeland.

Websites: and also

Kate Gover


Kate Gover is the founder of the Lahloo Tea and Lahloo Pantry tea room and tea emporium in Bristol, sourcing exclusive, specialist teas from small tea gardens all over the world. Lahloo is the name of the iconic 19th century tea clipper Kate Gover’s great great grandfather, George Hockaday, sailed. In 1870 Lahloo won the Tea Race, bringing approximately 500 tons or £1 million, in today’s currency, worth of tea leaves to London.


Kate is a self-confessed “tea geek” – as soon as she decided she wanted to start a tea emporium she read everything she could to research the subject. Ever since childhood she has had an inquisitive mind and an underlying drive to work for herself and set up her own business. Her sense of creativity, artistic flair and retail experience gained from working for Carluccios meant that she was well placed for setting up Lahloo Tea {as well as having an accountant as a husband!}.

As a perfectionist she spent many months working on everything from sourcing to staffing, travelling, training, packaging, branding and administration. When she initially started Lahloo Tea she sold her teas online and also wholesale, targeting in particular restaurants in and around Bristol, where she lives and where her business is based.

Kate told the audience how frustrating it is for a tea lover when so many restaurants have wonderful menus with carefully sourced ingredients, but then the same restaurants go on to serve tea made from cheap tea bags. She believes that taking care in serving good quality, well sourced tea is essential in rounding off a good meal.

Once she opened the Lahloo Pantry tea shop in Clifton, her staff count went from 3 people to 12 people and she therefore found herself becoming a Human Resources Manager, which she never thought she would have to be. She has trained tea infusionists to prepare and serve her 37 different types of tea to perfection as well as use them in some of the recipes for the food they serve.

Kate described the challenges of cashflow management, what to do when an investor pulls out, being so close to your brand that you do not see small details anymore and the importance of putting good work systems in place to ensure best practice.

She recommends using a business mentor when you need objective advice and used the website Gumtree to find the staff that still work for her now in her shop. She looks for people with a good attitude and told the audience that her shop manager, Holly, is a “mini-me” in that she has the same attention to detail and care for the business that Kate has.

While Kate explained how to make the perfect cup of tea we were treated to four Lahloo tea tastings, served as both cold and hot infusions.

It is interesting to note that Laholoo Pantry does offer coffee, sourced from Hasbean, but it only accounts for 5% of total sales. Although her friends told Kate that she must be mad setting up a tea room during the coffee house boom, the sales of specialist teas have been successful and continue to grow. Her vision for the future is to open five more shops and to see Lahloo Tea brand stocked in many more stores.

Website: and also

Follow Kate on Twitter: @lahlootea and @teaadventures and @lahloopantry

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