This episode begins with the ATB duo joined by Rachel Mallows MBE DL, organiser of the Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards and Managing Director of The Mallows Company. They are back on the road this week visiting June Plum, the award-winning Caribbean restaurant in Wellingborough. Everyone praises its authentic feel.
The group begin by reflecting on the recent Food and Drink Awards, in its fifteenth edition, which Rachel describes as ‘glorious’. Businesses have been reporting increased turnover since the awards, showing that the awards are having the desired effect. On a personal level, Ben and Frazer discovered June Plum through the restaurant’s win at the Food and Drink Awards. The unique, independent local businesses that are able to find a spotlight through events like this are worth celebrating, and there is a brochure available online which anyone can use to look at the amazing businesses nominated for awards.
Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards
Ben asks Rachel to reflect on the first Food and Drink Awards, which took place in a marquee. Since then, they’ve found homes at the Country Cricket Ground and now at the Royal and Derngate, with keynote speakers including Michel Roux and Jason Etherton. They’ve seen pubs, restaurants and other businesses see tangible increases in revenue after winning or being nominated, as well as the more intangible increases in confidence that allow them to try new things and grow as businesses.
Rachel goes on to discuss the pandemic, which she says was the biggest challenge they have experienced both as the Awards and for the sector. She describes what businesses have been calling perma-crisis, with the pandemic leading into the intersecting economic stresses that make up the cost-of-living crisis. However, they have maintained professionalism and positivity and found ways to continue to support businesses.
At the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards, Rachel received a special award. The Contribution to Northamptonshire Award was one of only two awards given directly by All Things Business and was given to Rachel for her work celebrating the county’s food and drink sector. Rachel was surprised at the honour, but Ben wanted to show how much he looks up to Rachel as inspiration for All Things Business’s awards, as well as to recognise her contribution, facilitating collaboration and helping businesses grow.
The next part of the podcast features Freddie Duke, chef at June Plum. He’s been there just under a year and it’s his first role in the sector. He talks about how much he’s enjoying working at June Plum and its unique place within Northamptonshire, with unique food that’s like nothing you’ve ever tried before.
Freddie originally wanted to be a chef in the army before a friend of his put him in touch with Jodi Jenny, who owns and runs the restaurant while also working in the kitchen as Head Chef. She’s in a unique position of running the restaurant both in a business sense and operationally in the kitchen. Freddie describes her as his ‘best mate’ and loves that he’s able to discuss recipes and flavours with her, which is a great learning opportunity for him as an early career chef.
Reflecting on 2023
Freddie cooks up a feast for Ben and Frazer, including dragon-braised goat, scotch bonnet hummus, jerk chicken and a myriad of other tasty dishes. While taking in the Caribbean cuisine, Ben and Frazer reflect on 2023.
Both highlight the 150th edition of All Things Business as a proud moment, with Frazer celebrating the first edition of the Milton Keynes Education Awards too. It’s also been the first full year of the merger between All Things Management and Rocket Creative, which is now trading as GIANT, and is now working with businesses on a national level.
In terms of aspirations, Ben highlights the further expansion of All Things Business into a new area, which will hopefully be finalised and potentially move to a franchise model. It will also be the biggest year for awards and events, as well as fundraising with some exciting announcements coming soon in January.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from All Things Business – The Podcast and you’ll hear from Ben and Frazer again in 2024.
Listen to the full episode here: