Cornwall LivingIssue #113
Lending professional guidance and a helping hand in starting a new business, Outset Cornwall are the team to turn to with your lightbulb idea.
Open any food magazine, newspaper, or run a Google search these days, and it’s not uncommon to find a Cornish town, or even the entire county, listed among the UK’s top foodie destinations. From Penzance to Padstow, Cornwall is the proud home of two Michelin-starred chefs, a wealth of multi award-winning restaurants and eateries, plus numerous amazing food producers and manufacturers such as Roddas, Cornish Sea Salt, Buttermilk and St Austell Breweries, to name a few. Surrounded by idyllic Cornish countryside, beautiful beaches and rugged coastline, all of which provide a rich larder of high quality, fresh local produce and ingredients right on their doorstep, it’s no wonder these businesses are having such an impact.
But it’s not just traditional bricks-and-mortar venues and established producers that are thriving; there’s a new generation of small food-business owners throughout Cornwall who are joining the scene, doing things differently and shaking things up. Take entrepreneur Rachel Leaver, who launched her Hayle-based business Baba’s Mezze earlier this year after preparing lots of food at home for friends and family during the initial lockdown.
“I’ve always worked in food, mainly thanks to my dad owning Carn Brea Castle Middle Eastern Restaurant for years and teaching me everything I know,” says Rachel.
“When lockdown hit last year, I needed to keep busy, so I started preparing authentic Middle Eastern dishes from traditional Jordanian recipes, and it became really popular! Word spread and people kept asking me about my food, and I realised I had an opportunity to turn this into a business, something I could fit around home and family life, and Baba’s Mezze was born.”
Featuring dishes such as baba ghanoush, shawarma, hummus and falafel, each mezze is freshly prepared, delivered direct to your door, and contains generous portions of everything. Combined with how delicious her food tastes, Rachel consistently gains rave reviews from her customers, growing her social media following as a result, and she now plans to expand the business by increasing delivery and opening her own premises.
Another entrepreneur with a thriving food business is Italian-born Valentina Langley, owner of La Pineta Italian Deli. When the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns scuppered her plans to open a traditional delicatessen in the centre of Truro, Valentina decided to find other ways to develop her business and bring a little slice of Italy into people’s homes.
“I always had the idea of starting something around Italian cuisine, as I was brought up basically cooking with my mum and dad,” says Valentina.
“But I wanted to steer away from the norm, or I guess what people think is normal for Italian cuisine, which is usually pizza and pasta, and showcase that there’s so much more to authentic Italian food.”
Creating gourmet boxes that can be collected or delivered, DIY pizza kits the whole family can enjoy, and a range of dishes using good yet simple ingredients, Valentina definitely champions real Italian food that her customers love.
With a regular spot at Truro Farmers’ Market, pop-ups at Enys Gardens, Boconnoc Estate and Knightor Winery, plus collaborations with Miracle Theatre throughout the summer, La Pineta Italian Deli is certainly gaining recognition. So much so, that Valentina got invited to be part of Paul Ainsworth’s Travelling Feast at Royal Cornwall Showground in August. “Excited was an understatement!” says Valentina. “These guys are among some of the best chefs in the world and to be invited to work with them was just amazing.”
There’s no doubt Rachel and Valentina have worked hard to launch and grow their businesses, but both would agree they couldn’t have got started without support from Outset Cornwall. “I’ve found Outset really helpful in teaching me the business side of things. It’s like having a second pair of eyes on what you do, giving you fresh ideas and help when you need it,” says Rachel.
Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, HM Government and the Outset Foundation, Outset Cornwall’s award-winning business start-up programme is now in its twelfth year, and continues to support people across the county wishing to start, run and grow their own business. So, if you have a business idea and need help getting it off the ground, contact Outset Cornwall and start turning your ideas into reality.
For an Italian taste sensation with La Pineta Italian Deli, visit www.lapinetaitaliandeli.com
DID YOU KNOW?
You can order middle eastern cuisine straight to your door with Babaís Mezze, just go to www.babasmezze.com and place your order!