Pasties go posh
PUBLISHED: 12:05 12 July 2013 | UPDATED: 12:05 12 July 2013
The humble Cornish pasty is a local delicacy, baked and eaten in most Cornish homes every week. It is also an established national treasure eaten all around the country. The Posh Pasty Company offers gourmet pasties to pasty-lovers, tourists, and locals using the finest Cornish ingredients. This is my first business, excluding the egg company I ran when I was 10 years old that ended with two rare-breeds chickens that didn't mate and a small book full of red pen! What's more ridiculous is I'm trying to sell my pasties to the Cornish, having only lived here for seven years. I want to explain why I think that the pasty industry will find room for a little bit of posh and talk about some of the great initiatives going on around the county for artisan producers and small businesses.
The Cornish pasty is known around the world and visitors to the county won’t call a trip complete unless they’ve eaten the local speciality. I’m going to put it out there and hope that no-one takes any offense, but occasionally there are pasties that let the side down... Some of the mass-produced, automatically crimped pasties can leave you wanting and the sourcing of the ingredients inside is questionable at best. I am really passionate about local food as you’ll see on ‘The Hungry Sailors’ ITV1 this month, and I love pasties. When I moved to Cornwall I was astounded at how delicious the handmade pasties were and my mum was kindly shown how to make them by Margaret Bailey - a true local expert. Since then I’ve discovered that there is a great deal of variation and different families have their own recipes and crimping styles. So, why not make up my own twist? After all both my son Indiana and daughter Pippin were born here and will now grow up with their own family pasty recipes to pass on.
WHO WE ARE?
We are the Posh Pasty Company, a small family business run by me, James Strawbridge, and my wife Holly. Our two children are excellent quality control and test every batch of pasties and occasionally armed with a rolling pin they will play with some pastry - sort of an early apprenticeship! We make hand-crafted gourmet pasties on an eco farm in Cornwall. The farm is called Bumblebee Farm and is also a B&B offering takeaway pasties funnily enough?! www.bumblebeefarm.co.uk My mum runs the entire place as a wild bee sanctuary encouraging pollinating insects and specifically solitary bees. The first of its kind in the UK and an inspiring setting to work. Having been the family home for the last seven years it feels good to be gradually making the farm sustainable as a business as well as from a green perspective. I work as a very small team making all of my pasties by hand and with the help of an old friend Tom Larkin - another pasty making virgin of whom there’s a surprising amount around the county... Tom is now our pastry chef and knocks up rosemary infused pastry, turmeric coloured and coriander pesto before you can say “Crimp”...
WHAT MAKES US ECO
I’ve spent years working on sustainable living and have written a book with my dad called ‘Practical Self Sufficiency: the Complete Guide to Sustainable Living’ published by Dorling Kindersley. This book reflects all of the renewable technologies and eco gadgets that now go into making an off-grid pasty. Sounds a bit hippy and worthy but actually it’s good for my overheads and the solar panels mean our pasties are made with 100% Cornish sunshine: electricity is supplied by solar PV, as well as a waterwheel and a couple of wind turbines. My recommendation for other small businesses is to seriously consider solar power if and when you have any opportunity to invest. The payback times are excellent and energy costs are only going to rise in the following years.
CHOOSE CORNISH - ARTISAN PRODUCERS & SUPPLIERS
As I mentioned I’m passionate about promoting local and sustainable food. What makes our pasties truly ‘posh’ is the amazing Cornish produce that goes into them. Filled with the best that Cornwall has to offer and it has taken years to find the right artisan producers. In fact on ITV1 at the moment you can watch a series that introduced me to lots of farmers, fisherman and artisan producers around Cornwall. Have a look at an episode of ‘The Hungry Sailors’ near your area and you’ll be amazed who’s on your doorstep...
Currently I have started with just a few flavours of Posh Pasties and this will grow with more Limited Editions overtime. My wife Holly often describes our pasties on twitter @PoshPastyCo as free-range pasties grazing the fields above a coastal path, relaxing in an orchard or chewing the cud in the dairy. This is a little joke because we know where all of our star ingredients come from and most of the rest is organic. James Kittow from Kittow’s Butchers supplies the top quality Cornish beef and lamb, Giel Spierling makes the Cornish Gouda for our Triple Cheese & Onion from his farm near Lanreath and all of our other suppliers are people I know personally. I could go on with more of the great people who grow and produce the tasty ingredients, and I will... Sue Proudfoot makes Cornish Smuggler up in Bude - a lovely creamy cheese that balances Giel’s gouda superbly, Richard’s greengrocers for Cornish spuds and onions, Trewithen dairy butter in the pastry and natural yogurt in the minted lamb, St Austell Brewery 1913 Cornish Stout, Cornish Orchard Co cider and the list goes on. This leads me on nicely to Choose Cornish a campaign encouraging people to shop locally. My top tips for finding local treats would be explore farmers markets, local food festivals, delis and watch the Hungry Sailors!
Having kept my own free range chicken business from an early age, reared goats and pigs and kept all sorts of poultry I’m very aware about farm animal welfare. For me this stems from the tough act of having to kill an animal that you’re familiar with and then eat it. It is not easy or fun and heightens the respect for the livestock that you keep. This is why we make a donation out of every pasty we sell to the charity Compassion in World Farming. It’s a really great charity that if you’ve got time I’d check out...
PASTY POWER - GIG ROWING
Giving back to our local community is important to us and we’ve discovered that Gig Rowers have a real appetite for pasties - no surprise there then. Both Holly and I started rowing recently and we now spend our weekends travelling around the county racing. When we launched we gave free pasties to our local gig team for doing so well at the recent World Gig Rowing Championships in the Scillies (more about the history and fun of Gig rowing coming in another article soon). Now we’ve opted to sponsor our local team and attempt to keep them well fuelled with Pasty Power this season. I think it’s a really nice model for local food businesses to support their local sports clubs as it promotes healthy living and lifestyles. The knock on effect is that the producers are recognized for their role in the food - work hard and then play hard.
We’re currently a really small business, and supply our pasties to a handful of delis and cafes in Cornwall. What we really want is to sell our pasties direct to customers, to promote our product and our ethos in person, plus continue to enjoy more of the county than just our home area of Fowey. So we have joined a brand new business start up initiative called Crowdfund Cornwall @cfcornwall Through this we’re aiming to raise the funds to build an amazing Posh Pasty Co Food Truck - a truly unique and eye-catching mobile catering vehicle to enable us to sell our pasties at festivals, events and foodie markets across Cornwall and the UK. This crowdfunding system works on a great ‘pledge and reward’ scheme: for instance if we raise our target amount any donations we receive will be rewarded with free pasties, individual catering events, signed books etc. Crowdfunding is worth considering if you need to do some fundraising.
We’re currently half way there - we have a vintage VW pickup truck called Jasmine - but she needs a lot of work doing to her in order to convert her into a food truck. Jasmine is no ordinary vehicle. Behind her slightly rusty exterior is an engine that has the ability to run on biodiesel - in fact that’s another thing that gets produced out of waste vegetable oil on the eco farm where we’re based. So we can keep our green credentials intact even when we’re zooming around the county. If you help us raise the funds to convert Jasmine into a food truck, you’ll be helping us to spread the Posh Pasty love to a much wider group of people than we are currently able. The money will be spent on paying a catering vehicle conversion company to build a very cool looking refrigerated unit on the back of Jasmine for transporting the pasties. This will have an awning that pulls out to cover driftwood trestle tables mounted with heated pasty display units and a demonstration area for pasty making demos, samples, crimping races, and more. In return for your donation, we’ll reward you in true Posh Pasty style with delicious food, cookery demos, and one-on-one cooking experiences. Plus your investment will help us to spread our ethos about buying local, sustainably produced food around Cornwall. www.crowdfunder.co.uk/posh-pasty-co-food-truck/
Holly, Indiana and Pippin
James and the Mens Fowey Gig Team
Pasty demonstration with local butcher Richard Kittow
Minted Lamb and yogurt with fennel and chilli
Filming The Hungry Sailors ITV
Posh Pasty Company
Tom Larkin - pastry chef
Vintage VW awaiting conversion to Food Truck
Pasty Shack - 100% Cornish sunshine
Sue Proudfoot - cheesemaker
James Strawbridge - Hungry Sailor and co-founder of the Posh Pasty Co