We are always on the lookout for new and interesting places to host the quarterly Food and Drink Networking Club and this time, we were very kindly hosted by Haywards Farm Shop in Tonbridge, a business that is thriving in the current climate of customers’ interest in food provenance. Alisa Sweeney of Thomson Snell & Passmore welcomed everyone and introduced the food and drink presenters who included our hosts and also, Stephanie Durling from Produced in Kent.
There was a blustery wind outside but this didn’t put off Haywards’ chef Alan Franck from firing up the barbecue, allowing us to enjoy the September evening sunshine whilst treating us to mini-burgers and sausages, steak skewers and sweet chilli chicken skewers accompanied with coleslaw and ketchup from Curtice Brothers. All this was washed down with Marden based Turner’s medium dry cider, Long Man Brewery’s pale ale and local apple juice. A veritable feast.
Fed and watered, it was time for the speakers. Spencer Hayward from Haywards Farm Shop walked us through their growth over the last 18 months since moving into their current premises and their exciting seven year plan. Their ongoing mission is, of course, to support local producers but they are also eager to provide quality products that represent value for money to their customers.
Stephanie Durling from Produced in Kent was our second speaker and she too described the growth of this organisation that promotes Kent based food and drink retailers, products and services. It started out as ‘Kentish Fare’ based within Kent County Council, evolving into Produced in Kent in the early 2000s and a limited company in 2005. Stephanie explained how Produced in Kent works with its producer members, to support them and provide networking opportunities and events. She was also pleased to announce the launch of Kent Food Trails: a series of visitor experience publications, each focussing on famous Kentish produce with recommendations for local producers, events and places to eat, drink and stay in Kent.
Presentations over, we could return to networking: whilst the forty strong foodies mingled and chatted, greeting old acquaintances and forging new ones, Haywards kindly allowed us to sample some of the cheeses at their deli counter. Charcoal coloured black cheddar was a noteworthy highlight - a great addition to your dinner party cheeseboards.
There was a great turnout with almost 40 attendees, including plenty of newcomers – The Little Wooden Bar Company, The Superfood Company, Pipehouse Gin and Biddenden Vineyards to name a few. We also welcomed the Vice Chairman of Kent Farmers’ Markets Association for the first time, Bob Taylor. It was a very successful evening and we’re all looking forward to the next event in early 2019!
Food and Drink Club news!
It’s very exciting to note that The Cook Book – Sevenoaks – Tonbridge - Tunbridge Wells is now available to pre-order (out on 1st November)! I have been involved in helping the charity Tree of Hope bring this book to fruition and the charity is kindly supported by Thomson Snell & Passmore. Tree of Hope is a charity that helps children and young people with a disability or illness by supporting their families to raise the money they need to pay for specialist care that is not available through the UK healthcare system.
The book with a foreword by Pembury born Michel Roux, will feature recipes from, and the stories behind, several Food and Drink Network Club members including Sankey's, The Small Holding, Framptons, Sulston's Kitchen and The Lemon Grove as well as those from many other of the area’s best loved kitchens.
You can pre-order the book via the Tree of Hope website or via the contributors.
Don’t forget to join the Food and Drink Networking Club Facebook page and feel free to mention it to your own extended foodie network.
If you have a venue and would like to host a Food and Drink Netwoking Club event then please contact us: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.