When we founded the Food and Drink Networking Club last year, we didn’t expect to have so many attendees at only our third event, which took place in early January. It’s a quiet month in the hospitality sector and we were thrilled that sixty or so guests, from food & drink experts, producers, bloggers, photographers and proprietors as well as the founders from Thomson Snell & Passmore, the Old Fire Station Tonbridge, Sankey’s and my blog, Eat Around Tonbridge joined us to network in one of the oldest buildings in Tonbridge, The Bakehouse at 124. We were fortunate enough to have a wide variety of speakers which made for a really interesting evening!
On a rainy January evening, guests’ spirits were lifted when they were welcomed with not one, but two glasses of English sparkling wine! This was all thanks to Peter Franz of Paddock Wood’s Sensible Wine Services who talked us through the tasting notes and the current appetite for English wines. Sensible Wine Services are behind many wine competitions, some of which we may know thanks to the rosettes and the like which adorn wine bottles in supermarkets – they really know their stuff!
We moved onto trying an Engligh rosé and an English red whilst Clare Barton and the team at The Bakehouse at 124 served their freshly made focaccia and sourdough based pizzas, topped with the likes of pear and Kentish blue cheese, pork and fennel sausage and caramelised onions and mushrooms – delicious! Clare shared with us The Bakehouse’s ‘story so far’ and how proud she feels to have restored the historic building to its former glory.
Club co-founder Matthew Sankey shared the recent success of his new fishmongers on Tonbridge High Street. This was quite a departure for the family business which has several restaurants and a fishmonger in Tunbridge Wells but the new shop in neighbouring Tonbridge is very busy which is great to hear.
Sue Nelson is a busy woman but thankfully she fitted us into her schedule - she not only founded Breakthrough Funding which helps entrepreneurs harness research and development tax efficiencies, but also The Food Talk Show radio show and podcasts. She is passionate about innovation, and ‘food tech’ in particular, encouraging attendees creating trail-blazing products or trying inventive techniques to tell their stories on the show. They also have some upcoming awards so for some national publicity, why not take a look?
The Food and Drink Networking Club is really gathering momentum & we had several new attendees this time which was great to see, some of whom are just starting their way in the hospitality sector – we’re looking forward to following their journey! The club is also helping people make valuable connections: thanks to the club, Hayward’s Farm Shop is now selling sourdough bread baked by Clare Barton of The Bakehouse & lemon & lime marmalade produced by Bruce McMichael of The Lemon Grove; Hannah Blake of Dining Room PR is collaborating with Reuthe’s to promote their new café.
The evening ended with The Bakehouse chocolate brownies, handshakes, business card swapping and interest in the next event. This is being scheduled for May so if you’re involved in the food and drink industry and would like to be invited, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to meeting you!
The Bakehouse is hosting a pizza night on Saturday 27th January – to book call 01732 360 382.
Caroline Kings, Eat Around Tonbridge
The founding members of The Food & Drink Networking Club are:
Alisa Sweeney of Thomson Snell & Passmore - one of the leading full-service law firms in the South East. The firm has been advising clients in the food and beverage industry for over 400 years ranging from growers and producers, to retailers, wholesalers and restaurants. Established in 1570, the Guinness Book of Records recognised Thomson Snell & Passmore us as the ‘Oldest law firm in Operation’ and have been providing peace of mind for generations of families and businesses.
Caroline Kings, writer and food blogger, Eat Around Tonbridge – a blog all about encouraging people to support local independent food and drink businesses on and around Tonbridge High Street.
Sam Goode and Richard Collins of the Old Fire Station (TOFS), Tonbridge – a community orientated venue near Tonbridge castle, famous for its pop-up events which have brought award winning chefs to the area.
Matthew Sankey, Sankey’s restaurants and fishmongers, Tunbridge Wells – Sankey’s restaurants and fishmongers are well-known throughout the local area for providing top quality fish and sea food to diners from Tunbridge Wells and beyond.