This month saw the second meeting of The Food & Drink Networking Club – and what a meeting it was! The event, sponsored and organised by Thomson Snell & Passmore, was kindly hosted by Will Edge at his beautiful distillery in Shipbourne, the home of the award-winning Greensand Ridge gin, with delicious, hot food provided by Ben Sulston of Sulston’s Kitchen and moreish macarons by Mary-Ann Pickering of The Crow Kitchen.
The sun was shining as guests arrived, some new, some who had attended the inaugural event in June, many marvelling at the stunning backdrop of the actual Greensand Ridge and the distillery itself which has its home in an old coach house. The attendees came from a variety of professions but all were connected to the food and drink industry – food & drink producers, proprietors, distillers, journalists, photographers, bloggers &, of course, solicitors!
Will makes gin at his distillery using local botanicals but he prides himself on being a sustainable drink producer, using ‘waste’ fruit to make his Raspberry Ghost eau de vie, plum brandy & apple brandy. As the sun was beginning to set in glorious technicolour behind his home and distillery, he explained to the club how important being sustainable is to him, "mitigating the negative effects of being a distiller." As well as using farmers’ waste produce, deemed unsuitable for sale by the supermarkets, Will boasts that he generates very little that can’t be recycled in his beverage production line – the plastic wrapping around the top of the bottle is the only part of the product that can’t be recycled.
Will introduced the group to Rob Wilson of Toast Ale, a beer made from waste bread. Rob shocked us with his stats - a third of food produced is wasted and a staggering 44% of bread that we bake becomes waste. Toast Ale uses a slice of bread in every bottle replacing a third of the malt barley that you would find in other beer ‘recipes’. He shared with us Toast’s wholesome objectives: to make awesome beer; to reduce the amount of bread that goes to waste; to educate others about and eradicate food waste; and that 100% of Toast’s profit go to a food waste charity. Admirable stuff. He encouraged us to "get wasted on waste" and to encourage our global contacts to do the same as the brand expands into the US, Brazil, South Africa and New Zealand.
Rob also appealed for Toast’s first local, independent stockist and although it may have been just a handshake, a deal was struck with Haywards Farm Shop. Toast can take its place at Haywards alongside Greensand Ridge gin and plenty of other local, artisan produce.
Connections continued to be made as darkness fell and a chill crept into the air, such was the bon homie spirit of the evening. We look forward to the next event scheduled for January 2018. If you’d like to be invited, please contact Susanna Rynehart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The founding members of The Food & Drink Networking Club are:
Susanna Rynehart and 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.
Article by Caroline Kings, writer & food blogger of Eat Around Tonbridge.