Guest post from Stevan Taylor of Cheshire-based gluten and wheat free bakery The Foodamentalists
It’s that time of year again when I freeze my bits off on market stalls across the North West to a soundtrack of Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’. Yep, the Christmas markets circuit.
Although that may sound like a moan, I’m genuinely happy on my Foodamentalists market stall, provided I’ve got my winter gear on and the occasional hot cup of coffee comes my way. Selling online is all very well and selling my products wholesale is great too, but there’s something very special about selling on market stalls and meeting my customers face to face.
Often at a market I’ll meet up with someone I’ve been chatting to on social media and make that human connection. It’s great to put a voice and a body to a Twitter avatar. And I love seeing the look on a coeliac’s face when they taste their first pork pie in years – it’s priceless!
I especially enjoy the Christmas markets; there’s a great atmosphere despite the freezing temperatures and cheesey festive tunes. This year I’ll be at Knutsford Christmas markets on Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December, and then I’m doing the Spinningfields Christmas market in central Manchester on Friday 13, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 December. Best get my thermals ready!
At these markets I’ll be selling my Christmas range: a mince pie with a frangipane topping, a pork, venison and cranberry pie, and our cranberry and herb stuffing mix – all of which are free from gluten, wheat, dairy and soya.
Alongside them will be my regular products: our complete range of gluten and wheat free baking mixes – including our doughnut mix and our tortilla mix – as well as our savoury pies. Our latest addition to our pie range is a chicken, chorizo and cannellini bean pie which has been going down a storm among my coeliac and gluten-avoiding clientele. Our pork pies are always popular – rarely do I take any back home with me – and our homity and fidget pies offer something that bit different from other free from pie makers.
And, if I have the time, I’ll usually bake a batch of something that I know will appeal to the younger end of our customer base. Our reindeer biscuits did indeed fly off the stall at a recent market in Macclesfield!
I’ve been baking gluten free for around three years now. The Foodamentalists gluten and wheat free bakery was born when customers who bought the organic ready meals I was making at the time challenged me to create more gluten free products.
And I’ve got a healthy batch of awards to my name too: I’ve picked up a Great Taste Gold Award for my bread mix, a Free From Food Award for my mince pies plus a whole list of ‘highly commendeds’, and in October The Foodamentalists was named Best Free From Innovative Brand of the Year in the Foods You Can People’s Choice Awards!
The past year has seen me start to supply my luxury pies to the food hall in Selfridges’ flagship London store on Oxford Street. And, through a contract with an international health foods distributor, my baking mixes are now available in Hong Kong and Iceland.
But I won’t let the success of 2013 go to my head! I’ll continue to be a regular on the market circuit, catching up with my customers, many of whom have become friends now. Post-Christmas you’ll find me on the Knutsford Artisan Market on the first Sunday of every month and the Macclesfield Treacle Market on the last Sunday of the month.
I hope to see you there!
Managing Director of The Foodamentalists
From all of us at Food Blogs, we can assure you this bakery is a place we plan to visit in the near future. Who’s with us?