Food Hygiene Rating, At Last

When I was preparing to start the business last year one of the main worries for me was the issue around food hygiene. I did my Level 2 food hygiene course and, as legally required, registered the business with Southwark 28 days before I started trading. I received a letter from them acknowledging this and that they would inspect my kitchen in the next month or so. I had done my part so it was now up to them to do theirs.

At the time I did notice that they had got the name of the business wrong (Cakes and Cookies) but I didn’t think any more about it as they had all the correct details so they knew where I was. Fast forward to three weeks ago and I still hadn’t had an inspection. On a completely different matter I emailed Southwark food department and they immediately phoned back! I asked the question I had about trading at markets and we got onto the subject of registering and inspections and he was surprised to hear that this had not happened as yet. I quickly told him about the name error and he changed it on his records. He asked when I would next be baking, I said the next day and he said he would come at 10am, cue panic!

Needless to say I spent the rest of that day cleaning the kitchen, it is already clean but it was a good opportunity to go through ingredients for expiry dates etc and to rearrange some of my equipment. My wonderful husband helped by hoovering for me and putting up with my paranoia! Next morning after the usual delivery to Bambuni I awaited my fate. He arrived on time and went through lots of questions, checked my record keeping, fridge, expiry dates etc and at the end said that as far as he was concerned all was in order and he would send out my food hygiene rating in the next week or so.

Although I knew that the kitchen was clean, that I follow all the right procedures and keep good records it was still a relief to hear the good news. And then yesterday’s post arrived and with it my rating, a big fat 5, the best!!

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What a great feeling it was seeing that 5, really gave me a boost to know that I was doing all the right things. I have checked www.food.gov.uk but I am not listed as yet so will keep an eye on that and post the link when it is live.

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Fairs and Festivals

As part of building business I have been doing some local craft fairs and festivals over the last couple of months with varying success. These are a great way of meeting people, customers and fellow traders, a way of gathering information on what is happening out in the real world. It’s not always what you want to hear but that is all part of it, I guess.

The first of these fairs was the Fair on the Green back in May and this was the first fair that I brought along some of my knitting and crochet as well as the cakes. It was held in the Salvation Army hall on Nunhead Green and was an eclectic mix of stalls – Fancy Betty, Rebecca Hunter Art, Maria Nilsson, Forever Living, SIXYBL (all with me upstairs) and more cakes, soap and pottery downstairs.

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Passionfruit Cake
Passionfruit Cake

It was a strange day, the weather wasn’t good (unseasonably cold and grey) which didn’t help so there wasn’t the footfall that was hoped for. I did ok in the end but had lots of leftovers which were happily consumed by work colleagues that week!

Next up was Brimmington Park Midsummer Festival on 20th June. This is a very small park between Queens Park Road and Old Kent Road in Peckham and at first I was a bit sceptical that this was going to work but had a really good day in the end. Again the weather was not our friend but the bad rain held off until the end of the festival!

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A week later I was in Norbory at The Notorious Norbory Fair and Market. This was held in a function room at the back of a pub and had lots of great local stalls selling handmade goods, art, bread etc and Fancy Betty was there too, nice to see a familiar face! Unfortunately, the day wasn’t as busy as hoped, this was the second event and the first had been very busy. Not sure what happened on that day but no one was buying cakes! Lots of lovely people and lots of compliments for the cakes that sold, especially the rosewater and pistachio cake.

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And the most recent one was last weekend, 4th July, at the Blythe Hill Fields Summer Festival, a local park that holds this annual festival of music, food and crafts. This one was a bit more complicated as I had to provide my own stall, table and gazebo. Luckily my friends Jo and Simon came to the rescue and rather than having to invest in a table and gazebo they had both that I could borrow.

With the help of my wonderful husband we set up the stall, making sure that there were weights holding down both table and gazebo. The park is on a hill, clue in the title, and it was windy. You can see what’s coming, right? So, we were all set up, selling some cakes and especially my rosewater and pistachio cake when a breeze blew over the cake stand and the rosewater cake was on the ground! Not the best moment!! But it was a good day in the end, selling out of a couple of things and most of the rest.

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Jammy Dodgers
Jammy Dodgers

And so after doing four very different festivals and fairs I am no wiser as to what makes a successful fair, the weather plays a big part, advertising too. But even if there are lots of people you can’t guarantee sales, so what is the missing x factor? I know the cakes are good (that’s not me blowing my own trumpet, people have told me) so is it how they are displayed? Am I selling in the right places? How do you get to the right places? Many questions to be answered in the coming days and weeks.

 

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