2011 (and before)
"Success is about being vitally engaged in something worthwhile, making a difference for the better, and having fun while you’re at it." Luke Johnson
I'm not a chef but I love delicious food and the way it brings people together. As a child I was really lucky to grow up in a family that always sat around a table together to eat, whether it was a quick breakfast before school or Sunday lunch with lots of people. I remember helping in the kitchen so I could learn how to cook, but I was always more interested in bringing everyone together than how the food tasted.
1996, a Victoria sponge for my dad's birthday
After leaving school I trained for 3 months at Ballymaloe Cookery School. The school is on an organic farm in Ireland and run by one of the leaders in the Slow Food movement Darina Allen. I spent the rest of the year working on farms and as a chef around Europe before starting at Bristol University. For whatever reason I never did well at University (I was very nearly kicked out after my second year) but what I got from the experience was time to start little projects. The most successful was a competition organised by Ernst & Young. They gave me £500 capital to start a business and make as much money as possible in an academic year for the Prince's Trust. I organised a national art competition and raised £25,000 for the charity.
After graduating I worked at The White Company for two years. It was an amazing experience; I started on the shop floor for a few months before moving into Head Office and spending time in a number of different departments. In October 2011 I must have been in a really bad mood as my brother Oli who hates walking, came on a walk around Hyde Park with me. We stopped for a simple autumn stew and chunk of bread at the Serpentine Cafe and that's where the idea for potage came.
2012, original potage logo & a supper club to test recipes
Whilst still working I spent any spare time over the next year writing a business plan, talking to people, testing recipes, collecting packaging samples, thinking about logistics and slowly creating a brand until it was finally time to get on my bicycle. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into but kept Luke Johnson's quote (above) in mind.
To start potage I had £1,000 savings, which I spent on a second hand copper soup kettle, trade marking the logo and the first few boxes of packaging and ingredients. My dad came up with the name 'potage' and my mum made the mistake of saying I could use her kitchen for 2 months (three years later people had to climb over cardboard boxes of packaging to get into the house).
POTAGE | eat well together