A couple of weeks ago I posted a message across Twitter asking if anyone knew any food businesses who had a story to tell. It didn't take too long before I had a few producers and restauranteurs make contact to ask about having their own story told.
One of those interested was one of this years BBC Good Food Show, Good Food Champion's Elizabeth Brown - the owner of Inverness bakery business Capability Brown's.
Elizabeth's bakery has been running for just over 2 years now and she has also opened a Wee Croft Shop as the bakery is run from her croft, where Elizabeth and her husband have their own hens eggs, fruit and veg, herbs etc. In addition to making her own jams, marmalades to go into her baking, Elizabeth also forages for things like wild fruits, fungi, nettles, elderflower, Hawthorne, and Gorse that can be used in her products. Elizabeth is passionate about local, seasonal, good quality ingredients, and also about finding old ingredients that have been used for thousands of years, such as Beremeal from Orkney which was used by the Vikings and is now only grown on Orkney and Shetland.
Here's Elizabeth's story;
How did you get started?I spent years working for big corporate organisations as an Organisational Development consultant, which was very stressful. In 2009 I moved back to the Highlands after being away for quite a few years and re-connected with food which I have always been passionate about but didn't have the time to indulge before. In 2010 I met my ‘now’ husband who encouraged me to start baking again and although I was working part time then, I was made redundant so decided to set up a bakery in my home. It has been really hard, I am moving into my third year and only really this year I feel like it might actually work. Its true what people say, it takes three years to establish a business. My passion from baking originally came from my Grandfather who lived with us when I was growing up, he was from the travelling community and a very traditional baker, lots of scones, bannocks made on a girdle on the fire, pancakes, peasemeal brose, that type of thing. I hadn't realised how much he had influenced me until I started to bake for a living and I have deliberately sought some of the ingredients he used years ago such as the Peasemeal which is now only milled in one mill in the world.
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
Believe in yourself, give yourself time, it wont happen overnight and build a good foundation, something that's solid enough to survive when things are a bit tight. Also don't beat yourself up or take things personally when things don't work out the way you want them to. I started with a rough plan in my head and just went with it, my husband actually has a very good saying, keep throwing mud at the wall and some of it will stick eventually. He also says ‘stick to the knitting Elizabeth’ when I get carried away and think I can do loads, he grounds me and keeps it real and manageable.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
Surviving, sustainable, well respected as a good quality local producer.
If you could only cook one of your own products/recipes, what would it be & why?
Would have to be 2 I'm afraid, bread (any kind as long as its good and Real, I am a member of The Real Bread Campaign and passionate about good bread) and bannocks on the girdle served with Orkney cheese and a nice beer.
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
I would have to invite four people, sorry I know that's cheating but it's my dinner party! It would be my Grandfather for not even knowing how much he inspired me, my husband for all the support he offers, and his parents because I never met them and they aren't around anymore, but I make his Fathers Plum Duff and have been invited to the BBC Good Food Show as a good food champion because of that recipe and his Mother was a keen baker and i have all her bowls, aprons, equipment which gets used in my kitchen every day. I would make Bere Bannocks, butter, cheese and then Plum Duff with home made custard.
Keep an eye out for the launch of the new Capability Brown's website which is due to launch in the coming weeks. Keep up to date with Capability Brown's on Facebook, plus keep up to date with the other side of Elizabeth's business at The Wee Croft Shop.
Professional images supplied courtesy of Alison White Photography.