Gail Chapstick of LESS writes about a recent ‘women in the food industry’ event.

At the end of January I spotted an interesting article in the Lancaster Guardian about a ’Female Foodies go under the Spotlight’ event. This was the Women in the Food Industry’s First Northern Event. It was held at Lancaster University in collaboration with Marketing Lancashire, with the aim of showcasing Lancashire’s food and drink talent.

I decided to attend this event on behalf of LESS – a Lancaster based community organisation that facilitates a range of sustainable food initiatives.

The event featured a number of food and drink stalls; a lunch prepared with local food; talks from women operating businesses in Lancashire and south Cumbria, and a drinks reception.

The stalls, many of which included small food samples, included Filbert’s Bakery from Lancaster, which bakes all of its own bread and cakes. Other stallholders included The Bee Centre, Wignalls Yallo, the Not Poncy Food Company, Our Paula’s, Signs of Siam, Choc Amor. Old School Brewery and Bowland Brewery. From over the county border in Cumbria was Ginger Bakers.

A number of small organisations were making gin- a drink that has grown in popularity in recent years. I found an interesting new Blackpool Rock Gin that was inspired by the sea side. Another handcrafted gin called ‘Blushing Vixen’ was produced by the Wild Fox Distillery at Inglewhite, Lancaster. This business was just one year old, having launched in April 1919. Its gin was distilled with British farm grown rhubarb and elderflowers.

Stuart, the Head Chef at Lancaster University, rustled together an excellent locally inspired lunch. There was a choice of vegetarian casseroles, parsnip gnocchi or slow cooked lamb shoulder with local root veg.

Two Masterclasses were run in the afternoon – one by Stosie Madi of award winning rural inn, Parkers Arms in the Trough of Bowland. This Inn rated 7th in the Top 50 Gastro Pubs in the country, with it using seasonal local ingredients, either bought or foraged, in its dishes. (Its menus can be found on its website).

The second Masterclass was run by Rachel Trenchard, co-founder of Goosnargh Gin, a gin which has won an International award Goosnargh Gin and is produced at the base of Beacon Fell, on the edge of the Forest of Bowland.

There were a number of other interesting speakers talking about their businesses. For example, a former finalist of the Apprentice produces a nut milk in Blackburn in a variety of flavours.

Overall I came away inspired, with much food for thought.

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