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Local artisans impress judges at county show

West Berkshire exhibitors carry home clutch of medals

John Garvey

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John Garvey

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Local artisans impress judges at county show

FROM artisan oils to grain for brewing and distilling, West Berkshire is rich in fine local produce.

But don’t take our word for it – the judges at the Royal County of Berkshire were clearly impressed by local ventures, too.

The Kennet House Cake Company, whose kitchen is in Kintbury, won the KSM Plate for best Local Exhibitor in the Food Hall.

Proprietor Anna Adams said: “We use local produce wherever possible, such as organic flour from Doves Farm Foods (in Hungerford) and Sutton Estates free range, organic eggs.

“Cake making and baking got a huge boost recently from the Bake Off television series, so our courses are particularly popular at the moment.”

The online company has already received five Great Taste Awards from the Guild of Fine Food.

Meanwhile, Peter Congerton and his team at the Cook and Butcher in Thatcham Broadway are celebrating after scooping second in three categories: best local exhibitor, best exhibit and most attractive stand.

Throughout the weekend, he and his colleagues were run off their feet as customers queued to watch a traditional butcher at work, to grab a bargain and get some great advice on cooking, whatever cut they chose.

The Cook and Butcher is also famed for its imaginative range of home-made saugages, including peanut butter and jelly flavour, orange marmalade flavour and Marmite flavoured.

Mr Congerton put his success and that of the business down to “hard work and not cutting corners”.

Cook and Butcher has its pork and beef supplied by the Bovingdon family from Broad View Farm in Cold Ash. Mr Congerton added: “Our motto is ‘tradition the modern way’ and we wanted to keep all the best bits of butchery while getting rid of bad habits like using packet seasoning for sausages.”

Another local venture which caught the eye – and tastebuds – of the judges was the Shalbourne-based Wiltshire Liqueur Company, whose damson vodka, sloe gin and blood orange liqueur were flying off the shelf.

Tiffiney Pride, who started the company in 1994, said she was delighted to receive third prize in the best local stall category.

Elsewhere, Newbury-based business Ardour Living topped an exciting month by scooping a prize for its trade stand at its first ever Royal County of Berkshire Show.

It was a roaring success for Rob Russell’s Ardour after being judged as the show’s second best trade exhibit on Saturday. 

Ardour only launched three weeks ago, bringing its contemporary log holders to market.

The holders are designed by Mr Russell and manufactured in North Hampshire.

Mr Russell said: “I’m really pleased. It’s great to be recognised for the effort that has been put in and the feedback has been really good, from lots of people.

“I’ve had lots of people helping me to get to this point. The generosity of friends has been amazing.” 

Mr Russell said that judges had commented that his stand looked amazing and had been really busy each time they passed, adding that they liked what he was doing.  

Indeed, many potential customers were torn between which of his designs to take home, while the Newbury Weekly News was interviewing Mr Russell.

“We had a great weekend, sold a lot of log holders, took commissions, but, even more importantly, chatted to lots of people about our products and got some really useful feedback – good and bad!

“Now I want to bring more of my ideas to market, grow the business here in Berkshire and employ more people.”

The business is a bit of a change from Mr Russell’s previous scientific engineering roles, but he said he wanted to give up work and pursue his dream.

“The number of times you have ideas and don’t do anything with them. I thought this time I would act on it.

“I realised unless I focused full-time it wasn’t going to happen.”

Mr Russell will next be exhibiting at the Ideal Home Show at Christmas. 

For more information, visit https://ardourliving.com/ 

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