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Superwomen – Local Business Superstars

From cookery schools and delis, restaurants and retail businesses, there are some bright stars in Cambs and Suffolk, many of whom are women. And now lockdown is easing, we want to celebrate them!

All across Cambs and Suffolk, there are businesses that have had to change, innovate and stay strong through the last year. As we come out the other side, we want to celebrate some of the fab females behind these businesses. In the first of our superwomen series, we find out about two of our Little Black Book members and their inspiring journeys.

Tine Roche, Cambridge Cookery School

Tine Roche, Founder Cambridge Cookery School & Café (credit Iliffe Media)

In 2006 I was working in the food industry helping brands to identify trends and I had the opportunity to go to San Francisco. There were these incredible markets springing up, with sourdough bread making, cooking demos – it was wonderful to see food being used as entertainment, a way of bringing people together – families, friends, companies. I loved every minute of it.  When I came back to the UK, I knew I wanted to create something like this.

I had always cooked and worked in some way with food, but to consolidate my knowledge I studied a Leith’s School of Food and Wine then in 2008 I set up the Cambridge Cookery School, initially from my home.  It has grown over the last 12 years and we now have a fabulous, fully equipped site in the south of Cambridge, with a café/ restaurant and a cookery school. Over the last few months, it has been tough, but we have chosen to stay open as a deli and café – really for the community and it has been wonderful to hear people say that it feels like a safe place to come in what has become an uncertain world.   

I have always loved to host, and working with people is the part I still love about running this business. We run courses for teens and uni students to ready them for the world, team workshops for businesses, and tailored parties for families and friends. Our popular courses that we run regularly are all about resourceful cooking, bread or pasta making, or showcasing different cuisines from around the world. Teaching people real skills that they will use and use is a joy. The fact that we’re both educating about food and entertaining gives me real pleasure. 

Cambridge itself has seen a real food revolution over the last ten years, and I am happy to have been a part of that. I love trying new places that are innovative and Restaurant 22 is one of those. The team are young and talented and producing stunning food, the flavours are pure genius. I also love a cocktail at Mill Road Bar 196. Burwash Manor has always been a favourite place of mine for shopping and coffee– a great well-stocked farm shop where you can trust the provenance and quality of what you’re buying. Cambridge is full of curious and engaged people, and it is a pleasure to host many of them at the school and café.

Jo Colman-Bown, The Suffolk Hamper Company

Jo Colman-Bown, Co-founder Suffulk Hamper Company

I wanted to be a professional ice skater or dancer, but due to injuries, I had to find something else and after university, I went to work on cruise ships– travelling without the backpack appealed to me. When I finally came home eight years later I took a junior ticket clerk job shore side working my way up to being general manager. After thirty years in travel, last year the pandemic led to my being made redundant. When my friends Kerry and Carla mentioned an idea of hampers, I had registered and incorporated – The Suffolk Hamper Company – within two days,with the idea to create locally-sourced, personalised hampers.

The Suffolk Hamper Company foodie

We do bespoke food and drink hampers, pamper hampers, hampers for mums to be, for dads, babies, teens, dogs, horses, corporates – and everything in between. This role is completely different to my past career, although I have applied my business and marketing expertise to growing the company and we’re getting orders from all over the world. We have loved sourcing and testing all the products, and we now have over 600 products in our warehouse that we can use to create something really special. 70% of these are local, and we also have a strong focus on eco-friendly sustainable ranges. I love talking to customers and putting together something really special and tailored for the recipient. We have never had a negative review – everyone is so positive.  

It’s great to support other local businesses in the area with what we do. I love Suffolk Gold tea and we include it in our hampers, along with the wonderful wine from Lavenham Brook. The Marimba chocolate we use from Bury St Edmunds is very moorish as are The Garden Pantry (Norfolk) jams and chutneys.  

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