Welsh Street Food Champions Start Award Winning Social Enterprise
I'm not very good at this kind of thing so here goes!
There is simply NOTHING better than gathering friends and family round a big table of food and drink. Whatever the weather, whichever the season.
If i close my eyes i am transported, i can smell the punchy aromas of herbs and fresh spices, i can hear the outbursts of laughter and i can see the wide-open smiles, still full of food 'n' all.
The power of food and community, this is both what we live for and live from. A beautiful synergy, one that i have missed deeply over the 4 months of lockdown.
I had been a passionate home cook for quite a few years before i moved back to Wales and took the jump.
Just a few months after meeting my now fiancé Rachel; i bought a caravan from a nice guy in a car park down the Gower, parked it on the road outside her house (which i was now pretty much living in) and after 122 nights of loving labour "The Pink Peppercorn" was born.
I was blown away with the all the amazing ingredients we have in Wales. Nestled in our stunning landscape there are farming families pioneering sustainable food production, growing fruit and vegetables the likes of which we have never seen in Wales before! Then we've got the truly amazing fresh seafood from our coastlines, the plentiful bounty of foraging and last but not least some of the highest welfare quality meat and dairy from our heartlands.
One year on and we were fortunate enough to share our "Modern Welsh" food with the judges Sam and Shauna at the Welsh Street Food Awards Finals, harnessing the power of Seasonal, Organic Welsh ingredients with modern international flavours.
It went down a storm, we were crowned champions and rushed down to London the next weekend to represent Wales at the British Street Food Award Finals. Where we entered our "Fishgaurd Cawl", a modern take on a historic 18th century recipe i'd discovered rummaging through old cookbooks in a charity shop.
This is the recipe i'll be cooking for you the Taste of Wales Virtual Festival on August 1st and will also be available to purchase on our online store soon too, amongst some other bright new dishes.
It was (in my eyes) a true seasonal celebration of Modern Welsh Produce - Welsh Chorizo from Abergavenny, Fresh Mussels landed in Burry Port, Sweetcorn from Mamgu's garden, Organic Cream from Lampeter, Samphires, Arrowgrass and Seabeet from the shores of Llansteffan and Heirloom Tomatoes from a Neighbour.
Not to mention the chunk of freshly wood-fired bread made with Heritage Grains that were grown in Pembrokeshire then Water-Stone-Milled in Cardigan, incredible!
We won Best Main Dish 2019 and came 3rd Overall Champion, we could not believe it, a dream come true, what a year.
Less than six months on and we started to see our business and others in our industry fall apart very quickly in slow motion. We saw and felt first-hand the struggle of mental health and the plight of nutritious food and job security.
Yet the empowerment of community, the resurgence of vegetable growing and the new inspirations of home-cooking.
This gives us hope - We CAN be the change.
Another four months later and we are at a cliff edge, staring into a cloudy sea waters getting ready to take the jump again and start a new business. But why would anyone set-up a business now that was NOT a Social Enterprise, Community Interest Company, given the challenge ahead of our communities.
We know there will be people in our communities who need sustainable jobs, training and food education.
We know that people are finding it hard to get access to fresh, nutritious and healthy food.
We know that we all want to support Welsh Fishing, Farming and Sustainable Agriculture.
We know that we need to rebuild our nation for a Healthier, Wealthier and Greener Wales.
Thats why Swper. Box CIC was born.
We'll source the freshest Welsh ingredients from land and sea across the counties, create new and exciting modern recipes that celebrate each season's produce, then deliver Swper. to your door in plastic-free, plant-based packaging.
Then you can enjoy the quick, simple and Swper tasty recipes and pick up new skills along the way - you even get the bonus of eating delicious food for you and yours with no waste!
All the while resting assured that your recipe box subscription will have a positive impact on our environment, communities and economy.
Creating Jobs to Combat Crisis, Educating our Future Adults, Boosting Nutrition and Immune Systems, Creating Circular Economies and Investing in Food Entrepreneurs.
Its been a long three months in the making so far, but we will get there, we have to.
Its all fairly simple, it all starts and ends with the food we eat.
Alex Cook - 13.07.2020
General Manager - Swper. Box CIC
Owner - Pink Peppercorn Food Co.