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Juliette beat the blues by cooking up a company
3:03pm Wednesday 5th September 2012 in Business
A FOOD company boss who beat depression through cooking has won a tasty £6,000 business package after impressing judges with her soups and chutneys.
Former MasterChef finalist Juliette Brown Forden, 47, turned her passion into a reality after finding cooking therapeutic when she suffered from depression – and is now hoping to get her products into national supermarket chain Waitrose.
Mrs Brown Forden, of Langton, near Malton, North Yorkshire, launched Hayloft Foods as a business after her sister and husband encouraged her to sell her seasonal soups, pasta sauces and chutneys at farmers’ markets.
Local shops soon began stocking the products and she has now been named the overall winner in the Country Business Awards, run by glossy magazine Country Homes & Interiors.
Mrs Brown Forden said: “I suffered from depression and I took to cooking as therapy. It got to the point where my family couldn’t eat all the food I was making, so they suggested I started selling it.
“You get people ringing up and telling you it is fantastic, which is a big boost.
“I never thought I’d win, but after I sent my samples down, I got a phone call a couple of days later saying I’d won. They told me the judges couldn’t stop eating it, which was great.”
The firm is now doing so well, Mrs Brown Forden has applied for a grant to convert an outhouse into a commercial kitchen because demand is outstripping capacity at her home.
A vegetarian, Mrs Brown Forden’s products are all meat-free and gluten-free, and are never thickened with cornflour.
Pasta sauces and soups in the range are sold at local shops and farmers’ markets in Malton, Hovingham and Driffield, while her chutneys are sold through her website.
With her £6,000 package of business mentoring, planning, sales and marketing advice, as well as logo and website design, Mrs Brown Forden is hoping to step her business up a gear.
“I can’t believe I have won. It is nice to get recognised for all the hard work. You just don’t think someone from Yorkshire would win a competition from a magazine based down in London.
“I would really like to get my brand into Waitrose. It would be amazing to see Hayloft Foods products in there.”