Champions Round Table
Food and Drink Sector
Chesterfield’s Food and Drink Awards return for the fifth year running later this month. Now a key date in the town’s diary, the growth of the awards has mirrored that of the sector. With new restaurants, cafes, bars and restaurants opening regularly, visitors to the town now have more choice than ever. And nationally, Chesterfield is making a name for itself with some top drink brands hailing from the area – namely VK and Northern Tea Merchants.
Thanks to celebrity chefs and hit TV programmes like the Great British Bake Off, food and drink has never been such a hot topic. Most recently, it has been revealed that planning permission has been submitted to transform land on Whittington Moor, where the former fire station stood, into a central barn called The Glass Yard which will include The Batch House which will house artisan food producers, restaurants, bars and retail units, which would be “inspired by the markets you find in central Europe”.
And with major developments like Peak Resort, Chesterfield Waterside and the redevelopment of the Co-op on Elder Way set to bring more restaurants and venues to the area it seems that Chesterfield, once again, is punching above its weight.
This month’s round table, organised by Destination Chesterfield and the Derbyshire Times brought together key figures from the food and drink sector to discuss how the sector is evolving and what more can be done to support further growth.
Meeting at Stephenson’s Tea and Coffee House, which is shortlisted in the Cafe and Tea Room of the Year category, the round table also boasted representatives from businesses also shortlisted in this year’s Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards
MK – Martin Key, Health and Wellbeing Officer, Chesterfield Borough Council
TL – Teresa Lambarelli, Owner, Teresa Lambarelli’s
CA – Chiara Albrizio, Business Development Manager, Nonnas Chesterfield
JP – James Pogson, Director, Northern Tea Merchants
CW – Claire Wood, Owner, Stephenson’s Tea and Coffee House
IB – Ian Bates, Sector Forum and Representation Manager, East Midlands Chamber
IG – Ian Godfrey, Director, Solved it! Business Solutions
Chesterfield has an array of well-established food producers that are making waves locally and nationally, Northern Tea Merchants, Granny Mary’s and Teresa Lambarelli to name but a few, how can we better support businesses in this area to achieve local and national success?
MK – One thing the council can offer is health and safety and food hygiene training, and we’ve been offering it for years. The people that usually train with us are the people who are working in kitchens as an extra pair of hands, or those that need refresher courses. If there was a demand for base level training for that sort of thing, then that could be something we could offer.
TL – That’s great, but currently there is no dedicated support for the sector in Chesterfield. Nottingham has the Food and Drink Forum and Sheffield has the Growth Hub.
JP – However, we still benefit from the support in Nottingham and Sheffield because people are referred to us from them.
TL – I’ve recently been working with Sheffield Growth Hub.
IB – The Food and Drink Forum covers D2N2 which overlaps with Sheffield City Region which does cover Chesterfield. There is support out there but it’s just knowing where to go. It’s difficult for people because they have to run their businesses at the same time, and don’t always know where to turn to.
JP – It is definitely about making businesses aware of the support that is available to advise at various stages of your business, from growing and expanding, being a start-up, to buying a unit and then hiring your first member of staff.
TL – The Leicester Food Park would be a great concept for Chesterfield. If we could have a facility where you could hire a kitchen or a workshop, that would be great for those who can’t quite afford a unit.
MK – My previous authority had the same challenge. There was a lot of food producers that couldn’t quite afford a unit but was unable to grow their business without one. The council produced a food hub so that people could go in and use the units to operate in. The thing is, most of the businesses didn’t want to move out and move forwards because it was such a good price for the units.
How have the annual Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards helped elevate the hospitality sector locally with businesses, residents and young people?
CW – I think that the awards have elevated the sector massively. People are seeing things on social media, in the paper and on websites, and I don’t just mean people in Chesterfield. We’ve got a couple of customers who now come in once a month from Barnsley to eat here. They found out about us through the Chesterfield Food and Drink Awards publicity.
CA – It’s good to have these local awards so that smaller local businesses can celebrate success, and so that we can put across the personality of Chesterfield’s local businesses.
CW – The awards are also a great showcase for Chesterfield College’s students. The College is my first port of call whenever I am looking to recruit. The link between us as a business and the college is a very strong one.
CA – Something that I’ve noticed is that a lot of people don’t really have a relationship with food anymore. They think cooking good food takes up so much time but it really doesn’t. The positive thing is that people still congregate in food places.
IB – A lot of young people I know are very interested in food I just don’t think we’re selling it to them in the right way.
TL – Look at Quoozies in the town centre, they attract young people and they don’t sell fast food.
CA – It wold be great to get schools involved with the Food and Drink Awards, so young people are introduced to the scene younger.
How has Chesterfield’s food and drink sector changed over the last 10 years and what further developments could improve this?
CW – One thing that I’ve noticed is that there has been lots of positive media coverage for Chesterfield, like being in the top ten up and coming places and things like that.
MK – I’m not local, but when I bring my family here, they are surprised at what there actually is here.
CA – I think it will take time to change the perception of the night-time market.
JP – The boom time for the pubs and clubs was around the 80s and 90s, and a lot of that market is now interested in going out for food and drinks. The motive has changed.
MK – One thing we are looking to change currently is the street drinking situation, and we are in the process of sorting that out.
TL – Yes, that’s really important for people who are looking to go. We’re trying to climb the ladder as a town and all of this negative stuff just brings it back down, unfortunately.
JP – Looking at the new developments such as the old Co-op and Peak Resort, I think it’s important to include chain restaurants in the town’s plan. Having them in the town is important if we want to keep families visiting the town and staying here.
CW – Yes, the independents have to embrace that, because it will bring more people into Chesterfield. As long as we continue to have high standards, it can only be positive for us.
JP – The thing is, on town centre maps, all of the food producers are not on there. We’re certainly not because Chatsworth Road doesn’t reach that.
CW – The tourist information centre at Chesterfield is great, they really are helpful and can direct people to the right place incredibly well.
There are more than 50 schemes delivering support to Food and Drink businesses in Derbyshire, including:
- The Food and Drink Forum, through its FEAST programme, offers grant support for projects of between £2.5k – £80k. It also offers further support through business mentoring, industry events, technical support and technical apprentices.
- The LEADER programme provides funding to rural businesses including support for increasing farm productivity, micro/small enterprises, farm diversification, rural tourism and services.
- Food and drink businesses that process agricultural and horticultural products can apply for grant funding through EAFRD to help pay for buildings, new equipment and machinery.
- There is also the Enabling Innovation initiative which is delivered through local universities and provides advice, support and funding to innovative companies.
- Further funding is available from NBV Grant for Enterprise which offers grants of between £1k and £2.5k for businesses buying capital equipment or consultancy services.
- The Sheffield City Regions Skills Bank helps businesses to access funded training for their staff to help the business grow.
All of the schemes have eligibility criteria attached and the quickest way to find out what support is available is to contact the D2N2 Growth Hub. Its team of expert business advisers offer free and impartial support including business reviews, the identification of what funding and support programmes you can access, invitations to business growth workshops and events, and on-going support to help your business grow.
Tel: 0333 006 9178