This is how to be successful in a career in artisan food

I’m often asked, “what does it take to make a successful career in artisan food?”

Thursday, 29th August 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th August 2019, 9:00 am
Julie Byrne, Managing Director at The School of Artisan Food on the Welbeck Estate.

And I’m usually reminded of Apple founder Steve Jobs' observation that 'your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.'

For many people, an interest in artisan food often seems to be sparked by a childhood memory, a visit to a delicious deli or by sampling food at a fabulous farmer’s market. They want to reconnect with food and create their own.

‘Artisan’ is a term used to describe food produced by non-industrialised methods. Tastes and processes, such as fermentation, are allowed to develop slowly and naturally, rather than curtailed for mass-production. Once in danger of being lost, we’ve seen a revival of heritage skills over the past decade.

At The School of Artisan Food, we teach the whole range of subjects from baking to butchery, cheesemaking, fermentation, dairy and much more through both our short and long course programme.

We’re proud to be launching the UK’s first foundation degree-level artisan food course this October alongside Nottingham Trent University, but to enjoy a successful career you need more than technical skills.

To persuade people to try that delicious loaf you’ve so lovingly kneaded and baked using the best ingredients you can find, students learn that business skills are just as important.

Whether you choose to work for another company or to set up your own, you’ll need a good understanding of your potential customers - who they are, what they want to buy, how much you can charge, and how to stand out in the market.

I’m delighted to say that many of our former students have taken these lessons on board and are making their love for food into a successful career. To give a local example, Sophie Williamson was working in IT security before she was gifted a one-day course at The School at Christmas 2016.

Two months later she resigned her job and now she’s a professional cheesemaker with her own thriving business at Sheffield Cheesemasters, selling hundreds of ‘Little Mester’ cheeses every week to shops and restaurants around the city and far beyond.

Indeed, the good folk of Sheffield are possibly spoilt for choice when it comes to great artisan food.

I thoroughly recommend a visit to both The Forge Bakehouse and Seven Hills Bakery to try their exceptional bread and pastries. You can taste the love and the dedication.

Written by Julie Byrne, the Managing Director at The School of Artisan Food.