Food school founder stars in top TV show

When Alison Swan Parente set up her food school, it was because she could not find artisan bakers for her own bakery.

Friday, 27th April 2018, 14:39 pm
Updated Friday, 27th April 2018, 14:41 pm
Alison Swan Parente at the School of Artisan Food

That was almost ten years ago, and its fair to say the situation has transformed since 2009.

“It took me forever to find one baker, so we thought why not teach people to bake as well?”, said Alison.

“Now there are brilliant little artisan bakeries with really good bakers all over the country.”

Many Sheffield bakeries - think Forge Bakehouse on Abbeydale Road- and food businesses have been founded thanks to the in depth courses at the School of Artisan Food, Welbeck, near Worksop.

Now Alison has reached yet another audience at the age of 69, by being a judge on the new Top of the Shop with Tom Kerridge TV series and competition. In the show she and Nisha Katona meet amateur food makers from across the country as they sell their wares in a real shop in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, and judge whether they have what it takes to take their business from kitchen table into the top of the industry.

Alison added: “It was really interesting to see what people are doing in their own homes.

“What did surprise me is how many people hadn’t been to any classes!

“They were reinventing the wheel a bit.

“I was very interested in the cheese I have to say because it is quite a difficult thing to do at home.”

Alison says being chosen for the show came ‘out of the blue’ but fits well with the school’s aim of helping people to rediscover real rather than convenience food in the artisan boom.

She added:”People have realised there is a price to pay for that quickness and cheapness - and the first price they pay is in the taste.

“People want to get back to good food, they like to use their hands, and another big reason is health.”

Top of the Shop is on BBC2 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.