COOK & BAKER | MEET THE MAKERS: Tea Lab, Katie and Anna
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Our meet the maker series continues with Katie and Anna, the founders of Tea Lab. We’ve had their delicious teas at a few of our past events, and our guests have fallen in love with them.

Tea Lab is a blend of all the things we love: great flavours, great design, and good feelings (and, of course, a female duo running a business!). Katie and Anna wanted to create a tea company where the focus was not only on taste but also on the bodily benefits, creating nutrient-rich, healthy tea blends with great taste experiences. Their teas also double as delicious botanicals for recipes!

We sat down with them to chat all things Tea Lab, how they started, and, of course, whether they’re cooks or bakers…

How did the idea for Tea Lab Company first come about? What gave you the kick start you needed to launch?

We started the branding for Tea Lab as a final degree show project at Loughborough University & mocked up a store interior – the feedback was amazing and people were trying to order from our demo website. This gave us the kick start for our Tea Lab journey!

As a fellow girl power duo, we’d love to know what you love most about working together. Do you have separate roles or do you both chip in across the business?

We do both, we work separately and together. We have our own skill sets but an intuitive connection when it comes to a design vision. Also the twin honesty comes in handy! 

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Tell us about your experiences so far - what has been your biggest challenge, and what has been your biggest achievement?

We feel our biggest challenge has been starting Tea Lab with such a small team, but we’ve learnt the art of multi-tasking! Our biggest achievement has been the feedback about the brand concept and our customers really enjoying the Tea Lab loose leaf experience.

What’s next? Where do you see yourself and your work in 5 years?

We’re a British brand and our love of travel will surely take Tea Lab abroad in the coming years.

What advice would you give to your 16 year old selves? Would you have known you’d be doing what you do today?

To be confident in your ability to pursue the things you love in life, and also not to quit or doubt yourself when it gets tough. We had no idea we would be co-founding a business together, but what a fun journey it is. 

Now for the controversial one… are you a Cook or a Baker? What are your favourite things to Cook & Bake?

We are both bakers! We spent our early years in America and that’s where our love of baking started. Anna’s would be – key lime pie, and mine would be peanut butter brownies! 

Find out more about what Anna & Katie do over at www.tealab.co.uk, or follow them on Instagram @tealabcompany.

Cook + Baker
COOK & BAKER | MEET THE MAKERS: Ellie Loveday Edkins
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We started Cook & Baker to celebrate amazing food with excellent people, so we thought it was only right to do a Meet the Maker series. We'll be chatting to some of the many talented individuals and brands we have worked with about how they started out, their challenges and success, and how they’ve grown as small businesses. Oh…and whether they like to Cook or Bake! Today, we're chatting to photographer Ellie Loveday Edkins, who has shot many of our supper clubs over the last year.

How did you first get into photography? Was it always something you saw yourself doing? 

I first realised I enjoyed photography when I was about 13. I always used to steal my mum's camera to take photographs of my friends or set up random product photoshoots on my windowsill. I remember when one of my good friends got a Nikon for Christmas - we were both pretty fascinated by it! This is also around the same time she introduced me to the photo editing suite Picasa, and we spent hours on there editing our images. I then continued to get into photography as a hobby and later studied it as a diploma for 2 years at college (where I finally learnt how to use photoshop… bye-bye Picasa).

My plan was to go on to uni and do a degree in photography but this changed as I discovered I wanted to explore other creative subjects and didn’t know if uni was right for me. I always used to photograph shop windows when I visited London and realised I liked the styling side of shoots so I went on to study a diploma in Visual Merchandising & Retail Branding and have pursued a career in that for the past 4 years. I was constantly taking photos of everything and really missed using a proper camera so last year I decided it was time to get back into it, so I bought myself a camera, started shooting again and was fortunate enough to get some great work. I now do it on the side as much as possible of my full time Visual Merchandising job.

What do you love most about it? What is it that inspires you?

This is something that I am always trying to work out myself, why do I love it so much? I guess it's being able to stop time in a sense. I just think it’s insane that humans have been able to design something that can capture the essence of somebody, or something or an atmosphere in a split second and it’s there forever. It’s a beautiful thing. I am a visual person so for me how the look of things makes me feel is important and being able to control things like colour and layout like you can in a photograph is something I find really satisfying. 

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Tell us about your experiences so far - what has been your biggest challenge, and what has been your biggest achievement?

I mainly shoot event photography at the moment but have produced some work for restaurants. My biggest challenge has been developing and refining my style, which is something I am still working on. We live in a society where we are surrounded by so much material it is easy to get bogged down with wanting to produce work that isn’t naturally your style. But I am slowly realising that shooting in a way that comes naturally to you is what defines you as an artist and means your work is consistent and recognisable.

For me one of my biggest achievements is developing a great network of clients from nothing, for being recognised for doing something I enjoy and being able to work with some incredibly talented people. 

Last March I assisted styling on a shoot for an article on the chef and author Dan Barber for the Guardian Food Supplement and to say I wasn’t still stoked about having my name printed in the Guardian would be an understatement. It’s up there on my list of achievements, as well as assisting with styling the boat for the Meringue Girls second book launch where I was lucky enough to meet Cook and Baker Co-Founder Safia AKA Baker!

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What’s next? Where do you see yourself and your work in 5 years?

I’ve discovered from various experiences over the past year that you literally have no idea what is around the corner and when you least expect it everything changes and you end up going in a completely different direction to what you planned. So my new stance on life is to take it day by day, and if something comes your way and it seems like a good opportunity, even if you don’t feel 100% confident that you are up to the challenge you should take it anyway and learn along the way. 

I would love to be producing work for editorial and hope to have worked on a cookbook with someone! A goal of mine is to actually finish my website (I am so slow) I hope to complete that before the next 5 years is up though haha! Travelling is at the top of my list of things to do so it would be great to be able to travel for work. 

What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?

Making mistakes only teaches us how to do better next time, and all the lessons we learn from slipping up now and then contribute to helping us grow.

It's not advice but it's something I take from watching my dad. If you are passionate about something that equally makes you happy and brings you a sense of achievement then you should continue to do it until something out of your control stops you from doing it. 

Now for the controversial one… are you a Cook or a Baker? What are your favourite things to Cook & Bake?

I am a baker! That doesn’t necessarily mean I am any good at it but cooking just doesn’t come naturally to me. My favourite thing to make is Pavlova using a recipe my nan & mum use. I also liking making cakes, mostly the decorating part! Cooking wise I love making my completely made up sweet potato curry - I change it every time and use a lot of guess work but it’s my fave.

To see more of Ellie's work, check out her photography from some of our past events on the gallery page. Follow her on Instagram @ellielovedayedkins, and visit her website www.ellieedkins.com.

Want to be one of our makers? We're always looking to work with small, independent brands and businesses so drop us an email hello@wearecookandbaker.com.

Cook + Baker
Belazu Ingredient Co.: Butter Bean and Chermoula Dip Recipe
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There is nothing we love more than cooking with the highest quality ingredients. It can completely transform a menu and the experience of eating, which is why we carefully select our ingredient suppliers when planning our suppers. There is also nothing more important to us than working with businesses that share our principles. 

For our recent Ibiza-inspired feast, we used the best in the industry and one of our absolute favourites - Belazu Ingredient Co. Their top quality delicious ingredients complemented our Lebanese and Mediterranean-inspired menu perfectly. We even used their amazing Balsamic Vinegar in our dessert, creating mini balsamic and honey black fig pavlovas!  

One of our many sharing 'mezze' starters was this Butter Bean and Chermoula Dip, made using Belazu's finest coriander, cumin and lemon Chermoula Paste. Swirled through the puréed butter beans, it added a beautifully spiced and tangy finish to the dish. We've shared our recipe with you here - it's so incredibly easy to put together, and a perfect dinner party crowd pleaser. 

Ingredients

1 x 400g can butter beans
1 tbsp tahini
1 garlic clove
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp Belazu Early Harvest Olive Oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp Belazu Chermoula Paste
handful of crushed hazelnuts, to serve

Recipe

1. Place the butter beans, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and cumin in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse to form a chunky paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a little extra tahini or lemon juice if needed.  
2. Spread the dip onto a plate, and swirl the Belazu Chermoula Paste through with a spoon.
3. Top with crushed hazelnuts, an extra drizzle of Belazu Early Harvest Olive Oil, and enjoy with homemade flatbreads. 

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Photography by Ellie Loveday Edkins.

Cook + Baker
Meet Cook & Baker: Katie Brigstock and Safia Shakarchi

How did you both meet?

K & S: We met whilst we were living abroad! We both studied Spanish at university - Katie at The University of Edinburgh and Safia at King's College London, and we picked Madrid as our year abroad destination. It was then a mutual friend of ours that said we had to meet whilst we were out there because she thought we were both so similar, i.e. obsessed with food (Cathy, we owe you one!) We met early on in the year and spent the rest of the time cooking at each other's apartments, eating in every restaurant we could find and travelling to new foodie destinations.

What is your favourite city?

K & S: I think we will both have to say Madrid! It's the most warm, welcoming, lazy and relaxing city, filled with beautiful people who love to just spend their days eating and drinking in the sun. We had no idea it was such a foodie place before we went, but now looking back, there couldn't have been a more perfect city for us. Really, it's where this all began. Although we must say, we both have a very soft spot for Bali, which is actually probably our favourite place in the world - and Marrakech, which is full of the most vibrant, colourful and delicious food we've eaten to date.  

What is one fun fact about the other person?

S: Katie has the most incredible ability to fall asleep anytime, anywhere. It's amazing because she can survive on such little sleep, and then spend the entire day running around doing all sorts of things as though she isn't at all tired, but then sit her down for about 30 seconds and she will be out cold. Even if it's on a rock. I swear!! I have a collection of photos of her asleep from whenever we travel together... on trams, chairs, boats... they're now known as the The Katie Sleeping Diaries. 

K: Saf's decision-making conundrums in restaurants - I think sometimes the waiting staff are totally amused by her enthusiasm for everything on there - "ooooooh I'll have that, no wait, how did you make that? That sounds interesting, we'll have one of that too!" If you dine out with Saf, you'll never miss the best dish! She also has this insane ability to know where EVERY great cafe/coffee shop/restaurant is. I could be in the tiniest village in some remote part of Wales and Saf would know where in that area I'd find the best cup of coffee!

What are your favourite things to Cook and Bake?

K: Everyone jokes that most of my recipes start with half a packet of butter. To be honest, butter is the source of all great things in life and having trained on a rather classical course at Leiths, my love for butter is definitely up there. Having said that, some of my favourite things to cook and eat are Vietnamese and Thai food. I love the colours, the fresh taste of the dishes,  the simple yet delicious flavour combinations. You can't beat a great Vietnamese bun cha - smoky pork meatballs, salty and sweet dipping sauce, fresh crunchy vegetables and soft, pillowy rice noodles! Absolute heaven. 

S: I know this must sound so boring, but really, is there anything better than a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake?! I love baking all sorts of things, from tarts to pastries to puddings, but sometimes I just like keeping things simple and making a good old cake - one that I know my family will love. What I really love most though is Middle Eastern baking - the kinds of stuff that my grandmother taught me to make when I was little. The first thing I think I ever baked when I was about 4 years old were date & cardamom biscuits that we call Kleicha, and every time I make them now it takes me right back to her kitchen!

 

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