Posted 18th Nov 2014
With 40 years of making delicious jams, chutneys, fudge and sauces under their belts, Cottage Delight has got the recipe for success just right, and we discovered just out how from founder Nigel Cope
Established in 1974 as a family business with a passion for fine food by founder and chairman Nigel Cope, Cottage Delight began in the humble surroundings of Nigel’s own kitchen, where he created a wonderful range of traditional homemade fudge which he sold at local farmers markets. 'As a child my parents often took me to nice cafés and country pubs so from a young age I learned to appreciate good quality home-cooked food with delicious flavours,' Nigel explains. 'My passion for fine food and innovative flavours evolved from a simple love of fudge, jam and chutney-making, and I spent a great deal of time in the early days reading recipe books and researching small batch methods to create high quality, traditional homemade products for all the family to enjoy.'
Nigel soon realised that there was a demand for great tasting, homemade food and extended the range with the addition of delicious jams, marmalades and chutneys – all made using the traditional open pan method in small batches with a signature mop top applied by hand to each jar.
Today Cottage Delight is still creating traditional British preserves, chutneys, sauces and fudges using the very same methods at the company’s HQ in Leek, Staffordshire. This dedication to keeping tradition alive is evident by the cheerful staff who still create delicious recipes in small batches and apply the quaint mop tops, stickers and package goods by their own fair hand. This passion for producing fine foods combined with the company’s strong heritage ensures that 40 years later, Cottage Delight offers over 700 products to farm shops, delicatessens, tourist attractions, gift shops and garden centres across the UK and in 40 countries worldwide. We spoke with Nigel to get a behind the scenes look:
Have you used family recipes for any of the products?
Not really, the majority of our recipes have been created by myself together with many of Cottage Delight's product team and food technicians who are incredibly talented at coming up with new flavour combinations. The team is constantly coming up with ways to use the products creatively by home baking and cooking recipes that we then promote to customers.
How do you get involved with the business now?
My role at Cottage Delight has changed over the years, and these days I prefer to be sat at the table doing the tasting than slaving over a hot jam pan! One thing has remained the same though and that is my love for gourmet food, seeking out new flavours and bringing these into our products and onto the shelves of independent traders across the country.
I still love to travel and I make at least four trips a year overseas to seek out new artisan suppliers and keep on top of new trends. Greece, Germany and France are famous for fantastic quality food and these countries are a delight to visit as I always return home feeling inspired – and fuller figured!
What's your favourite Cottage Delight product?
I can’t just pick one!
1) Horseradish sauce with cream – a firm favourite of mine as it goes so beautifully with roast beef on a Sunday or on mackerel.
2) Cottage Delight strawberry extra jam – a classic English favourite, delicious with crumpets for breakfast or as a filling for the best Victoria Sandwich. Naughtier still, enjoy with scones and a dollop of Cottage Delight clotted cream for a wonderful homemade cream tea.
3) Chocolate truffles – our decadent truffles dusted in cocoa are a wonderful festive treat. I love the orange flavour ones best!
What's next on the cards for Cottage Delight?
I’m currently very busy preparing for the launch of the Cottage Kitchen, a brand new country café on the outskirts of Leek, Staffordshire. The menu is inspired by all that the Staffordshire moorlands has to offer and has been developed side by side with the suppliers and producers who share our passion for locally-sourced, seasonal artisan foods. It really has been a labour of love and I’m very excited about the launch on 2nd December.
For more information and to sample some of Cottage Delight's fantastic products visit www.cottagedelight.co.uk