A COOKERY school has been announced as the winner of the Thame Food Festival bursary.

The food festival, which will be held at the Thame Show Ground on September 24 and 25, decided to award the £1,000 bursary to Hartley’s Cookery School, in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire.

The bursary was established a few years ago to celebrate and promote any newly formed artisan food business within a 30-mile radius of Thame and to be eligible the businesses need to have been going for a year or less.

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After much consideration, the final two applicants met with the judging board to discuss their business, their future vision and explore how they would potentially look to utilise the opportunity.

Herald Series: Simon HartleySimon Hartley

Simon Hartley, chef and owner of the school, said: "I am delighted to be receiving this bursary and the support of the team at Thame Food Festival.

“Since opening our doors at Bradmoor Farm in January it’s been amazing to welcome and cook with our first guests at the school.

“We want to be a community-led business and have so enjoyed building relationships with other food producers and suppliers.

“Our vision for the school is to share my knowledge and passion for food in a relaxed environment, offering fun-filled courses for all abilities.

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Herald Series: Simon and Claire from Hartley's Cookery School Simon and Claire from Hartley's Cookery School

“Whether you’ve never picked up a knife or are a seasoned foodie, there’s something for everyone."

The win also includes a free pitch at this year’s Thame Food Festival, content in the festival programme, the opportunity to have an interview in the Food Glorious Food marquee and help with PR and social media.

Previous winners have included Ozi Lala, who has gone on to win Great Taste awards for his unique food products, and the original winner was Lisa Hartwright of Tess’ Brilliant Bakes.

Patron and event co-ordinator, Lotte Duncan said: “We are delighted to be in a position to offer a bursary again – thanks to Pinkster Gin.

“As a Community Interest Company, supporting young businesses that have the same ethics as the festival is an important part of what we try to do.

Herald Series: Hartley's Cooking school training areaHartley's Cooking school training area

“It was such a pleasure to meet Simon and his partner and hear what they are trying to achieve by giving people friendly, fun cookery courses while learning about the provenance of their food.”

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When asked about what he is planning to spend the bursary on, Mr Harley added: “As we have only been trading for just over five months, we are looking to use the bursary to invest in upgrading our website, signage and professional photography.

“Plus, use the support of the judges to broaden awareness of us and explore how we can potentially look at supporting initiatives in the community too.”


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland, she joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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