Gail Brown, Thornleys Natural Foods
Thornleys is a family company producing a range of sauce and recipe mixes. Free from preservatives, additives, colours and MSG, the range uses only natural ingredients to created powdered sauces in handy foil packets. The range is also gluten free and wheat free – with three generations of coeliacs, the family understands the demands of satisfying a hunger for delicious, natural tasting food suitable for the gluten free diet. At the helm is Gail Brown, a coeliac herself, who started up the company in 2013.
- What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication ?
It would have to be ‘Basic Cookery’ by Jennie Reekie. My grandmother gave it to me for Christmas when I was 16. My teenage self wasn’t all that impressed to receive a cook book, but if you could see it now all dog- eared, well-thumbed and food-splashed, you’d know that I use it all the time. It’s got plenty of never fail recipes - the barbecue sauce in particular is just amazing!
- What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
Simply, honest and hearty food – like the hot pot my mum used to make when we were small. I now make these for my family.
- If you weren't doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
I’m exactly where I want to be – I feel privileged to be running my own business. But if I were to be doing anything else, it would be lecturing in business admin, something I qualified in years ago.
- Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
My blending machine. This is what we use to blend the dry ingredients that go into Thornleys sauce and recipe mixes. If we didn't have it, we’d be there shaking bag after bag of the mixes – I've been there in the early days of Thornleys and, believe me, I don’t want to go back!
- Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
- What advice would you give to your younger self ?
- Describe your style in three words
- What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
I’m not sure this qualifies as a gadges, but recently I bought myself a Joseph Joseph ‘Elevate’ serving spoon. At the food fairs we go to I often sample our chilli con carne and if there’s anything that drives me crackers, it’s chilli stains on my portable worktop! OK so this is more a spoon than a gadget but I love it !
- What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Seeing Thornleys through from an idea to a successful business, and sharing our family recipes with our customers . The idea came when my daughter, a coeliac like me, wanted a tuna pasta bake while we were away on holiday. We couldn't easily find the gluten free ingredients to make the dish and I just thought there was a gap in the market for recipe mixes that are free from additives and preservatives and suitable for anyone, regardless of their dietary needs. My proudest moment was hearing we’d got Coeliac UK accreditation for our range, meaning our packaging could carry the universally recognisable Crossed Grain symbol. I was thrilled to have achieved what I set out to!
- What is the worst mistake you have made ?
Letting my husband Stephen carry the chilli! Having made a chilli con carne at 5.30 am one morning, ready for a sampling at a food fair we were attending that day, we were loading up the car. Steven offered to carry the box containing our 6 litre slow cooker full of chilli con carne and our clean white aprons. It was an icy morning – you can guess what’s coming, can’t you?! He slipped on the ice, the chilli ended up all over our front steps, Steven was upside down on the lawn and our aprons were no longer white! I quickly went back in the kitchen to whip up another batch of chilli and dig out our spare aprons.
- Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn't expect !
I would love to be a ballroom dancer - to put on a stunning dress and be flung around a dancefloor by a nice, young man!
Thornleys range of Gluten Free sauce mixes are available via their website and various outlets across the county.