My guest today is Ben Branson
Ben is the founder of Seedlip – Seedlip is a non-alcoholic spirit and it’s the first of its kind. Served in gorgeous clear bottles, with beautiful branding, with names such as Garden 108 and Spice 94, it has all the romance and allure of a gin. Except it is most definitely not gin.
It’s beyond clever. Four years ago tee-totaller Ben started tinkering in his kitchen, buying a copper still and experimenting with herbal remedies. After hours of experimenting, Seedlip was born. The first 1,000 bottles sold out in just three weeks, the next 1,000 sold out within only three days and the next 1,000 in an incredible thirty minutes online. Pretty impressive stuff!
Fast forwards to today and Seedlip’s success is the kind that most start ups can only dream of. They are stocked in Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, high-end bars including at The Savoy and in over 100 Michelin-starred restaurants including The Ledbury, The Fat Duck and far too many to even mention. Drinks giant Diageo even wanted in on the action and invested very early on in Seedlip’s journey.
But behind every fairytale story is another more interesting saga of hard work and most entrepreneurs will tell you that there’s no such thing as an overnight success . Ben bottled and labelled the first 1,000 bottles himself. He’s on the road more than 240 days a year and it’s not uncommon for him to attend 20 events in 20 days.
So we find out from Ben all about the amazing last few years and find out from him what they have been like. He still doesn’t seem to be able to believe the success he’s having which just makes him all the more likeable.
I’m seriously loving the sound of his mum’s shepherds pie. It sounds wonderful. His mum sounds by all account like she’s a great cook as she gets several shout outs including his final choice of desert island dish. His childhood played a huge role in his interest in farming and the sourcing of ingredients and I love hearing stories like that when you realise that someone’s life has come full circle. It also makes me realise how important it is to think of these things as parents as these are memories that seem to last forever!
I am in total agreement that shepherd’s pie must always be served with ketchup. It should be mandatory in my humble opinion. It’s completely true what Ben says about a roast being a fairly simple looking thing to cook but actually it require some good timing skills and a fair bit of practice to make sure everything’s ready to eat at the same time. Also, one must never underestimate the importance of gravy. It’s crucial.
The cheese, ham and pickle sandwich was his sandwich of choice and it was clear that for Ben there was obviously no other option. He eats them in the supermarket, he will eat upmarket ones but his favourites are the kind served at cricket teas, with all the crusts cut off.
Desert Island Dish: His mums roast lamb with peas
Luxury item: His dog Kiwi
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Check out the dish created in honour of Ben, if you’ve heard this episode you will not be surprised to learn that it heavily features peas. An homage to the humble pea.