Like most other event businesses, the North Berwick-based company Rogue Village has spent most of 2020 crossing things off its journal.
In a normal year, their regular events include East Lothian’s popular Canteen Street Food Festival and the Hobo Cinema.
However, to keep the business going, owners Jenny and Peter Maniam have looked sideways and are launching The Village School later this month (October 29).
This platform will take advantage of the boom in crafts and the fact that we are all stuck at home, offering pre-recorded and professionally shot online workshops and masterclasses.
“Through our events, we work with so many amazing independent artists from diverse backgrounds who, like us, have had a hard time working,” says Peter. “We wanted to develop something that could help us and others to develop some long-term stability, as well as showcase a rich range of independent British talent. We know the public is more eager than ever to support local and independent businesses – we hope we offer a really valuable way to do just that.
Their mentors will include Flora Shedden, Pyrus Botanicals, 2015 Great British Bake Off finalist and owner of ARAN Bakery, and author Jessica Elliott Dennison (of 27 Elliot’s in Edinburgh), who will demonstrate pickling and fermentation.
We spoke to Shedden, below.
What are you going to teach at the village school?
A course on sweet tarts, with tips, tricks and ideas for your own baking. I have always liked teaching and passing on skills (especially in the form of a workshop). Under current circumstances, but also for those who live more in rural areas, online courses are the perfect option.
Which of the other workshops would you like to try?
How did the shoot go?
Remarkably pleasant. I’ve been away from the camera for three or four years now because it’s not something I’m very natural for (I much prefer being behind a camera) but I said yes because I liked the concept and the idea of sharing skills.
What did you do and how does the bakery survive?
My partner and I were in confinement at my parents’ house with my two sisters, our puppy and the family dog. It was a shock at first, but we quickly found the change of pace enjoyable as we’ve both spent the past three years constantly busy. I also loved getting back to cooking with more than two people.
Fortunately, since we reopened the bakery, we have been very busy. We are now only open four days a week and that has been a big change. We have a full day to prepare, then four days of negotiation. Everyone also has two days off a week, which is heaven. Before, we felt a great pressure to open as much as possible (before confinement we were open six days a week) and it was exhausting. I worked seven days because our closing day was the only chance I had to make up for it. Hopefully something good can come out of it.