I recently went to Charlie Bigham's to meet the founder, and see the meals being made.
Charlie Bigham told me: "Our meals have a very broad appeal, that occasion of being a bit busy, and wanting to shove something in the oven, pour a glass of wine, and relax. We aspire to being a company that produces really nice food. Our mantra is to be a little bit better every day, every month."
His advice for food start-ups?
According to the Financial Times, the supermarket's "share of stomach" is shrinking,with the rise and rise of eating out affordably.
"For a lot of people now, eating out is a more economic and pleasurable way of eating than buying ingredients at a supermarket, going home and cooking and eating it." (Peter Martin, CGA Peach, who track UK eating-out trends
I've been working with itsu.
I had a great time chatting to itsu customers about what they love about itsu and what they'd like more of on the shelves.
It was a "snapshot" of all the different reasons why folk visit itsu.
These are not just steaks. These are aged steaks.
Any butcher can offer aged steaks.
Everything in this shop underlines quality and provenance. The elegantly cursive gilded logo, the nostalgic Plum Pudding notice on the wall evoking comforting Dickensian hints of Christmas, plenty, family and jollity, the bloodied aprons of the butchers, the carcasses they are constantly hefting...
Yesterday in Waitrose, I watched a 10-month old toddler in a pushchair lean over to the supermarket basket his father had placed by his pushchair, while his parents chatted, waiting in the queue to pay. He chose this product and some bananas from the other products in the basket. He recognised "his" product by the colours, shape and texture of the packaging. I could see him enjoying the colour and feel of the Ella's Kitchen pouch.
His young, new, mother looked at me and said: "I know I should be making him home-cooked food, and I do but sometimes it's so easy to buy these..."