My Week: Alan Rosenthal of stewed!

The food entrepreneur on his new cookbook, the importance of networking and preparing for the Good Food show in Birmingham.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
I tend to start work about 7.45am by reading emails and catching up on anything I didn’t manage to get done the day before. It’s been a hectic month for us. We launched our first cook book, which has been well received (I think!) and we’ve also appointed a new chairman – Richard Nieto, ex-CEO of West Cornwall Pasty Company.

We’re a little team at stewed!. It’s mainly just two of us, Mark Seymour Mead, who’s based in Manchester, and myself. It means that what I do varies day to day because I’m involved with so many different parts of the business.

This week I’ve had meetings with two of the major supermarkets who stock our products, Sainsbury’s and Budgens. We’ve been discussing our business plan for next year and tasting the new product we’re launching in January – a beef and ale stew. The cooking is outsourced to manufacturers but Mark and I are still constantly checking the quality of the food and making sure we’re happy with it. I’ve also been writing the copy for the packaging and doing a lot of the marketing, as I’m involved in the creative process too.

On Tuesday I offered some advice to a lady who’s starting up her own food company. I’ve found I’m now getting a lot more calls from people who want advice on starting their own business. I think that’s really important. When I started out it was incredibly beneficial to speak to people who had been in the industry longer than I had. As a start-up it’s really valuable and so I’m thrilled to be able to help people out.

I usually finish about 6.30 in the evening, although the reality is when you run your own business you’re always thinking about it – it manifests itself. I tend not to sit in front of my computer late at night, but sometimes things have to get done. When I first started the business I was working evenings and weekends too but recently I’ve got the balance a lot better. I don’t have a family and I’m single so it doesn’t affect my personal life too much, but I enjoy socialising and seeing my friends - going out to dinner is something I like to do as much as I can.

The rest of the week I’ve spent writing a newsletter, catching up with my mentor who’s given me lots of advice since starting the business, and going to a networking event with other SME owners. I’ve also been doing the less interesting stuff like seeing my accountant and sorting out paperwork. It’s not glam all the time.

Next week I’ll be preparing for the Good Food show in Birmingham which is coming up the week after. I need to sort out what we’re going to take and making a note of what electricity requirements and appliances we’re going to need.

It’s always busy but I’m hoping to take some time off between Christmas and New Year. It’ll be back to full swing in January though, which will be a key month for us because we’re launching our new range of stew and hoping for greater distribution across the country.

Alan Rosenthal is the founder of stewed!, which brews homemade stews using fresh and locally-sourced ingredients.

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