THE YORKSHIRE PASTA COMPANY
Our very own Yorkshire story is very much part of who we are, and we very much love getting out and about to meet other producers and find out their story and journey too. It really is a perk of the job! We’re pleased to bring you the fantastic Yorkshire story of Kathryn Bumby, owner and pasta master (what a title!) at The Yorkshire Pasta Company. It may only be a short time since this small business launched, but boy have they packed a lot in over their first 3 years!
We were so interested to find out how this Yorkshire farmer’s daughter had landed upon the idea of making a premium quality pasta in Yorkshire, and how Kathryn and her husband found themselves travelling around Italy learning from the local pasta producers with decades of knowledge to make traditional and authentic pasta that is British through and through. We headed to Yorkshire Pasta HQ to chat to Kathryn and find out more.
It all started on a walk with her husband, Tom, in the Lake District when they first came up with the idea of Yorkshire Pasta. It was a thought that popped into this foodie’s head and just wouldn’t leave! They spent some time researching premium quality British pasta and realized there was a huge gap in the market, so under the guise of being a holiday, the trip to visit the manufacturers and experts in Italy was booked and The Yorkshire Pasta Company was born.
Though Kathryn had worked in the food industry with Nestle for a number of years, this was a whole new ball game. Her determination to get her food business up and running meant that she could take on the challenge of ensuring this would be a truly British offering. With no-one in Britain, never mind Yorkshire, growing the traditional durum wheat flour that makes ‘traditional’ pasta they had to think outside the box to utilize the local wheat on offer.
Using locally milled flour they had to come up with a process that would make the most of this product – with just two ingredients forming their pasta, the process had to be just right. This process is something that Kathryn and the team keep close to their chests, but we did find out all about their slow pasta drying process drying their pasta overnight at low temperatures to allow flavour to develop as the pasta matures. Their whole process takes 2 full days, rather than the 2 hours that mass produced pasta goes through. We did have a sneak peak of the artisan process whilst at YPC HQ but we’re sworn to secrecy!
Once set up they met their first buyers at their launch at Fine Food North Show in Harrogate in March 2019. They landed at the show with samples and determination aplenty! They received a great welcome, took many pre-orders, but no-one knew at that stage what was around the corner. The pandemic brought a number of challenges and a quick change of direction. Luckily, those they had met at the March trade show honoured their pre-orders, and like us, they found their customers loyal and were lucky enough to be in such a well-supported industry. The ability to adapt quickly was soon to be tested, the customer need to shop online was paramount, and something they needed to get on top of from the get go, they were quick to launch their online shop for customers to buy direct. Their plans to flood the hospitality industry with their British pasta had to be put on hold, however, there certainly were benefits, including working with refill eco outlets that bravely set up during the pandemic and remain loyal today.
Pandemic aside, we chatted about how provenance is becoming more important for our customers, it’s certainly something that we know personally our customers connect with. We both agreed that our story and our brand can sometimes be the first thing that attracts our customers, with the great taste of the product following on from that and sealing the deal for them! Kathryn always has provenance at the forefront of her mind, and growing up a farmer’s daughter gives her that great knowledge and understanding of where food comes from, and being lucky enough to grow up in Malton, a food town where local food is celebrated, it’s not surprising that she wants to educate her young son and others on the farm to fork journey. Sunday lunch preparation is something their whole family get involved with.
Like provenance, sustainability is a watchword of our times, and this was a driving force from day one for Kathryn. Whether that be the locally, milled flour, the solar power to run HQ, feeding any waste to the family cattle, or being donated to local food banks, it was always going to be the climate friendly practices that would drive the brand and will continue to do so. To this end, we happily chatted for a while about their sustainable 100% recyclable all-paper bags, the branding of which we love! Being the brave souls they are, and knowing the quality pasta they offer, they felt they didn’t need to show the pasta through plastic – a beautifully penned illustration was all that was needed to keep the brand on its sustainability journey and showcase their premium brand perfectly.
Though it’s what’s in those beautifully branded, environmentally friendly bags that we were most interested in. Using it in our kitchen has made a huge difference to what’s in our pasta bowls now! It’s hard to believe that a product made from just flour and water can be so versatile in any cook’s armoury. It did lead us to ask the question of Kathryn’s favourite go-to pasta dish and we were surprised that it was Spaghetti Bolognaise and always has been! It’s the rich flavours of the ragu that do it for Kathryn, and with no spaghetti in their range (yet!), it’s Penne that is the pasta of choice for this dish for the whole family! Including their young son who devours a good bowl full – it’s those pasta quills that help scoop up the sauce so well!
We were intrigued to find out more about the point of difference that makes their pasta taste so good. We know about the locally sourced flour and the slow drying for flavour like no other, but Kathryn shared with us the importance of shaping of the pieces as they discovered from the master pasta makers of Italy. They use a bronze die which is a solid, bronze metal plate that cuts and shapes the pasta and only this method can create the rough surface to make the ultimate pasta, and perfect for absorbing those delicious sauces, including her favourite Bolognese!
We went along to meet Kathryn and thinking that Italy could perhaps be where she would choose to live if based solely on its culinary offerings, but after a bit of soul searching, she let us know that it would be home, Yorkshire. She likes to travel and explore but loves coming home. Everything she needs from food and drink is right here on our doorstep. Though she’s currently keen to explore more the spice and flavours of Mexican and Asian food – though I am sure we can source these with a Yorkshire twist to make her feel more at home!
We hold Kathryn very highly – juggling a young family with a young and expanding business, she certainly is a food hero to us, but we wanted to know who in the foodie world that she holds with high esteem. It was a quick response from Kathryn to hail Gilly ‘The Cook’ Robinson as that very person. Owner of the wonderful cookery school, The Cook’s Place in Malton, and she has long been inspiring, entertaining and educating the great people of Yorkshire about local food and drink, with collaboration being key to what they have to offer. Gilly has been so supportive of Kathryn, and that goes back to when Kathryn assisted and pot-washed at the cookery school, to learn on the job and be rewarded with an amazing plate of food! She met so many amazing food and drink producers and champions whilst there and has never forgotten the generosity from Gilly in all aspects of her life – business included. A mentor and friend for life.
What does the future hold for Kathryn and her loyal team? Their desire is to establish themselves as THE British Pasta brand and to share widely just how amazing it is. The opportunity is there and with the determination they have shown on their journey so far we’ll be watching closely. Not just a master at pasta is Kathryn!
LEMONY COURGETTE, CAPER & HERB PASTA SALAD
To celebrate this fantastic Yorkshire story, we've developed three brand new pasta recipes using Kathryn's delicious pasta. Try this summer ready dish, made with our new recipe award-winning Yorkshire Mayonnaise with Lemon. Find the recipe here.