WE'RE no stranger to French Madeleines, Italian Florentines or German Lebkuchen and now one local sweet treat producer is bringing another of Europe's best-loved biscuits to Northamptonshire.
Paul Saxton from Towcester launched Dutch Delights earlier this year, a company specialising in Stroopwafels - a delicacy in the Netherlands of chewy caramel syrup sandwiched between two thin waffles and traditionally served atop a hot drink - and he is now hoping that support from the regional food project, FEAST2, will help him in his goal to make it the county's go-to cookie.
Indeed while Paul is making plans for his retirement in a few years' time to allow him more time to produce these delicious Dutch treats, he is thankful to his current employers who are responsible for sparking the idea.
"I've worked for one of the world's largest coffee companies for over 13 years and, as a result, have spent a lot of time in Holland where I've sampled more than my fair share of Stroopwafels," said Paul.
"Last year, on a trip to Utrecht market, I watched them being made and knew it was something I wanted the good people of Northamptonshire to enjoy, so researched its history and various recipes before discovering what worked best.
"I've now developed my own unique version of the product and am delighted that customers at the local food local events and festivals that I've been attending throughout this year seem to love them too."
After learning of FEAST2 (Food Enterprise Advisory Support Team), a free scheme which offers access to grant funding, sector events, mentoring and technical support to eligible food and drink manufacturers, Paul signed up this summer to take particular advantage of the last element and has already benefited from the help that's on offer.
"At first I was having some trouble with trying to get the consistency of the syrup just right and after consulting with some of the Dutch producers, who generously shared their expertise with me, I've now cracked it and am really pleased with the finished product," said Paul.
"But I also sought help from my FEAST2 technical advisor, who concurred with the solution I'd come to, and it's great to know that he is on the end of a phone or email if or when I ever need further advice. For a start-up like me, that's not only very reassuring but also absolutely invaluable."
So would he recommend the project to others?
"Well the scheme has such a diverse range of support on offer, including funding for purchasing production equipment, and while I haven't been through that application process, I've spoken to others who've benefited from it, so whatever the type of help you need, I wholeheartedly recommend getting in touch and finding out how it can make a difference to your business" he said.
FEAST2 was awarded to the Food & Drink Forum and is worth £3,934,176 in total. It will receive a further £1,967,089 in funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
For more details of FEAST2, including registering your business for the free support on offer, contact Amanda Askew at The Mallows Company on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile for more information about Dutch Delights Stroopwafel Company, including details of the forthcoming events where the tasty treats can be sampled, visit www.dutchdelights.co.uk or email email@example.com