The ice cream king Alistair Jessel
PUBLISHED: 14:05 25 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:57 20 February 2013
Kent entrepreneur Alastair Jessel on why he has quit farming, fruit-growing and farm shops for ice cream
Never afraid of a challenge or a new direction, Alastair Jessel has taken the radical decision to sell a 260-acre farm that has been in the family since 1870, move to a new home in Sissinghurst and shift his Taywell ice cream business to the same site in Paddock Wood where he began his career with a stone tile business two decades ago.
Now running what he believes is Kent's first purpose-built ice cream factory, Alastair says: The business was meant to be a hobby for me and it was great fun, but I hadn't realised how successful it was going to be and how much it was going to outgrow the farm.
The feedback in letters, emails and tweets from customers has been so encouraging when weve had so many grotty times on the farm.
These include having to close his specialist shop in Tunbridge Wells after failing to attract enough customers and dealing with with what he describes as unjustified complaints from neighbours about the ice cream business on his farm.
Although clearly a labour of love, there are no shortcuts with ice cream of this quality. From growing his own raspberries in order to keep up with the demand for their best-selling sorbet, to insisting that every stage is done by hand, the standards are impeccable.
Its not a business you can turn into a multi-million pound industry, says Alastair. Our usp is that it is all done by hand and that whatever we can get, grow or source locally, we will.
Despite intending to not only become a dominant player in Kent but also to establish a serious presence in Londons golden triangle from Putney to Battersea, you wont find Taywell ice cream in the supermarket but rather in your local farm shop, select theatres such as Trinity in Tunbridge Wells and via an Ocado-style home delivery ice cream service with online orders.
And Alastair, whose own favourite ice cream among the 100 different flavours he offers is white Malteser, is aiming for an ambitious 100 per cent growth in 2011. Pass me the honeycomb tub...
GET IN TOUCH:
Taywell Ice Creams, Forstal House
Maidstone Road, Beltring, Paddock Wood, Nr Tonbridge TN12 6PY