Manley's Pippa Milnis relishing a challenge with home made dressings (with audio)

With help from her son Sam and an old family recipe, Pippa Miln has launched her own range of dressings made at her home in Cheshire. Emma Mayoh reports<br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

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When something like that happens, it makes you think about things and makes you realise life is too short. I stopped thinking about it and just got on with it.’

Pippa Miln’s attempt to launch a range of food dressings, based on her husband Andy’s family recipe, was already gaining pace. Farm shops were clamouring to sell her products and restaurants were beginning to take an interest. But then the unthinkable happened. The couple’s four-year-old son, Sam, was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

‘Everything stopped,’ said Pippa, who lives in Manley with Sam, Andy and their daughter Amy, seven. ‘Everything went on hold. We couldn’t do anything else.

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‘It was all a bit of a blur and our time was spent at Alder Hey. The rest was devoted to trying to keep life as normal as possible for Sam and Amy.’

But at the end of August Sam, now five, got the all-clear. And it was the strength and determination shown by him that spurred mum Pippa to start up The Dressing Company again.

She makes, following months of testing more than 20 different flavours on ‘every person that walked through the front door’, six dressings: honey, lemon, chilli, lime, garlic and original. It is this last recipe that gave Pippa the basis for the range. It was a salad dressing first devised by Andy’s grandmother Marjorie and was passed down to his mother, also called Marjorie. It has been served up at the family table for many years since.

But it was when friends started to say how good it was and how they would love to know the recipe - which includes a secret ingredient - that she started to think she could make a business.

Pippa, who is also juggling working as a marketeer, helping every lunchtime at the local school and being a mum, said: ‘Everyone loved it and they would only invite us around for parties if we brought plenty of the dressing with us. We thought it was just our friends being nice but then people who didn’t know me started to say they liked it.

‘Andy’s mum and grandma were both really good cooks and their recipes are things we all still make now. I think they would be really proud their dressing is being enjoyed by so many different people and it’s an honour to do it.’

Pippa’s sauces are sold at several places including Cheshire Deli in Tarporley and Alison’s Country Kitchen in Tattenhall as well as at markets at Grosvenor Garden Centre and Tarporley Country Market. Three Liverpool restaurants, Bistro Pierre, Bistro Jacques and Bistro Franc, are interested in her supplying them too.

Pippa was also recently featured on The Big Adventure, on The Good Food Channel, where celebrity judges including presenters Penny Smith and Ruth Langsford and chef’s Matt Tebbutt and Tristan Welch praised her dressings.  

She said: ‘In previous episodes they had been quite critical about other products so I was really nervous. But there were no negatives and they seemed to really like it.’

But Pippa has already managed to please her favourite critics - Amy and Sam.  ‘They absolutely love it and have it on absolutely everything. They love to help me sticking the labels on the jars but enjoy eating it more.‘I’m really surprised at how well it has taken off and people’s positive comments. I think my dream of making this a success is absolutely achievable. It went well before but now I’m thinking big and I’m feeling confident. Sam has made me realise anything is possible.’

Dressing up a meal

How to make the most of Pippa’s dressings

Lime: This is zingy and is the best accompaniment to fish. Baste on fish prior to cooking, use as a dip for prawns, or as an ideal topping for smoked salmon blini.

Chilli: This has got a little kick and is a great dip for crisps and crudit�s. Give your pasta that extra spice by running a spoonful of the chilli dressing through the pasta once it is cooked.

Honey: It's fantastic with sausages or other pork dishes. Prior to cooking put some honey dressing all over it and then cook as usual.

Garlic: This is just irresistible. It's great with steak if you glaze the meat as you cook it or as a dip on the side.

Original: This tasty dressing loves everything from salads to sandwiches as a relish and a dip for chips.

Lemon: This tangy flavour works best with chicken and fish. You can use it in fajitas, on a chicken salad or as a sauce with a hot chicken meal. Enjoy with a Sunday roast by basting your chicken while you cook it.

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