We celebrate some of the top female foodies in the county and hear who inspires them. From some of our finest chefs to great makers and other hospitality heroes, these are the people who make Lancashire such a wonderfully tasty place.

Great British Life: Studio Bakery bakesStudio Bakery bakes (Image: Studio Bakery)

Allison and Lucy Metcalf, founders of Studio Bakery

‘We want to be able to support each other in more than making our bakes, we want for our team to feel like a community.’

To say opening a business has been a whirlwind for Allison and Lucy Metcalf is an understatement. Studio Bakery started in Allison’s garden studio back in 2017. But within four weeks demand was so strong – in a large part owing to a contract with Booths creating own label products - they had to move to new premises, The Cow Shed at Bolton by Bowland. Again, in Summer 2022, following more listings with the likes of Waitrose, they moved to The Bake House in Clitheroe, so they could make even more cakes and bakes.

‘I’m a self-taught, scratch baker and we started in the garden with my mum, Sandra and sister, Victoria, helping,’ says Allison. ‘It was a surprise when things moved as quickly as they did but we just went with it. It’s been a busy time, a bit of a whirlwind, but we love doing it.’

Today, directors of the business Allison and Lucy and their 45-strong, all-female team make anything from 15,000 to 30,000 packs of everything from brownie bites and blondies to flapjacks, biscuits and shortbread each week. What is remarkable is that every delicious bite is still made entirely by hand.

‘Handmade is the heart of our philosophy and our ethos,’ says Allison. ‘We don’t want to have our products made by machines, the women in the team are brilliant at what they do. By continuing to make everything in small batches, by hand, we are creating a high quality, artisan product that we have control over and are proud of. It’s hugely important to us.’

Their success is unsurprising. Before Studio Bakery, Allison spent 22 years helping to run the hugely successful Farmhouse Fare desserts and puddings business. In fact, some recipes still used by the business, are ones developed by Allison, who was general manager. But Allison wanted to be able to plough her own furrow and focus and small batch bakes and decided to launch Studio Bakery.

The couple, who live in Barnoldswick with eight-year-old son, Ralph, now supply some of the UK’s biggest food retailers like Tesco, Waitrose, Booths and Bolton-based Carr’s Pasties making own label products and their own Studio Bakery brand as well supplying their own shop at the Clitheroe site. They are an all-female business, with mum, Sandra, 74, still in the factory three days a week.

Allison, who has also worked as a recipe consultant, manages the bakery and is responsible for all the product development. The shop allows her to try new recipes and gain feedback from willing locals. Lucy manages the admin, finance and all operational matters. But their roles as company owners go far beyond leading the business. They also work with their team on everything from fixing things at the site to helping with car repairs.

Great British Life: Nicola Muller, one of the formidable females on the Studio Bakery teamNicola Muller, one of the formidable females on the Studio Bakery team (Image: Studio Bakery)

‘We were showing one of our wonderful women how to check their oil recently,’ says Lucy. ‘And have done other things similar in the past. I do all the work repairing things and work on the buildings, unless it’s electric or gas, and we get on really well.

‘We want to be able to support each other in more than making our cakes, we want for our team to feel like a community.’

The couple are passionate about the environment, and they manage a community orchard at their Cow Shed site in Bolton by Bowland where 100 heritage apple trees, as well as cherry, apple, pear, plum and damson trees, have been planted. They are also looking at other pockets of land to purchase so they can rewild them.

‘We’re in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and, for us, it is about being responsible as business owners and making sure our impact on the environment is as low as possible,’ says Lucy. ‘Our site at Bolton by Bowland was built in an eco-conscious way, our Studio Bakery car is fully electric, all of our packaging is recyclable, and we do lots of other things to reduce that impact. But we can always do more.

‘The community orchard is a project we’ve been working on for a little while, with other groups including the Friends of Bowland. We’ve seen a huge loss of orchards in the UK over the last century, especially smaller scale ones. This is about preserving something special that is a part of our heritage and also planting for the future.

‘When we’re producing enough fruit we will use the fruit in our bakery products but we would also like to work with local children, who will be able to see the entire process of growing fruit, through to manufacture to increase their awareness and understanding of how food grows. We’re also planting wildflowers to rewild the land, creating space for nature.’

Allison and Lucy area a formidable pair who now want to grow their Studio Bakery brand further. Despite enjoying such success, they keep their feet firmly on the ground.

‘We are happy with how the business has developed and we’ll be looking at expanding again soon, which is brilliant news. We’re proud to be two women leading out company, with a fabulous group of women. We’re excited for the future.’

Who inspires us: Each other. It probably sounds strange to say this but we keep each other going and at our best. Things like International Women’s Day are important, but we look forward to the time when it is no longer necessary to have it as all women are considered equal.

Great British Life: Michelle Parry, The Rewilding. Michelle Parry, The Rewilding. (Image: Mindy Coe Photography)

Michelle Parry, Founder, The Rewilding

‘Humans need connection and what better way to do that than through food’

‘Lancashire called me home. That pull to return to the family farm I grew up on was so strong,’ says Michelle Parry, founder of Cockerham based The Rewilding, a gorgeous spot on the Morecambe Bay coast that hosts retreats, events, immersive feasts and wild food experiences.

Michelle had spent her early career travelling and working in some of the biggest cities in the world, working for a not-for-profit organisation, leading groups of digital nomads, in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. But it was the dairy farm she grew up on in Cockerham, and a desire to drive more human connection through nature and shared experiences that called her home.

‘I wanted to bring my fascination for people and communities to create something special,’ says Michelle. ‘We live in a world that is incredibly well connected with technology but, in other ways, we are disconnected from people, the land we live on and nature more than ever.

‘Coming together to gather and connect with others in real life is critical to our overall wellbeing in order to thrive and survive. The pandemic and the rise in popularity of working from home – it’s not how humans are meant to be – humans need connection and what better way to do that than through food.

Michelle and sister, Rachel, have renovated Patty’s Barn on the farm and use the space to host their Untamed Supper Clubs, their signature slow dining experiences which include a seasonal feast, prepared over fire, to be enjoyed as a group.

Great British Life: Michelle hosts supper clubs at The Rewilding. Michelle hosts supper clubs at The Rewilding. (Image: Mindy Coe Photography)‘We have always felt connected to the land and understand the efforts that go into the production of every mouthful of food. It’s been a part of who I am since I was a young child. But that’s not the case for everyone. That connection to food is lost to so many and we want to change that in any way we can.’

‘I love the supper clubs because you can come as a group, as a couple or on your own and everyone can gather around that table and share conversations while enjoying some great food. There is something special in that. As farmers, we have always felt connected to the land, but these events really help make that connection clear. The feasts include ingredients foraged from the marshes near the farm and we use meat from our neighbours, Stuart and Caroline Lawson, producers of Cockerham Salt Marsh Lamb. We love being able to celebrate this way of eating, the producers who make it possible and being able to bring people together.’

Michelle works with resident chefs, including forager, hunter and fire cook Rob Booth, as well as with guest chefs, including on May 5th when Lancashire Life columnist Oli Martin and business partner Matt Willdigg will cook a feast to be served on the salt marsh.

‘This is outdoor nomadic fine dining at its best,’ says Michelle. ‘A superb feasting menu from Oli and Matt will be prepared with the salt marshes becoming the dining room – we will put a table out on the marsh – and the backdrop of Morecambe Bay will be the view.

‘Oli and Matt, who are also keen foragers, will create each dish with inspiration directly from the coast. It’s exciting to do something so immersive.’

Great British Life: Michelle Parry, The Rewilding. Michelle Parry, The Rewilding. (Image: Mindy Coe Photography)

Michelle is also hoping to work with nearby communities, including local schools to establish a community garden to encourage that deeper connection with food further.

‘Growing up on a farm, that connection has always been there for me and it’s something I’m deeply grateful to my parents for,’ says Michelle. ‘They were always having dinner parties and food was something to savour and enjoy – we also knew where everything came from.

‘It’s also important that people have that connection with land – we are in a climate crisis and we are letting the land and the planet on which we live slip away from us. If we can work with young children on a garden, we’re helping that connection to be there from early on in life. I would love to do community meals, also. Now, it’s expensive for people who live in the village to come to the clubs, I want to find a way to change that so it can be something for everyone to enjoy and bring even more connection.’


Who inspires me: Lucie Carrington, founder, The Herbarium, Lancaster

‘I feel grateful to have a network of women managing small businesses on Lancashire, particularly Lucie from The Herbarium. We support each other, and I know I can reach out to her anytime to bounce ideas, off load and celebrate our little wins.