Introducing: Marita Lietz
Marita and her husband, Rupert, set up Bubble& in August 2013. The innovative idea is based around a traditional bubble and squeak base, known as a 'bubble'. It is served with a range of seasonal and locally sourced toppings. It is British street food at its best. We caught up with Marita to find out how the first six months of business have been for them.
When did the idea for the business come to you?
Rupert has been a chef for over 20 years. More and more, he noticed bubble and squeak was something that pubs and restaurants were regularly putting on their menus?it's become quite trendy to do so?.and he just suddenly thought how fabulous it would be to create a unique recipe with a variety of flavours and toppings, which he'd never seen anyone do anywhere. He was very confident that British people everywhere would love it.
What is your career background?
I have worked in media, sales, marketing and events. My interest in food comes from my husband's cooking, he knows what I like even before I do! Rupert has always had a passion for food and has worked in kitchens across the world including Australia, France and Italy. Rupert's mother ran her own catering business when he was growing up so he was brought up on amazing home cooked food.
Did it take long to develop the perfect Bubble& base for your range of toppings?
Rupert (very proudly) reminds me (quite frequently) that he got the recipe right on the first go! We sell the base separately as a product to take home and cook, it's proved really popular.
Where do your ideas for the toppings come from?
Just by being creative, looking around at the seasonal produce we see at the Hampshire Farmers' Markets and knowing which flavours work well together. We believe in sourcing locally ingredients and buy everything we can from Hampshire. Obviously there are some foreign ingredients such as halloumi which we have to source from further afield.
How many of you are involved in the business?
It's just the two of us at the moment.
How do you balance being a parent and attending all the events and markets?
Luckily, our youngest is still a baby and loves selling bubble and squeak (she doesn't say much, just grins at our customers). On a more serious note, it can definitely be challenging at times. We are very fortunate to have such supportive grandparents.
What has the feedback been like from your customers?
At every event, at least one person grows very wide-eyed and says 'wow, what a brilliant idea'. Then they taste the food and make such sounds of pleasure while they are eating that it can only lead us to believe we are on to something.
Where do you sell Bubble&?
Hampshire Farmers' Markets, R.A. Tier (our local green grocer in Emsworth) and special events/festivals around the south and in London.
Which is the most popular flavour?
It's a close call between our Bubble& Smoked Bacon and Bubble& Halloumi.
What do you think of the Hampshire food scene?
We think the quality of the produce available is second to none. From Devese Farm sausages to the Isle of Wight mushrooms, we are spoilt for choice. Eggs play an important part for some of our hot dishes, we have to make sure the quality/freshness is first class?we source ours from Noah's Arc Farm.
What do you love most about your job?
Knowing that we've created something so unique that people love and getting their direct verbal feedback. We truly enjoy working together, as well.
Have you been surprised by how well your business is doing?
The retail side of it, yes, pleasantly surprised, as originally it wasn't in our plans to sell fresh bubble and squeak to take home. But now, it's a major part of what people know us for.
What is your vision for the business going forward?
We'd like to grow our retail to multiple outlets and to open the Bubble& restaurant!
What would be your top tip to someone with a foodie idea wanting to start up in the Hampshire area?
Make it quality. Make it original. And make it local.
You can find Bubble& at Hampshire Farmers' Markets in Winchester, Petersfield and Southsea. They also attend Love Southsea markets and special events in the south and London. Check out their website below for details of where they'll be.
Image: Taken by The Electric Eye Photography at the Business South Local Produce Show held at the Grand Harbour Hotel on 23rd January 2014.