In the kitchen with… Helen Bowyer

Welcome to our new series ‘In the kitchen with…’, where we shine a spotlight on the fantastic team who work in our Foodservice division.

Our team at Compleat Foodservice is responsible for producing all of our own-label savoury pastry, sweet bakery, frozen ready-meals, olives, antipasti, continental meats and plant-based products for the UK’s biggest wholesalers, hospitality brands and contract caterers.

First up in our new series is our Commercial Director Helen Bowyer.

What attracted you to a career in the food industry?

“I started working in high end restaurants at 14 which kickstarted my passion for the food industry, but it wasn’t until my first role with a ready meals manufacturer that I realised the scale of the industry and the opportunities available. From there, I became a freelance Purchasing Consultant, which is how I ended up at Wrights 16 years ago.

“After a year consulting for Wrights, I loved it so much that I joined full time as Head of Purchasing which led me to my current role as Commercial Director, which I’ve been in since 2016. Following The Compleat Food Group’s acquisition of Wrights in December 2021 I took on the additional responsibility of heading up the Foodservice channel for the wider group.

Can you explain your job to us in a couple of sentences?

“I’m the Commercial Director at our Crewe site which encompasses our full range of savoury, sweet bakery, and ready meals across all market channels as well as our van sales, retail shops and vending divisions. I also head up foodservice for the wider group which includes the production from our other sites as well as for our outsourced product ranges. Our group sites make some incredible products for foodservice such as our Soft Set Scotch Egg, our plant-based products from Squeaky Bean, Vadasz’s pickles and ferments as well as our Unearthed range which includes our olives, continental meats and Pastel de Natas.”

So, what does a typical day look like for you?

“My schedule is usually jampacked, so I like to start early, catch up on emails and prepare for the day ahead. I can be doing anything from working on budgets, and foodservice strategy to onsite customer presentations. Of course, there’s always the perks of working closely with the Foodservice NPD team and getting to review NPD products before they get seen by customers.

“I work closely with the site leadership teams to fully understand any opportunities and challenges that might arise so I can ensure we’re always one step ahead when it comes to our capabilities and supply. I aim to leave by around 5:30pm so I can have time with the kids and to move onto my next job – the horses!”

What’s your favourite Compleat product and how do you like to use it?  

“Obviously I love everything from Wrights, but I have a soft spot for Vadasz’s range of pickles and ferments. My two current favourites are the Hot and Sweet Jalapeno Relish and the Pineapple and Turmeric Sauerkraut. They’re firm staples in my fridge and so delicious on salads, burgers and sandwiches, it’s such an easy way to jazz up a mid-week meal!”

What do you love the most about your job?

“Heading up Foodservice, means no day is the same, we supply in to so many different channels which keeps things really interesting. Additionally, I love the people in the business and the opportunity to get out and about to our other sites, there’s such a great feeling that comes with working in an environment where everyone has a collective passion for the food we create.

“The Compleat Food Group has fantastic ambitions and it’s amazing to be part of a business with such a strong vision and ethos. I get to go on that journey with them, growing my skillset and career in a business, and industry that I know and love.”

And finally, what do you like to do outside of work?

“I spend most of my time outside of work at the stables as me and my youngest daughter both have horses. It’s a fantastic contrast to what I do during the working day, being in outdoors really allows me to clear my head and enjoy being in the present moment.

“Between my eldest daughters singing, dancing and musical theatre classes and regular shows at the theatre, as well as my younger daughter training and competing on a regular basis with Pony Club I am kept extremely busy. But, whenever me and my husband do get some time to ourselves, we love nothing more than getting out to our favourite restaurants for a good meal and a nice bottle of wine!”

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