In the fifth of our series celebrating the team of artisans that are the backbone, the engine, the face and the unique personality of Fudge Kitchen, meet Arianne Mills (left): production site manager of our Kent production facility and The Creative One in the family.
After 30 years of hand making fresh whipping cream fudge in our seven UK wide shops, 2012 saw t he launch of a parallel new butter gourmet fudge range, developed for a longer shelf life, allowing us to spread the fudge gospel further afield. Over 200 stockists in more than 20 countries worth of ‘afield’, in fact.
With this new range came the need for a production facility, which was duly opened in Aylesham by celebrity chef, Richard Phillips: “Passion, enthusiasm and quality!” he gushed fittingly on the day, “What’s absolute class here is that there is no skimping on ingredients, but you can tell by eating the fudge that this is quality and there’s love that’s gone into making it. This is all produced from the heart.”
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, Richard (here seen cutting that crucial ribbon).
And love has indeed gone into it, for fudge is virtually running through Ari’s veins. Like so many of our team, she started working in the Canterbury Fudge Kitchen shop as a Saturday girl at a quite literal Sweet 16; continuing there throughout her A-levels and her Fine Art degree (now applied to her sumptuous hampers and wedding favours), before returning four years ago to take on Aylesham.
Since then, the empire has grown and grown under Queen Ari’s glorious reign, with 20 different unprecedented ranges emerging from her tireless gastro-lab, including Drinking Fudge, Liquid Fudge, Fudge Making kits, dipped fingers and myriad themed selections. All are hand made by Ari and her 15 strong core team, who, in 2016 alone, produced a whopping 6,500 batches of fudge.
“Our most curious order,” says Ari, “has to be the lavender fudge for the Yorkshire Lavender Company. Surprisingly, the fudge is delicious. So delicious that we have included it in our new ‘Love Fudge’ selection box.”
So, over to you, Ari. Tell us about cheese, dogs and defeating zombies with spray bleach … and, off the record, how you manage to remain gorgeous in a blue hairnet …?
1. Name? Arianne Mills
2. Position? Production Site Manager
3. Location? Aylesham
4. How long have you worked at FK? 11 years
5. Favourite flavour? Chocolate Chilli & Orange
6. Favourite FK product? Peanut Brittle (left)
7. What do you like about your job? We work with sugar and chocolate, what’s not to love?!
8. Favourite activities when you’re not at work? Cooking & walking my dog
9. Tell us something that might surprise us about you? I have a degree in Fine Art
10. What’s one thing you couldn’t live without? Cheese
11. What kind of music do you listen to? RnB
12. What’s your favourite TV programme? Dragon’s Den
13. If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? A classic chicken roast with all the trimmings
14. Dog or cat person? Dogs
15. Motto or Personal Mantra: Everything happens for a reason!
16. How long is a piece of string? However long you want it to be….
17. If you could sell fudge to any person alive or dead who would it be? Beyonce
18. What is the most overrated film of all time? Twilight
19. Star Wars or Star Trek? Neither
20. In the event of a zombie apocalypse where would you run to and what would be your weapon of choice? In the cleaning cupboard with two bottles of spray bleach
27. Who would play you in a film of your life? Miss Piggy 😉