Sophie Boxall, of county food group Hampshire Fare, meets a stallholder at this Sunday's Winchester Hampshire Farmers' Market

Winning Best Showing for a Newcomer at the 2006 National Great Taste Awards after only being in business for a matter of months is literally the proof in the pudding for Sarah Potter who runs her own dessert company, Potts Pantry.

With a list of luscious desserts, including chocolate-crusted lemon tart, plum and almond tart, gooseberry and elderflower meringue pie, blueberry cheesecake and chunky marmalade brioche bread-and-butter pudding, to name but a few, Sarah's business has snowballed whilst she picks up awards along the way.

Sarah, 27, started Potts' Pantry in autumn, 2005, having always wanted to work for herself. Previously, she did a Cordon Bleu diploma at Tante Marie in Woking, worked as a chalet chef for a ski season, at pubs whilst at college and for an outside catering company cooking for large weddings and dinner parties to gather plenty of experience.

Sarah saw a gap in the market at Hampshire Farmers' Markets for specialist desserts, which no one else was producing, and as this tallied with her own beliefs about sourcing local ingredients and working with local businesses, it was to be the way forward.

"It wasn't easy getting into Hampshire Farmers' Markets as they have strict regulations," says Sarah.

"I also had to invest in a refrigerated chiller to display my products and a van to transport everything, which was a major outlay.

"The markets were an immediate success and all my customers were very positive from the start with the desserts and patisserie I was selling."

Sarah also sells hot chocolate, made from local full fat milk and proper Belgian chocolate. This has been a great success, and she now packages and sells this through her sister's website and shop,

Sarah has just invested in a commercial coffee machine to sell coffee with locally-sourced Jersey milk.

Sarah started working from her mum's kitchen at home, which she says "was a huge challenge at times but looking back I know I couldn't have started without it.

"My mum had to put up with a lot of inconvenience and me basically taking over her kitchen. I'm lucky she was so supportive."

Sarah moved into a commercial kitchen in Petersfield this year, which, she says, "has made a huge difference. I'm a lot more organised, I don't work such ridiculous hours and it's great to close the door at the end of the day."

A member of Hampshire Fare, Sarah's business acumen has paid off. In 2006, she won Hampshire Life Best Newcomer in Hampshire, which was a great boost to her confidence. She then won three gold National Great Taste Awards for her Chocolate Belgian Tart, Rum Truffle Dessert and Christmas Pudding and says she still can't quite believe she consequently won their Best Showing for a Newcomer, which, she says, "was great and made all the 13-hour days worthwhile!"

Sarah supplies a number of pubs and restaurants in Hampshire, is a regular at Winchester Hampshire Farmers' Market and offers a bespoke service for special occasions.

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