Biddy’s Tea Room opens pop-up in Japan
The owner of two popular tearooms in Norfolk is hoping to make it big in Japan after setting up a pop-up bakery in Tokyo.
And while Japan is gripped with Rugby World Cup fever with the final on Saturday, Biddy's Tea Room boss Charlie Buchan is more worried about scoring points with her scones than scrums.
That's because Charlie, who runs Biddy's Tea Room in Lower Goat Lane, Norwich and Biddy's Kitchen in Aylsham, has been working around the clock with manager Brad Smith to cook up bakewell tarts and scones - with a flavour of quintessential Norfolk - for the Japanese.
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It has been Charlie's dream to visit Tokyo since the age of 10 but after being offered the chance to cook for a major food fair in one of Japan's biggest department stores, she nearly didn't go. Staff back home said when an email arrived from Isetan, a major store with branches across Japan, inviting her to take part in its Christmas-themed 'British Fair,' Charlie thought it was a scam.
A spokeswoman from Biddy's Tea Room told this newspaper: "I passed the email on to Charlie and she didn't get back to them as she thought it was fake, but then it turned out to be genuine. We couldn't believe they wanted us to go because we are just a small independent."
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The Isetan store, based in Shinjuku, Tokyo, is hosting a major food exhibition and flew Charlie and Brad there to cook two types of scones and a bakewell tart. The fair lasts until November 4 in-store, with other exhibitors from across the UK including major brand Hotel Chocolat.
For Charlie and Brad, it has meant getting their display area branded up like back home, even putting up some wallpaper to depict the Norfolk tearoom and they've been getting to grips with the kitchen and different ingredients, although have been using specially imported flour.
Charlie posted on Instagram: "I'm shattered but we are all prepped up and set up, recipes tested (in the most temperamental ovens ever) and ready to go.Bakewells are baking well and everything is starting to smell pretty darn good here in Japan.
"The team are working through the night here to get everything branded while we get baking for the morning. I'm so tired but it will be so great to see it."
And Biddy's Tea Room has been promoted by the Japanese store which praises the scones - a lemon and a 'Christmas' variety - for their flavour and moisture and describe why it's called 'Biddy's' - after Charlie's dog. Both shops in Norfolk are open while they are away.