One of our greatest supporters at Creative Nature is Rosie Brandreth, who was a finalist in the Great British Bake Off in 2019.
You may have also seen Rosie on Instagram where she currently has more than 300K followers who enjoy watching her bake her amazing creations and it’s clear to her audience that baking is one of her greatest life passions. You can find out more about Rosie here – https://rosieandralphbake.co.uk
What you may not have realised from watching GBBO though – and it didn’t really come out very much in the show – is that Rosie has a severe allergy to nuts and, like our CEO Julianne has anaphylaxis. Indeed it was this allergy which probably lies behind her passion for cooking, experimenting and baking in the kitchen.
It’s this need to eat nut free at all times which brought Creative Nature and Rosie together.
More than once, if you follow us, our CEO Julianne or Rosie on Instagram, you’ll have seen them baking and Rosie, who is about to celebrate her 30th birthday, is an advocate, supporter and brand ambassador of our products.
We recently caught up with Rosie to ask her a few more questions about her life:
What do you do for a living?
I’m actually a vet and have recently moved from working in Somerset back to Oxfordshire, which was where I grew up. I also love to bake and I’m earning a living through being a social media influencer as well.
Currently I work as a vet and take a week of night shifts once during the month (when I will be totally incommunicado) and then I bake the rest of the time! I absolutely love it!
When did you find out you were allergic to nuts?
I was about five years old and was at a family party. I ate a cheesecake with hazelnuts in the base which I’d had before and which my mum often baked. I started coughing and coughing. I remember walking away as people there assumed something had gone down the wrong way or I was over excited.
I just couldn’t stop coughing at all and it got worse and worse. I just couldn’t get any air, my face started swelling and my parents rushed me to A&E. Once there they treated me and I remember vomiting into a bin and being utterly mortified by it. I was then diagnosed with a severe nut allergy.
What effect did this have on your parents?
They must have been terrified. They were terrified, I was too young of course to discuss it with them but I remember we didn’t go out to restaurants or out to eat for such a long time. There just were not the food options which are available to us now. Everything had to be cooked from scratch, often with fresh ingredients to be sure I was safe.
Can you remember the first thing you baked?
It was a lemon cake based on an easy recipe I had in a book called My First Baking Book. I had a go and it worked! I then went on to bake some cookies and used a whole jar of baking powder which didn’t work as well. However it started something and soon I was making cookies, brownies and then doughnuts.
I made my first doughnut when I was ten because I really, really wanted to be able to eat doughnuts!
What was school like when it came to eating or treats?
I enjoyed school and had good friends so I was not unhappy. However my allergy to nuts did single me out on several occasions.
I remember once there being a dessert which included almonds for lunch and I got a choc ice instead and all of my friends were insanely jealous!
Pictures of me were also plastered all around one of my schools when I first started there – in the corridors, classrooms and staff room – telling everyone that I had a nut allergy. That was not great fun when you are new and trying to make friends. Everyone quickly knew me as the ‘allergy’ girl.
We once did a trip to Cadbury World and a giant sign was put around my neck which said ‘Do Not Feed’ which wasn’t very nice and we just wouldn’t do that now.
I remember at the end they gave out little packets of Buttons and I knew I was safe with them, they were sweets I could eat safely. However no one would give me any even though I asked – saying I knew they were safe – no one would take the risk. Even at the age of eight, I knew more about my allergy and what foods I could – and could not eat – than any teacher or adult around me (apart from my parents).
How did you cope at university?
At Cambridge University it was great. They were so supportive when it came to foods and eating out. We used to eat in formal halls and the catering staff got to know me and would always ensure I could eat alongside others. I’m lucky in that I can be around nuts, I just cannot eat them and I don’t want to risk touching them.
It was sometimes tricky when I was socialising or going to parties. I would often eat before I went and not eat out, usually just hugging my bottle of wine! I got many comments about not eating, and I was very skinny then so I suspect assumptions were made. However it improved when I had the facilities in student accommodation to cook and bake – which I did.
How did GBBO come about?
Like many people, I watched the show and people were always telling me to apply as they know I love baking and I bake often. I finally applied just to shut everyone up and I told the producers about my allergy – to be honest not thinking for one second that I would get beyond application stage. I did get through the initial selection once and then no further and then last year I got selected and I was amazed and thrilled.
During filming I was even interviewed about my allergy and its impact by Paul and Prue however it was never actually broadcast which was a shame. It was an opportunity missed to highlight allergies and anaphylaxis as an issue. I’m so grateful I went for it because it has changed my life!
See us on instagram with Rosie on 22nd October 2020 at 5pm where we will be live to answer all of your questions!