Alicia Weston trained as a Pharmacologist but after some postgrad research, she worked in venture capital & investment banking for 18 years. In this time she was heavily involved with charitable & corporate social responsibility activities including education and Crisis, the homeless charity. She also founded Parkholme Supper Club in 2010, to raise money for Medecins Sans Frontieres.
In 2012 she left The City to work for the New Economics Foundation, a progressive think tank, to work on financial models to increase the amount of social and institutionally managed private rented housing; her work is currently being implemented. Parkholme Supper Club (nominated “London’s #1 supper club” by The Evening Standard’s London Live TV) to date has raised well over £120,000 for Medecins Sans Frontieres. It operates entirely with volunteers.
It was the tight budgets that PSC works with (yet delivering highly rated food) that inspired the concept for Bags of Taste. Working with non-professional volunteers, it was easy to see where there were gaps in skills, and diners regularly marvelled how PSC could give so much of its revenue to charity, as they themselves couldn’t cook for such low budgets. Having taught cooking at Crisis, she was conscious of budgets being an issue for students, but was also aware of research showing that cooking lessons have very limited impact on students’ long term diets.
So this inspired the design of a new kind of cooking course, one that used all the tools of behavioural science, to ensure that the effort put in paid a handsome dividend in terms of behaviour change. Focus groups and research on students with low budgets identified the key barriers to cooking (which includes, but is not limited to, budgets) and this informed the course design.
Bags of Taste formally incorporated in August 2014 after an extremely successful pilot in March 2014 and 2 further pilots to refine the concepts.