The October pick of the month in The Lightbox Café is the delicious, handmade popcorn by Popcorn Kitchen. Based in Bagshot, we love the fresh taste and different flavours!

Tell us more about yourselves and how you got into the Popcorn making business?
Well Clare being from a marketing background and PJ in property it didn’t seem like the most obvious path to follow! However we were inspired by the American style of popcorn that we’d seen being cooked in a massive kettle rather than the microwavable stuff we’d seen in the UK supermarkets. We decided to take a leap and buy ourselves one of these massive cast iron kettles and started popping at food festivals and events. With the overwhelming interest and success in what we were making, we decided to package our popcorn for the retail market. Although retail is the largest part of our business now, our food festival origins are still very key to our company’s identity and how we go about our business. With a huge focus on the quality of our popcorn, the level of attention and human touch needed in the production process is key to creating what we believe to be the best popcorn you’ll ever taste. We still like to keep to our roots by regularly popping at events and festivals throughout the year, helping spread the word of our popcorn and celebrate the fun that comes from eating it.

Our favourite flavour is the deliciously moreish Sweet and Salt (closely followed by Olive Oil and Sea Salt), which is your favourite and how do you decide on new flavours?
My favourite flavor changes on a daily basis so it’s hard to just pick one! I guess it depends on where you’re eating it and with whom. For me the classic original Sweet and Salt is perfect for devouring in front of a good film (add some chocolate buttons and you have a film feast!), however Sea Salt & Olive Oil is definitely my favourite with a sandwich at lunchtime!

When it comes to deciding on flavours, at Popcorn Kitchen it is all about simplicity. We let the quality of our popcorn itself do the talking, not overpowering flavours! We want to create flavours that are classic and long lasting, with all our flavours having ingredients that can be found in your kitchen cupboard. We also only use the best ingredients, with superior ‘mushroom’ popcorn rather than the popular ‘butterfly’ style, which means bigger, rounder pieces of popcorn with an extra big crunch, as well as, uniquely, using corn oil. This enhances the flavour of the corn rather than masking it and is definitely a key reason why our popcorn tastes so different!

Your Popcorn is made using traditional handmade methods, can you tell us more about this?
The way we cook our popcorn originates from the classic American way of popping corn, which is in a large cast iron kettle. This isn’t too different from the way you would cook it at home on your stove top, but just in a much bigger ‘pot’. Each ingredient is added by hand at exactly the right moment to create the taste and texture that we want our popcorn to have. This differs according to each batch, so it really does take a great deal of skill and attention to get right.

You are based in Woking, what are your favourite things to do in the town?
We’re actually now based in Bagshot, so not too far away! However there are so many lovely things that Woking has to offer, from the fantastic shopping centre to the lively theatre scene. A personal favourite of ours is the new Market Walk, which is fantastic for small independent companies and trying out what some of the local food producers have to offer.

Have you got a favourite exhibition at The Lightbox?
I’m a big fan of printmaking, so your Café Gallery exhibition of Surrey Artists Richenda Court and Laurie King really interested me. I dabble in a bit of linocutting myself so I always love seeing what local contemporary art there is surrounding this field, Richenda Court’s ‘Sumi’ is a personal favourite of mine. Although, I do love the Heritage collection as well, as it’s always a good visit for looking at local artifacts from around the Woking area!

Thank you to Clare Sykes Founder of Popcorn Kitchen for answering our questions! A selection of popcorn from the Popcorn Kitchen is available to buy in our Café.