One year on: BBA Impact on Entrepreneur Winner

Sept. 25, 2017

For Tamao Sako, winning a 2016 British Business Award (BBA) was the assurance she needed to transform her British baking business from a successful private venture to a company with growth potential.

Since picking up the title Entrepreneur of the Year she has set up The British Pudding Co. Ltd., secured contracts with some of the UK’s top organisations and written a new book. And she shows no signs of slowing down.

“The BBA gave me a stage and, with that, so many opportunities to do more,” Ms Sako told the BBCJ. “I realised that I had to take those chances and continue to work hard, doing my best. But I also came to understand that, going forward, I could do my work as a business rather than as a hobby, which is how I had been working to that point.”

Ms Sako’s business was born out of her love for British sweets, nurtured over 10 years spent enjoying elevenses and afternoon tea with her elderly neighbours in Berkshire. On returning to Osaka in 2012, she set out to introduce Japanese people to the best of the UK’s traditional cakes and biscuits through baking classes. Her extensive knowledge and infectious enthusiasm soon drew attendees from across Japan to her sell-out classes and she began expanding her offerings.

At the BBA she was recognised for her success as a Japanese expert on British baking and cuisine; her popular classes, blogs, TV show consultancy, and UK tours; and for receiving the 2016 Gourmand World Cookbook Grand Prix prize for her British cookbook. 

Describing the win as “such a big change” to her life, Ms Sako explained that doors have continued to open since the night of the BBA, almost one year ago.

 “I have won bigger projects and gained more work from corporates,” she said, adding that she has also been able to diversify her work. Now, she gives lectures, writes blogs and provides consultancy for fairs and so on.

Twinings Japan has secured Ms Sako as an ambassador, to raise awareness of the UK’s teatime culture on its Facebook page. Each month she describes a different British treat and how it may be enjoyed with Twinings tea.

Similarly, she is working with Wedgwood Japan to promote its range of English bone china as part of an authentic British teatime.

A promoter at the British Fair in the Hankyu Department Store Osaka’s Umeda branch, Ms Sako will this year team up with Kensington Palace as part of the fair’s 50th anniversary. On 11th-17th October, she will join pastry chefs from the palace to make and present Victoria sponge cakes to the crowds.

And, on 5th October, her new book British Country Pudding will be published by Kodansha.

 “These days, it’s rare to get a recipe book published because people are finding everything they need online but, as I got the Gourmand award and the BBA, I was invited to write this one,” she said. “I’m delighted that it will showcase delicious yet unknown sweets from rural areas, such as Snowdon Pudding and College Pudding.

 The book is particularly special for Ms Sako because it features recipes taught to her by one of her Berkshire neighbours, who passed away in August 2017. 

 “On my last visit, he gave me his recipes, which were so important to him. I want to continue introducing them to Japanese people. He gave me so much support and he was the happiest person of all that I had won a BBA,” she said.

 For Ms Sako, seeing her Entrepreneur of the Year award every day is the inspiration and recognition she needs to keep going even when times get tough. Despite high rents and the difficulty of finding premises from her base in Osaka, her next goal is to set up a baking school in central Tokyo.


Produced by Sterling Content for the BCCJ