Meet the Maker - Hot Sauce Club | Subscription Hot Sauce
November 13, 2015

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Whether it be topical news, recipes or interviews with hot sauce producers, check back to our blog for the latest goings on in the chilli world.

Our subscription box contains a selection of hot sauces and fiery treats from the UK for £15 per month

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Love Pickle? We do!

We just can;t get enough of the Hot Pickle included in the November subscription box. As such we were very excited to sit down with Michael from love-pickle.co.uk to get to know their back story and pick up a few tips along the way.

 

Love Pickle - Hot Pickle

 

Michael, like many in the food industry your story starts in the City. What was the moment where you decided to that you wanted to fully commit to the food industry? Was this a difficult decision for you?

It was when I realised the full potentiality of the product and positioning it in the market.  Making a decision to leave a career in the City after many years is never easy, particularly when embarking on a venture into the unknown.  However, the challenge of launching a food product based on a family recipe was very exciting.
 

We've tried a couple of pickles from the range and in this months subscription box includes you Extra Hot Pickle. What's your own heat threshold like and which of your range best represents your taste?

My favourite is the Extra Hot as it is the perfect balance of flavour and heat for my taste, all the flavour with a slow rising of heat.  I have quite a high threshold for chilli but flavour must not be compromised. It's why the Extra Hot is a multi award winner!
 

Love Pickle is manufactured in the UK using local suppliers but your pickle maintain origins in India. How did you go about developing this range?  

The chilli tomato pickle and the tamarind chutney are based on a family recipe and are handmade using traditional methods to capture the authenticity of the products.  The brand is positioned for the premium market, the packaging, range and quality of the products have been developed for this target market.
 

Congratulations of the range of awards you've picked up included Great Taste Awards and the National Chilli Award. It must have been great to receive such validation so early in to a young venture. What has been the proudest or most exciting moment for you so far?  

Thank you!  The awards (5 out of 6 products) are a tremendous achievement for a small business and brings a valuable element of credibility to the range of products.  The journey so far has produced many proud moments from fantastic consumer feedback to getting both products listed with British Airways First and Business Class flights to India, seeing the product on a shelf in Selfridges and getting the first repeat order.  Most exciting moment has to be pitching to BA and getting the nod.
 

What words of advice would you offer for anyone wishing to start off in a similar path? Have their been any major pitfalls or hurdles?  

Not sure I'm the right person to offer advice!  First and foremost you need to have a great product with a wow factor, packaging and branding are important but will not make any difference if your product is average.  Have a solid business plan (3 year) with clearly defined objectives, targets and timelines, review every 6 months and understand performance drivers.  Ensure there is adequate financial resources in place to develop and sustain business as it begins to grow.  Invest in NPD and think strategically, next 12, 24 months.  Have a vision and understand and accept that you are responsible to generate business.
 
There are always pitfalls and hurdles in any business and apart from the main issues such as business sustainability, lack of funding, cash flow etc., I would advise to deliver on customer satisfaction every time and do not compromise on quality whether that is product or service.
 

Must Chup - Grown Up Table Sauces

We first came across Must-Chup at the Fiery Foods Festival and since then their sauces have been a staple in our kitchen. 

 

 


Andrew Must-Chup

The November subscription box sees the inclusion of the spiciest sauce in their range the 'Big Kick'. We sat down with co-creator, Andrew to get the low down on how Must-Chup came to be.

When did you first realise you had a talent as a saucier and when did you make the leap in to producing a commercial range?

I have always been involved with food working in the hospitality industry for over 25 years including as a Chef in Switzerland. I also loved Ketchup as a child however wanted it to be healthier for you. After celebrating my 50th birthday with my twin brother Mark I saw a gap in the market for a mustard and fresh tomato Ketchup. Hence Must Chup was born back in 2013.
Last year our customers were demanding a range of sauces, so on trend with the Ketchup market I decided to create two with Chilli; 'Kick' with Jalapeno which has a gentle heat and 'Big Kick' with more intense heat using habanero chilli

To our subscribers who are trying your sauce for the first time, there will be the obvious temptation to do as we did and finish the bottle in one sitting with bread and cheese. Being such a versatile sauce, can you share some of your favourite ways to enjoy it?

Must Chup SauceMust Chup is indeed very versatile. I love marinating fish and various meats for the BBQ season like salmon, steak and chicken throughout the Summer months or using it as a side sauce with sausages and burgers. It is also great as an ingredient to spice up your bolognaise or include within your chicken casserole. I have even added it to tomato soup which is amazing.
Throughout the winter months any slow cooked stew with a dollop of Must Chup creates a new dimension to the dish. I also have a number of vegetarian friends who use it with vegetable bakes (Must Chup is both gluten free and vegetarian friendly).


We loved all of the sauces in your range, but are excited to see what you might come up with next. Can you share any insights in to what you are working on or would like to try in the future?

The most popular request is for an extra hot Must Chup. So it maybe called Must Chup 'Extra Kick' perhaps using scotch bonnet chilli. I am also considering a range of dressings with mustard as a base which of course could include chilli.

Last but not least, outside of your range what is your favourite chilli product available in the UK - and what makes it so special?

I really don't have a favourite however I always enjoy those that have a good balance between flavour and heat. I like to be able to taste all of the elements of the sauce whether it is sweetness, fruitiness and chilli flavour. There are a number of chilli sauces that have too much vinegar in them making them too acidic.

SideKick Sauce - New Kids on the Block

This week we spend some time with James from Sidekick sauce to find out how he made the jump from finance to fiery food and learn about the secret of the SideKick Chilli Sauces notable creaminess.

We understand SideKick Sauce has been a ­­few years in the making. What drew you ­t­o the chilli business and what was the­ t­urning point when you decided to turn­ th­is passion in to a business?

James Sidekick Chilli SauceI got into it through my chilli-addictio­­n, a tendency to experiment in the kitc­h­en and a desire to work for myself.  I­ s­tarted making my own hot sauces back ­in ­2010 when I tried to remember a lost­ pir­i-piri recipe. Unsurprisingly I end­ed up­ using the wrong ingredients and q­uantit­ies - but that turned out to be v­1 of ou­r Original Zingy Pepper hot sauc­e.  Word­ spread amongst friends and f­a­mily when I started giving it away in C­­hristmas hampers.  Things began to snowb­­all and the turning point was last year­ ­when I finally decided to quit my job ­as­ a Finance Manager and pursue my drea­ms!­  I now realise the importance of yo­ur h­eart being truly in to what you do ­each ­day.

We were particularly impressed with the ­­creaminess of your sauces and the notabl­e­ exclusion of Xantham Gum from your re­ci­pes. Can you share the process you we­nt ­through to develop this range?

Sidekick Sauce ProductionAbsolutely - we aim to always give an au­­dacious flavour kick without ever using­ ­artificial additives or things you wou­ld­n’t recognise.  This really stems fro­m m­e being an average guy with an inter­est ­in food and what goes into it. I t­hink ­the concern for what one really ea­ts is ­a growing trend that will only go­ in one­ direction.  I mean does the ave­rage per­son know what xantham gum actua­lly is? O­r potassium sorbate, or citric­ acid?  Ob­viously they’re safe to eat, ­but persona­lly I’d rather eat things th­at I actuall­y recognise and understand.­  Now, keepin­g this promise brings vari­ous challenges­.  For example making our­ hot sauces req­uires small batches - th­e creaminess com­es from emulsifying in ­rapeseed oil, whi­ch works better in sma­ller quantities with­ the right balance ­of ingredients and mo­isture.

Since launch we've seen you at a few chi­­lli festivals, where your product has g­o­ne down a storm. In this months subscr­ip­tion box we have included the hottest­ sa­uce in your range, the Screaming Pep­per ­Sauce but which other Sidekick sauc­e has­ been most popular?

The Screaming Pepper was only meant to b­­e a festival one-off but it has been ou­r­ top seller so far which I definitely ­wa­sn’t expecting, so it now sits firmly­ in­ our core range!  Our Original Zingy­ Pep­per hot sauce and Hot Tom ketchup h­ave a­lso been in strong demand and thes­e two ­have always been the favourites a­mongst ­friends and family.

Sidekick Hot Sauce Range

Last but not least, what sauce or chilli product (outside of­­ the SideKick range) is a staple in you­r­ kitchen and why?

That’s such a revealing question!  My st­­aple hot sauce of choice always changed­ ­a lot over the years but my most recen­t favouri­te, up until I started looking­ closely a­t additives, was Cholula whic­h I still t­hink tastes delicious. 

One ­sauce you wi­ll always see in my fridge these days is­ Thai fish sauce which is ­so pungent yet­ gives such magical resul­ts - a dash add­ed to lime juice, chilli­, sugar and a gl­ug of oil gives the mos­t wonderful dippi­ng sauce or dressing!

Spicy Rubs from Spicentice

With the inclusion of their delicious Harissa rub in the September hot sauce box we caught up with the team at Spicentice.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about Spicentice, what made you get in to the business and how did it start out?

Take one hungry student, a bunch of other hungry students and a handful of mum’s specially blended herbs and spices and you have the story of Spicentice!

Ketan VaruBack in 1994 when founder, Ketan Varu, was at university, his mum sent him recipes and spices to make real Indian curries that would remind him of home. Pretty soon all his friends were hooked and the idea for Spicentice was born.

All these years later Spice 'N' tice is very much a family business (with mum, Manjula, and dad, Ramnik, still making sure Ketan eats a good lunch!) and the range has grown to include Indian, Thai, Jamaican, Moroccan, Portuguese, Cajun and Mexican spice kits, along with herb & spice rubs in handy tins and real Indian fruit chutneys.

Spicentice stands out from the crowd because of its commitment to traditional recipes that have been perfected over generations, with 100% pure herbs & spices, no waste and absolutely no nasties! Cooking and sharing a meal using our spice kits or rubs will impress your family and friends (and make Ketan’s mum very happy!).

 

Tell us a little bit about the Harissa rub featuring in this month's box and what it is that makes it so special.

Harissa RubSuch a tasty chilli heat to this classic Harissa blend, perfect for rubbing into meat, fish and veggies before roasting. Make your own delicious Harissa paste by mixing the rub with oil, crushed garlic, tomato puree and lemon juice - you'll never buy ready-made paste again! We love a little rub mixed with oil and vinegar, drizzled on roasted vegetable cous cous. Try Harissa paste mixed with butter and breadcrumbs before stuffing under the skin of a chicken breast before roasting, it's delicious.

 

Outside of your own products, what chilli sauce / rub keeps you coming back for more?

Ketans dad Ramnik - whose recipes our products are based on, has always been a keen chilli grower. At his home, he grows a variety of Chillies from seeds in his greenhouse. These include Friars Hats, Jalapeno, Joes Long Cane, Hungarian Wax, Dorset Naga & Ancho - then when they are fully grown, he harvest them & makes delicious curries, relishes & sauces - these are the best outside of our own products & a very worthy of a mention here.

Bim's Kitchen - African Inspired Hot Sauces

African style hot sauces from Wales?? That's right and they are brilliant! With the inclusion of the award winning Sweet African Tigernut and Chilli Sauce in our September subscription box we spent some time getting to know the team behind this fiery treat.

Bim's Kitchen Hot Sauce

Can you tell us a little bit about your back story, how Bim's kitchen came to be and where your inspiration came from?

Bim's Hot SauceBim’s Kitchen is the creation of James “Bim” and Nicola Adedeji. All our products are original, modern recipes that we’ve created from a wide range of fantastic ingredients either from or widely used in Africa like baobab fruit, tigernuts, moringa, peanuts, cashew nuts, tamarind, alligator pepper and hibiscus to name a few. Some of our recipes are inspired by the ingredients themselves or their properties. Others have been inspired by traditional African dishes- our very popular African Peanut and Tomato & Cashew Curry Sauces, for example, were inspired by delicious peanut stews which are eaten in many West African countries.

“Bim” is short for my Nigerian name ‘Abimbola’ and I lived in Nigeria as a child where I first learnt about and tasted many of the ingredients we now use in our range. After mastering many of my favourite traditional recipes as I grew up, I discovered that my real passion was for finding new and creative ways of using ingredients that many people overlooked or used in a very limited way. That passion and curiosity led to us creating the first chilli jam and BBQ sauces with baobab fruit which are now amongst our best selling products.

You spend a lot of time on the road at food festivals and farmers markets, which has been your favourite so far this year and why?

We love attending food festivals across the country as it’s a very direct way to get feedback about our range and attract new customers. We moved from London to north Wales last year and so this year we have been concentrating on events in our new area. So far this year, the best event we’ve attended has got to be the Menai Seafood Festival which took place last month. Being our very first at the event we did not know what to expect but we were genuinely blown away by the enthusiasm for our products and the number of new customers attracted.

The Sweet African Tigernut and Chilli Sauce has just won a coveted Great Taste Awards, firstly congratulations; can you tell us how you developed this sauce and what makes it so special? 

Tigernut - Bim's KitchenI am particularly proud of this sauce because it is the first commercial product we have made with the tigernut - a highly nutritional but little known and very underrated food product in the UK. Its success has also paved the way for some other new products that use tigernuts in more creative ways- a savoury relish and a nut butter.

Tigernut Hot SauceTigernuts are not actually “nuts” at all but tasty tubers which are: high in fibre, proteins, rich in minerals such as phosphorous, potassium, magnesium. They grow in many African countries and in the Valencia region of Spain. As kids in Nigeria we just used to eat them as a tasty snack and no more. The flavour of tigernuts have variously been described as like coconut, hazelnuts, cobb nuts or chestnuts and I’ve discovered they complement a lot of savoury ingredients beautifully. The tigernut is an ingredient I’ve long wanted to introduce into the Bim’s Kitchen range so we’re thrilled customers seem to love the new recipes. The Great Taste Award for the first product was the icing on the cake!

Finally, the most difficult question of all - if you had to pick a favourite sauce other than your own - what would you pick?

This is genuinely a difficult one! We have been privileged to meet a lot of absolutely fantastic small producers who make delicious hot sauces we’d be happy to make ourselves. We regularly swap products with other producers when we meet at events. At the moment we are currently working our way through some our favourites from Simply Relish, The Chilli Alchemist, Sabor de Amor, Mushemi Fire, Grim Reaper, Mr Vikkis, L'ail Olive, Wiltshire Chilli Farm and Posh Pickles.

Epic Snax – Daring to be Different

If you haven't yet tried the Epic Snax Naga Popcorn from the August subscription box, do it; do it now! We grabbed some time with the team to find out how this wonderful creation came to be.

 

HOW DID EPIC SNAX COME TO BE?

Epic Snax Chilli Popcorn TubEpic Snax came about in 2012 but not originally as popcorn. John and John from Petty Wood set out on a quest to develop a chilli sauce with the aid of James Moulson, an experienced development chef. James created some brilliant sauces for the John’s to try and so they paid him a visit with keen interest. James explained that the best way for them to try the sauces was to cook plain popcorn kernels and mix them into the sauce. Once John and John tried the Naga Chilli sauce on the popcorn they realised that in their hands was a better product than the sauce they were originally looking for and therefore Epic Snax was born!

 

TELL US ABOUT THE NAGA POPCORN IN THIS MONTH’S SUBSCRIPTION BOX – WHAT MAKES THIS POPCORN SO SPECIAL?

This Naga Chilli popcorn is unlike any other popcorn on the market, it hasn’t just got a sprinkle of chilli to add a kick, this is seriously hot! We spent a long time developing how to best transfer heat and flavour in this popcorn and move it on from its saucy beginnings. What Epic Snax offers in the Naga Chilli popcorn is a buttery taste with a gradual build of heat, it isn’t going to ruin your taste buds after the first piece but offers chilli lovers a moreish snack, which is truly Epic.

 

YOU SPEND A LOT OF YOUR TIME ON THE ROAD AT FESTIVALS! CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE FESTIVAL THIS SEASON?

Naga Popcorn CampervanYes, the Epic Camper has been pretty well travelled this summer! We have been to Cheese and Chilli festivals in the South and other events but our favourite festival so far was Boardmasters Festival in Newquay. It was great to see people enjoying a fresh tub of Epic Snax in the sunshine, taking in some amazing music! The Epic Camper is well loved so people really enjoyed seeing that around the site! It’s great being able to offer so many people a chance to try your product, especially when you get the chance to surprise them with unusual flavours such as Naga Chilli and Peanut Butter, people love trying something new!

 

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE HOT SAUCE/ CHILLI PRODUCT, APART FROM YOUR OWN?

Our favourite hot sauce has got to be Mr Singh’s Hot Punjabi Chilli Sauce; it can be used as a dip, cooking sauce or marinade and really delivers on taste as well as heat. We’ve followed the brand on social media and they seem like a great family with some great products.

Chilliqueen

The Extra Hot Chilli Jelly featured in August's Hot Sauce Club subscription box was produced by Chilliqueen, perhaps one of the longest running chilli businesses in the UK. 

The history of the company and of this particular product is very interesting, we reached out to the team for the back story.

In 1995 during a trip to Florida, Lee Everett, ex-wife of Kenny Everett and her husband John, tasted a chilli jelly at a business reception. Back in the UK she spent months experimenting to replicate the wonderful flavour they had experienced.

chilliqueen chilli jellyIt was a long learning curve as the secret of the flavour was Scotch Bonnet Chillies and at that time they were very rare and not readily available. Eventually they were tracked down in the Caribbean section of Shepherds Bush market in London. Fifteen years later Scotch Bonnet are available in supermarkets and have almost become a staple ingredient in the UK. From then on whenever Lee cooked a batch, family and friends simply took it away! It was clear Lee was onto something so together with husband John, they began production in a small cottage industry way to supply the local village shop, pub and restaurant. They called the company “Chilliqueen” the nickname Kenny Everett had given Lee years before.

Things grew from there and in April 2000 the first commercial run was produced under the auspices of the English Provender Company. After EPC was purchased by Billingtons, production was moved to other suitable manufacturers.

Over the following years Chilliqueen's jellies garnered three Gold awards and a Silver at the Great Taste Awards. In 2015 it again won gold for the Coriander & Shallot chilli jelly.

Chilli Queen Extra HotEstablished in 1998 Chilliqueen can rightly claim to be the oldest independent chilli based condiment manufacturer in the UK. The “Extra Hot” Chilliqueen jelly included in the August Hot Sauce Club box was actually brought about by Elton John, a lover of spicy food who requested a hotter version of the “Original”. Over the years it has become one of the best sellers in the range, although we are thinking hard about what to call it when we re-print the labels. Over the last decade the UK palette has become more used to hotter and hotter ingredients so “Extra Hot” is no longer apt!

The Upton Cheyney Chilli Company

As contributors of two very fine hot sauces to our August subscription, we spent some time to catch up with Alex and Louise from the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company.

 

How did the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company come to be? 

After working in the family ‘printing ink’ business since the age of 12, Alex had come to a stage in life where the smell of ink and the constant whining of lithographic printers had become too much. He saw an opportunity to start an IBC tank recycling business (Toucan Environmental) and in 2007 somehow managed to persuade David Hawking of Manor Farm, Upton Cheyney to let him rent some yard space.

Alex soon got roped in to helping move the animals and realised a passion for farming. It was at this stage that he asked David if he could put up a poly tunnel and grow some chillies. David kinda laughed and thought it was all a bit mad but we agreed and the Upton Cheyney Chilli Company was born in the winter of 2008. 

Alex_Upton_Cheyney_Chilli_CompanyAt this stage it was not really a business. Just a bit of fun. Sure enough though people started to visit and we held our first chilli festival on a lovely sunny day in August 2008. 500 people attended. Whiz forward to the present and it’s been a really rather exciting journey, as the chilli company has flourished and expanded to a total of 12,000 sq/ft of poly-tunnel space. We have enjoyed winning numerous awards, as well as appearing on Country File and Blue Peter. We are one of the few chilli farms in the country and take great pride in what we do. This year’s chilli festival is expected to attract 10,000 people. All from a crazy idea that was born out of an escape from the printing industry!



 

 

 



 

  If Jim Morrison was alive today he would no doubt knock it back in one!

 

Tell us about the sauces in this month’s subscription box – the Mango, Lime and Red Habanero Sauce and The End. What makes these sauces special?

The Mango and Lime has won numerous awards (Great Taste Gold and Taste of the West Gold). It is a very fresh, crisp tasting sauce with a double kick of flavours. The first kick is a citrus whack followed shortly after by the chilli rush. It’s a medium heat sauce that is delicious with cheese.

The End is the hottest sauce in our range and is a Jim Morrison of The Doors tribute sauce. Alex is a massive Doors fan and the tribute sauce seemed fitting. There are numerous reasons why The End relates to Jim Morrison and The Doors – some on the label, some in the ingredients and others more carefully hidden within the packaging! Based on carrots and onions and without any sugar, the Ghost Pepper gives a super warm but not unpleasant burn, exacerbated by the Jack Daniels Bourbon. It’s a lovely thick sauce that we use to add flavor to Chilli Con Carne. Its great for dipping chips into as well and if Jim Morrison was alive today he would no doubt knock it back in one!

 

You run your own Upton Cheyney Chilli Festival! Can you tell us a bit about it – how long has it been running and what are the plans for this year?

 The festival is in its 7th year and was voted the best chilli festival of 2014 by the Peoples Vote run by the Clifton Chilli Club. It’s a festival of chilli fun with lots of music and kids entertainment. We have secured Sicknote Steve and The Wurzels for this years event.

Upton Cheyney Chilli Festival

 

What’s your favourite hot sauce/ chilli product, apart from your own? 

 I have so many favourite hot sauces! I think The Philosophers Dew from the Chilli Alchemist has got to be one of my all-time favorites – mainly because it is so very different!  

Ladle and Larder


This week we take some time out to speak with Carrie, owner and chutney expert of Ladle and Larder fame. The July hot sauce subscription boxes include one of their most delicious offering, the Scotch Bonnet Chilli Chutney.

Before Ladle and Larder, you used to work in the city. What was it that got you in to this business?

 

Maltby Street Market - CarrieI think like many people, after uni I came to London and just "fell" into a career. I enjoyed the world of Online Marketing to begin with but after 6 years of climbing the career ladder I took a step back & asked myself "is this really the path I want to take"?

I grew up within a family run business which my father chaired up until recently when my brother took over the reigns. Despite having the opportunity to enter the business I was more driven to start my own venture, I just wasn’t quite sure which industry/product route to follow.

It was the Christmas of 2012 when the eureka moment came. I was struggling with gift ideas so thought that I would make family/friends hampers filled with homemade treats. The chutneys went down a storm and people were asking where they could buy more, not realising I had in fact made them. The eureka moment had arrived! I really enjoyed the process of making the products and creating something tangible that people loved, Ladle and Larder was born!

 

"If he dared to bring any other hot sauce into our flat his life probably wouldn't be worth living!"

 

Tell us about your business - how long has it been running, other products, what makes you different?

My business has been going for 2 years now & is still run out of my flat in South East London. The thing that makes Ladle & Larder stand out is the products versatility, we aim to dispel the myth that chutneys are only eaten with cheese boards. Our range of flavours compliment any plate whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner and the products can even be incorporated into the cooking process.

Currently there are 6 flavours in the range with a Christmas chutney available to buy from October through to December. I'm going to be experimenting with some new flavours in the new year & may also look to expand into other types of condiments in the near future.

 

Can you tell us about the chilli chutney in this months subscription? Where did the recipe come from and what makes the chutney so special?

The Scotch Bonnet Chilli Chutney continues to be my best seller & it is also the most versatile - it works as a fantastic marinade, tastes great added to a Stir Fry or Chilli & can be a great 'hot' substitute for the good old cupboard classic, ketchup. My fiancé stands testament to the ketchup comment, as he literally has it with everything……he’s a big chilli fan!

 

I know your sauces are loving crafted at home, can you talk to us about your production?

Ladle and Larder - KitchenI usually start prepping the veg/fruit early in the morning so I can get my 3 large pans bubbling away as early as possible. All of this takes place in our conservatory with the doors & windows wide open so the powerful smell of vinegar & onions escape the rest of the flat ... & in particular my fiances work shirts which according to him "have never quite smelled the same" since I started! Once ready the jars are sterilized in my new & much loved dishwasher before being dried in the oven & filled with the hot chutney.

 

What's your favourite hot sauce/hot sauce product, apart from your own?

This is a tricky question to answer because I have to be honest, I can't bring myself to buy any other hot sauce as it feels like I'm "cheating" on my baby Ladle & Larder ... my fiance also knows that if he dared to bring any other hot sauce into our flat his life probably wouldn't be worth living! Although not a hot sauce, I have to say I am partial to some wasabi peas with a nice glass of wine of an evening. My parents recently brought some fiery little numbers back from France & they were out of this world.

Chilli Pepper Pete

With the inclusion of Dragon's Blood Fruity in this months subscription box, we hope to provide a little insight in to the goings on at Chilli Pepper Pete and in particular a bit of background on this tasty fruity sauce. Company director Miranda has stepped in to provide a sneak behind the curtain.

 

How did Chilli Pepper Pete Ltd come to be?

When my husband, Peter Seymour, and I started Chilli Pepper Pete in 2002 most people approached chilli with extreme trepidation.  However, 15 years on, we have built up a growing customer base, all clamouring for the tastiest and the hottest chilli products we offer.   

Chilli Pepper PeteWe had already been using different chilli varieties in our ready-cooked frozen meals (The B.Right.On Food Co) and selling the surplus dried chillies so we knew that there was an interest out there so we set out to educate consumers at farmers’ markets and food fairs.  Gradually, we saw a change – people stopped saying they were scared of chillies and started to tell us how much they loved chillies but couldn’t find anything tasty enough and hot enough!  We were happy to oblige and Dragon’s Blood was born. 

Chilli Pepper Pete Ltd boasts many 'firsts' in the world of chillies - first to bring the Naga Ghost Chilli from Nagaland to the UK, Europe & USA. We also introduced the UK's first extreme heat sauce, Dragon's Blood, now a cult amongst chilli lovers and our major seller. 

Our aim from the outset has been to educate people in the joys of chilli as well as encouraging other like-minded companies to join the chilli community.  For this reason, we set up the Fiery Foods UK Chilli Festival.  Now in its seventh year, the Fiery Foods UK Chilli-Eating Contest (replicated around the UK) has featured on a number of TV programmes: 'Pleasure & Pain with Michael Mosley' (BBC1, Jan 2011), 'All You Can Eat' (ITV, March 2012) and the FFUK Amateur Sauce Contest as seen on BBC's 'Country Cook-Off' with celebrity chefs Valentine Warner and Ed Baines.  Chilli Pepper Pete Ltd has won the National Chilli Awards Best UK Chilli Company 2010, 2011 & 2012.  Chilli Pepper Pete Ltd sold the show this year and it promises to be a wonderful legacy of the UK’s top chilli company. 

Chilli Pepper Pete was also the first company to open a shop dedicated to chillies, originally in 2009 at The Brighton Marina before moving to central Brighton in 2011.  It quickly became the Mecca for chilliheads with a national and international clientele.  The shop was sold in 2014 but continues to trade as a thriving chilli shop. 

Sadly, in August 2012 Peter Seymour died, and after much soul-searching regarding the way forward, I decided to give the company a radical shake-up and, hopefully, take Chilli Pepper Pete Ltd from a 'cottage industry' to a mainstream retail supplier.  To this end, the first task was to re-brand our six best sauces under the name of our best-selling product, Dragon's Blood. Not only is this particular sauce iconic in its own right but, since the re-branding, has become the key ingredient in the unique “Dragon’s Fury” sausage and “Dragon’s Egg” Scotch Egg.  These products are the brainchild of Paul Turner of Alf Turner Butchers Ltd.  Paul Turner won the money of celebrity entrepreneur Peter Jones of the BBC TV’s “Dragon’s Den” where businesses pitch their idea for an investment from the Dragons.  It was entirely appropriate that Paul Turner should win the investment with a product using our Dragon’s Blood Original Mega Hot Sauce.  Since then, his two main Dragon’s products are in all the major supermarkets with very attractive projections for the next two years.  We also supply a Dragon’s Blood Spice Blend to Black Country Snacks who produce Alf Turner Pork Scratchings. There is further product development in the pipeline, with negotiations taking place with a major chicken processor/retailer. 

Chilli Pepper Pete Ltd continues to forge good relationships with chilli suppliers, particularly with Naga Ghost Chilli growers in Nagaland, the home of the Naga chilli.  We work directly with the farmers in Nagaland to ensure a fair price for their product.  

 

Can you talk a little more about Dragon's Blood Fruity. As I remember this started life as Sting in the Tail. What bought around the change of name?

The Dragon's Blood Fruity was one of the first that we made many many years ago, even before we became Chilli Pepper Pete.  Most of our sauces have evolved both in ingredients and in name, and this one became Sting in the Tail, using our own home-grown Trinidad Scorpion chillies before anyone knew what a TS was!  However, with the difficulty of having supplies all year round, we ended up using Habaneros, whose fruitiness complemented the mangoes that we use. It was one of our bestsellers that became part of the Dragon's Blood brand and it remains a consistent bestseller.

Our production method is basic - small batches, best ingredients, checking flavour as we go along, and then bottle as hot as possible followed by pasteurisation to ensure a longer 12 month shelf life. Simple!

A review of Dragons Blood Mango by the Clifton Chilli Society (not affiliated with hotsauceclub.co.uk)

 

Thanks Miranda to finish with, it's the question everyone hates to answer but can you tell us about your favourite hot sauce that's not your own?

My fave hot sauce other than our own, is a big brand I'm afraid to say - Patak's mixed chilli pickle.  The sourness is addictive, and the heat is just right. I can't get enough of it - I love the Karamda in it too!