A Devon father and daughter have launched a whole new range of products in hopes of changing the way people enjoy chillies.
Focusing on flavor rather than heat alone, Gary and Annie-Mae Tomlins have created their own line of chili sauces and purees that can be added to meals.
They make the perfect team because Gary is a very experienced farmer and Annie-Mae is a college-educated flavor scientist.
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After two years, their fermented chilli test and taste trials culminated in the launch of start-up Feisty Foods offering six new products to their HATARI Chilli Sauces range, including their Rum Hatari Hooch.
Hatari means ‘danger’ in Kiswahili – the language of Tanzania – where Gary rents land to grow and export peppers and vegetables to Europe.
Feisty Foods products are bottled in Devon with chillies exclusively grown in Tanzania and Senegal.
Gary and Annie-Mae combined their expertise and said they tested over 60 types of peppers to get the right products.
“There’s a fantastic range out there, and people don’t usually associate chili peppers with flavor – everyone just thinks of heat,” Gary said.
“It hasn’t been our adventure at all. Our adventure has been the flavor.”
“We don’t like to mess with our peppers. We like to respect them for the wonderful fruity vegetables they are as well as the heat they can provide,” Annie-Mae added.
“Many of them [in other brands] contain garlic or onion powder – obviously those are great flavors – but the chilies we found and chose bring all of that on their own,” she said.
The chilies used in the couple’s products are grown in Africa and unlike some other types on the market, they are picked very ripe to produce the best flavor.
The duo work closely with Africans to produce the chillies, which Gary says has several benefits at home and abroad.
“Because we’ve partnered with these farms, we can say exactly what we want,” he said.
“We’ve chosen the varieties of peppers, and we’re also saying ‘we want them grown that way’ and ‘we’re going to pick them at this point as well’. So that means we can be a lot more confident in what is coming.”
Gary said working in this way also helps put money back into rural communities and also supports those they know in Africa.
“The other big thing about our product is that the amount of fruit in our sauces is considerably higher than what you’ll find in many other sauces on supermarket shelves,” he said.
“Because we go direct and because we exchange directly, it does not go through any intermediary.
“No one else there is making a profit – the money can go straight back to the communities and people involved.
“Plus, it allows us to put in more fruit – we don’t have to skimp.”
“A better, more delicious product,” added Annie-Mae.
Gary said that through their products the couple also hope to help inspire young Africans to get involved in agriculture and they are both excited about the growth potential of the business.
“This is the very beginning, we hope, of a long and exciting journey,” Annie-Mae said. “We have big ambitions.
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