Simply Relish 01 Oct 2010 08:31 pm

Guest Post, from Ann of Simply Relish:

In what I hope will be an ongoing series, Sloe-Gin of the BBC and Wildfood forums, has agreed to write a Guest Blog for me. So with no further ado, I hand you over to the lovely Ann of Simply Relish:

So, how did you win that award?

I would be far richer if I had a pound for every time I were asked this!

There is a short answer (because my customers don’t want to hang around to listen to the long one!)

“I entered it in the Great Taste Awards, run by the Guild of Fine Foods. They’re the Oscars of the Food Industry.” Good, they’re happy, they’re tasting and – oh joy – they’re buying! That little black and gold sticker’s worth its weight in – well, Gold.

The long answer is very different. If it were not, everyone would be sporting those coveted little blighters!

I started in 2007, selling the odd jar of Piccalilli, but it was no ‘get rich quick’ formula. I began experimenting. My dear husband duly tasted everything I put in front of him and his face said it all. The bin became full.

Then one day, I casually said, ‘Try this!’ His eyes lit up. ‘You’re onto a winner there,’ he said. I was eventually to prove him right. I made batch after batch of my Sweet Chilli Sauce with a little more of this/a little less of that. I was happy – it tasted good – to my palate. It was then out to my small, but trusty band of tasters, who all came back with enthusiastic comments – but I hadn’t even heard of the Guild of Fine Food by this time! I was a blithely ignorant goldfish swimming in a pool of beautiful successful carp, if only I had known.

In March 2008, I somehow managed to find the website of the Guild of Fine Food – it must have been fate! The closing date was close – a week’s time. I boxed up my sample and sent it off. Then I sat back to wait. In fact, I forgot about it and went on holiday to France. Sitting by the pool, I received a surreal call; you’ve won a Gold award, please can you send a further sample by Wednesday, so we can determine whether you have a one, two or three star award.

Erm, no. I have no stock and no staff and I’m in France for at least another week – so probably no little precious sticker either. But how kind were they to me? They let me submit my sample when I’d got home and awarded me 2 stars. How good was that?

My little business was still that – a little business, with just me and a willing volunteer at times- my husband.

However, I wasn’t deterred and I started thinking about my next entry immediately. Off I went into the realms of flavour matching, consistency and presentation. This time, I submitted my Chilli Jam and my Sweet Chilli Sauce again, ever hopeful if those elusive 3 stars. We even made sure we didn’t go away at the crucial weeks, but they’d changed the system anyway. Both won a 1 star award.

I started, yet again, to think of my 2010 entry and devised my ‘Hot Sweet ‘n Sour Sauce’. Out it went to tasters and to customers and, bless its little heart, it won a Gold Star for me. It wasn’t the only entry I submitted, but it’s the only one I’m telling you about!

I’m well under way with testing and development for 2011. All my customers are tasting, giving feedback and, unbeknown to them, helping me decide what to enter next year. And who knows, maybe I’ll win another award. But, even if I don’t, I’m having fun and my customers, bless them, are certainly enjoying the fruits of my labours!

I’m still a small business – I prefer to think of it ‘exclusive’ rather than small! I rather like it like that!

Winning awards isn’t a piece of cake. More like being in a pickle!

5 Responses to “Guest Post, from Ann of Simply Relish:”

  1. on 02 Oct 2010 at 9:14 am 1.gillthepainter said …

    That’s no small accomplishment your winning golds Ann.
    I’ve submitted once at the marmalade festival and they shave off points for anything less that perfection.

    Nice one.

  2. on 04 Oct 2010 at 11:15 am 2.Karadekoolaid said …

    A great success story, Ann! how very satisfying to know your creativity has produced some first class products!
    Any plans to expand the biz and get the items in the Supermarkets?

  3. on 04 Oct 2010 at 11:32 am 3.simplyrelish said …

    Thanks Gill – Gold next year for you at the marmalade festival! At least you know what it is they’re looking for now.

    Clive, no plans to expand; I want to keep it small. I know you’ve made the jump to big producer, as have some of my contemporaries here, but feel it’s not for me – when I’m too old to make chutneys in quantity, I’ll sell it and then it might change.

  4. on 04 Oct 2010 at 11:38 am 4.puss-in-boots said …

    What a truly excellent write up about your start and continued success Ann, hope you have many more gold awards and many more chutneys and relishes too. Well done.

  5. on 07 Oct 2010 at 7:39 pm 5.Belgian Endive said …

    I can easily believe the gold star Ann! A few days ago I was meeting up in Oxford with Gill who delivered your package of chutneys and preserved lemons. Yesterday I prepared salmon which was marinated first in fresh ginger, coriander, evoo, soya & white wine and I put slices of your preserved lemon on top and then put them in foil in the oven. They were delightful! The chutneys will be up for trial in a while! Well done on getting your awards! Elisa

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