One of the best things about writing Gerry's Kitchen is that I've been able to meet some incredibly talented local producers and sample the fantastic products that they have poured their heart and soul into. More importantly, by writing my '5 Questions' posts, I've been able to provide a little insight into what goes on behind the scenes.
After publishing an article about Sarah Redman and her business, Creeside Charcuterie a couple of months ago, Sarah informed me that one of her friends was also a producer and that she would likely be keen to have her own business story told on Gerry's Kitchen.
The business in question was Galloway Chillies run by Sheena Horner. Based in Scotland's National Book Town of Wigtown near Newton Stewart, Sheena spices things up by growing a wide variety of chilli plants (at least 35 varieties planned for this years harvest) which are painstakingly made into delicious chilli jam.
Unfortunately Sheena doesn't sell Galloway Chillies products in my own local area (yet?), however by using the wonders of social media, I was able to make contact with Sheena and we arranged for Creeside Charcuterie to bring a jar of chilli jam to the Christmas Farmers market at Clarkston. Who says that social media can't connect businesses?
Here's Galloway Chillies story;
How did you get started?
I have always loved chillies and use them lots in cooking but got frustrated by the choice available in the area. So I started growing my own and then made the fatal mistake of buying a poly tunnel at the Royal Highland Show this year. The rest they say is history.
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
Take things slowly if you can and gauge the interest in your product(s). I even gave away free samples of my chilli jam to get peoples honest feedback. Oh and believe in yourself and of course enjoy what you do.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
Oh now that a toughie. I have just started out and I’m also in full time employment so possibly leaving my job or at least going part time to run a profitable business.
If you could only have one of your own products, what would it be & why?
Would have to be fresh chillies as they are so versatile but couldn’t pick one single variety.
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
Sorry can’t be just one. It would have to be all my twitter friends. I launched my account on the 8th October this year to see what the interest would be in Galloway Chillies. I still can’t get over the enthusiasm and support that I’ve had from them all. You ask a question and they will try to answer or pass the query on to someone who will. Oh and on the menu, well it would have to be local produce with chillies incorporated somewhere in it no doubt.
After a few tweets back and forth between Gerry's Kitchen and Galloway Chillies, I decided that I wanted to try the hot version of the chilli jam. There are varying heat intensities available and with so many different breeds of chillies on the go, there'll be no shortage of spicy flavour.
I served the jam alongside fresh chicken liver pâté from Creeside Charcuterie and myself and dinner guests all loved the sweet, sticky jam that packed an intense chilli punch, so much so that my jar was quickly demolished! A blend of Apricot, Trinity, Jamaican Jerk and Orange Habanero are used to create the hot version with quantities of sliced chilli that leave Sheena with tingling fingers.
So if you're a fan of relishes and chutneys, then Galloway Chillies is worthy of a place in your fridge. If it worked so well with the pâté, then cheese and cold meats better look out!
Keep up to date with Galloway Chillies on Facebook & Twitter.