Waitrose hot for local chillies
A small producer is tasting red hot success after winning a contract to supply Waitrose in St Neots with chilli sauces.
Edible Ornamentals, which was set up in 2001 by Joanna and Shawn Plumb, attracted the attention of Waitrose’s Regional Food Buyer, Tracey Telford, with its dedicated and passionate approach to producing sauces. All chilli-related products sold by Edible Ornamentals are made with chillies grown in their own greenhouses in Chawston, Bedfordshire before specially-trained cooks turn them into fiery gourmet sauces. Joanna Plumb explains: “The cooks work with us in the greenhouses to ensure they understand what makes the perfect chilli. How else do they know what they’re cooking with is first-class? “In the height of summer, the chillies are first picked at 6am and immediately taken to the kitchen to be used in sauces that day. This approach is extremely rare in the UK, and results in an exceptionally fresh sauce.” As well as the sauces, Edible Ornamentals produces and sells hand-picked chillies, chilli plants and chilli strings to the public at farmer’s markets, specialist garden and food shows, delicatessens and independent food stores. In the summer, the company will open its new nursery to the public so they can see for themselves what a fresh chilli looks and tastes like – in a sauce, or if feeling brave, straight from the plant. The public can also see one of the hottest chillies in the world – the Habanero Chilli, which is included in the Edible Ornamentals chilli crop. As well as increasing its line of locally-produced food in the St Neots branch, Waitrose is also supporting local producers through dedicated fixtures instore and ‘local food heroes’ will be highlighted on the community wall at the entrance of the branch. Branch manager, Tim Cobley, says: “When we carried out our research for what their new branch should incorporate, there was an overwhelming desire for more local and regionally produced food and drink.”