Never has the phrase “Alcohol, because no great story started with a salad” been so apt!
Like jam? Love your chilli? You are going to love this stuff! Llyr and Dom are the duo behind ‘Dangerous Food Company’ specialising in chilli jam. I was meant to meet up with Llyr one weekend to do the interview, but in true ‘Llandrillo-style’, there were a few hangovers that morning, resulting in our dog getting the fright of his life with some jam being pushed through his cat flap! Anyway, the dog recovered and my jeans have got slightly tighter thanks to so much cheese with chilli jam on top being eaten…
Firstly, please tell me this did really start over a pint in the pub?! And what number pint were you on, when this idea came up? ;)
Yes it did…and it was pint number 6!
And, how does chilli jam come into conversation with mates in a pub?
Dom had a recipe for the Chilli Jam. He used to bring jars to the office in our last job (we both worked together for an Irish dairy), for us to scoff with cheese on lunchtime. It was a great recipe and added a load of flavour. When we heard we were being made redundant, we thought sod it, why not try and make this full time and see if we can sell it.
What was your process during the trial batches? Was it still just the two of you at this point? I actually typed pint then, so answer whichever feels more comfortable! ha! ;)
Dom is the master chef. I’m not really that good with making jam! I work more on the sales side (that’s where I’m good apparently)! Trials took a lot of batches to get it right. The Ghost one, which is our best seller and made with the hottest chilli in the world, took about 30 batches to get it just right. Too much chilli and you couldn’t taste the fruit, so start again. I think we have it just right now, must be ok, sold about 500 jars of Ghost at the BBC Winter good food show in 4 days.
We started off with the Red one, and added the Jalapeno, following the same recipe as the original one and it worked out well. Our ideas were simple, different chilli, with a different fruit and sweeten it up with sugar. The aim with each one is that you get all 3 sensations at different stages when you eat.
We thought we would trial our 2 first new products at Conway food festival last year to see if we had a product people would buy. We sold about 400 jars over the 2 days and that’s when we realised we had a product! We were both made redundant about 3 weeks later, and thought, if we don’t give it a blast now, we never will. And that’s where the journey started…..
You’ve had experience working in the cheese industry, did this play a part in this? Also with taste testing and choosing your flavours for the jams?
Yes 100%. We wanted something to go well with Cheese. We think we have it. It’s the same market that I have been working in for the last 15 year so a natural fit.
Flavours are all done by trial. Dom asked me one day for a blue fruit to go with the ghost one (that’s the colour he wanted the label), I said blueberry and he made a batch. Each flavour is made this way. Obviously we don’t get it right first time!
I take it the jam still isn’t made in your kitchen? Where is it now made?
Dom was able to make about 1,000 jars per week at home. His house stank of chilli and fruit, and he was working 60 – 80 hours a week to make it. We now have a factory in Ruthin making it for us. They can make 5,000 jars a week, so this really helps us focus on selling the product rather than making. Dom has worked with the production team a lot to make sure we got the batch sizes for the ingredients just right. Going from 20 jar makes to 500 jar makes is a bit of a challenge.
I’ve seen a few photos of you attending food markets? Where can we see you appearing next? Any Christmas markets? Local?
We are at Chester Christmas market up until the 14th December. We are also at Prestatyn Christmas food festival up till Christmas eve. These are our last ones for 2014. We are working local for now. Deli’s and farm shops in North Wales. We are working with Blas Ar Fwyd in Llanrwst to help us distribute. We are doing a lot of tastings as well for the next couple of weeks with all of our delis and farm shops. Tweedmill, Hawarden Farm Shop, Rhug etc etc.
Speaking of Christmas, I’ve seen the gravy recipe on your website, will this be on the table come Christmas Day? Personally, when I’m cooking a roast dinner, the roast and veg can do whatever it bloody wants, but the gravy, that needs to be PERFECT! Got any tips for which chilli jam to go with Turkey?
The jalapeno goes well with Pork. Ive not tried with the turkey gravy before. Maybe you could try it and let us know which one is best? Maybe the red chilli one would work well?
What does Christmas look like in the Jones household this year?
Christmas will be in Thailand this year. Blondie marc is getting married so off there to watch him tie the knot! It’s been a hectic 12 months and we are really excited about 2015 and where we will be in 12 months time. We are working on some new jam flavours also. So, any recommendations your readers can give us for what fruit to best go with Scotch bonnet chilli would be appreciated!
You heard the man, get your jam on and get back to him!