A couple of weeks ago in Belsize Park, I stumbled across the pepperandstew range outside Budgens. I was pleasantly surprised to find an African food product with none of the slap-dash labeling, awful contrasting colours and a grinning, fat 'mammy' type face staring back at me. This product brands itself in a style up there with Pataks, Uncle Ben and others. Finally I thought to myself, someone out there has taken the time to nurture and transform the way African food products are branded and produced.
I spoke to Racquel the founder of pepperandstew.co.uk whose range of products include egusi stew, Jollof rice sauce and more. I immediately bought the Jollof rice sauce and cooked it when I got home. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. There are even other recipe suggestions for those not familiar with Jollof rice allowing others to use the sauce with pasta. meatballs etc. Wow! Finally a brand that thinks outside the box allowing African food to lend itself to variety. All I can say is that this is good news for those of us who are tired of African food remaining in the dark, lagging behind Indian and Caribbean food and quite frankly coming last for all the right reasons.
I spoke to Racquel to question her about her venture............
Describe the defining moment when you decided we all needed Jollof rice sauce to be bottled like pasta sauce?
Since I started making West African dishes over 12 years ago. I always thought about how long a process it was to cook these dishes. ! Time is not a luxury we have in the West, so why not cut some of these processes down just as every other world cuisine has done!
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A lot of African food products fail miserably when it comes to branding. Can you tell me how you were able to overcome this with your products?
Good branding is costly; it was my mission from the beginning to find a good designer with a proven record who could deliver what I needed. An authentic African product that could easily fit in on the shelves in Sainsburys or Tesco. This is the goal…to get African cuisine into the main stream.
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What food range have you produced so far?
So far we have Jollof sauce, Egusi stew sauce, Palm nut sauce and Shito, which we are calling The African Fish Sauce. We also have a mild and extra hot version of the Jollof sauce.
Where can I order your products if I cant find it in a store near me?
Right now you can order on www.pepperandstew.co.uk.