One of the hottest companies around has almost quadrupled its business in a year – after putting on face masks and protective clothing to get it up and running.
The Dangerous Food Company, based in St Asaph, is now in talks with key industry player, Marks and Spencer, since unveiling its fiery chilli jams at the Hamper Llangollen food festival last year.
It went on to increase stockists of the breath-taking products from just 25 shops to 110 across Wales and Cheshire.
Company founders, friends Dominic Haynes and Llyr Jones, have also been in talks with luxury foods retailers – including Marks and Spencer – in a bid to further spread the appeal of the unique relishes they developed in their home kitchens.
The company’s unusual name comes from the fresh chillies they use – so hot that the duo had to wear protective headgear as they went to work on developing the unique recipe.
Now with 12 months of red hot trading under their belt, they plan to return to Hamper Llangollen 2015 bringing with them tastier jams than ever.
The popular event in Llangollen’s Royal Pavilion is recognised as one of the UK’s top 10 food festivals.
Cadwyn Clwyd has provided financial support over the past few years to ensure the festival’s long term viability, this was funded through the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government.
“We started out with just one jam, the original, but now we have five, plus a sixth recipe is in the making,” said Dominic.
He and Llyr live with their respective families, just a few yards away from each other, in St Asaph. They worked together at a North Wales dairy before launching the Dangerous Food Company.
Dominic, 32, said: “At first it started as a fun idea we had in a pub. Working in the food sector we already knew of chilli relishes on the market, but thought we could do better so we set about making our own at home.
“It took some time – and one or two disasters – to perfect our original recipe, but once we did, our families and friends loved it.
“We started selling a few jars as a hobby. Then following redundancies at the dairy, we both lost our jobs at the same time. That was when we decided to go for it and produce jams full time.”
They are allowed to call the relishes ‘jams’ because of the fruit content, though Dominic said only the very brave would want to eat these jams on toast for breakfast!
He said: “They are hot, hot, hot and spicy. But there is also a delicious fruitiness to them. It’s a lovely combination. They make a great accompaniment to savoury dishes, for barbecues, with cheese or meat, added to sauces or they can even be used to spice up a tin of baked beans.”
The range currently includes five flavours: red chilli with a hint of lime, jalapeño with bramley apple, habanero with mango, bird’s eye with morello cherry, and best seller, ghost chilli with blueberry, which is the hottest.
The pair are in the process of developing a sixth ‘secret recipe’ which they’re hoping to unveil at Hamper Llangollen 2015.
Dominic is responsible for marketing, packaging and sales while Llyr concentrates on the production side.
“We used to make all the jams ourselves but now we have an agreement with Patchwork Foods in Ruthin to use one of their units, which means we can meet strict production criteria, and still stick to our special recipes,” said Dominic.
“After a year in business we’re just glad that we’re able to keep ourselves employed and support our families, but without a doubt the pipe dream is that one day people will be able to see our jams sitting beside big luxury brands at the likes of Marks and Spencer.”
Hamper Llangollen chair Colin Loughlin believes this year’s festival is going to be one of the best ever.
He said: “Thanks to a whole host of indigenous companies, North East Wales is rapidly establishing a reputation as a centre of excellence for high quality cuisine.
“The food festival is a perfect shop window for the companies who form the backbone of our rural economy.
“The location of the Pavilion is absolutely spectacular – I can’t imagine that any other food festival in the UK has a more beautiful setting.”