hOW IT ALL BEGAN
Gourmet Spice Co was created by Mark Hughes in May 2011. After more than 20 years in a corporate life, Mark decided to put his passion for food into action.
After many months of work, he made a range of products & took them to a local food festival. To his delight, he sold out of most things & hasn’t looked back since.
In his own words…
“I think being a foodie is a widely-coined phrase nowadays but can sometimes infer a certain snobbery with food. The truth is, I think it’s more about having a better appreciation for flavoursome, sustainable ingredients rather than claiming a particular food or method is superior to another.
I’m fortunate enough to have eaten in places like The Fat Duck & greatly enjoyed it, but I’ll also greatly enjoy a lunch of sautéed kale on a garlic-rubbed bruschetta drizzled with oil costing just a few pence. Good food is good food. But why start Gourmet Spice Co? Like many, I was working long hours & pushed for time but still wanted real flavour from food. I had slipped into a rut, eating mostly the same things week after week. I wanted to be able to use a pinch of this, a drizzle of that or a sprinkle of the other for incredible taste with real, pure ingredients. I didn’t want vinegars packed with half a bottle of sugar or blends with fillers & I’m too impatient to follow rigid instructions so ‘curry kits’ are no good either. Then, frustration turned into inspiration!
i wanted something more versatile. So I made it.
My friends are also keen foodies & dinner parties often involve turning up with experimental dishes to see what others thought. There have been near-disasters (flashbacks of my friend looking up at me saying those immortal words “I hurt” whilst eating a curry so hot we were practically glowing) but, all in all, we had some terrific food adventures.
I recall like it was yesterday impromptu-Chinese-food-ordering in a San Francisco Jazz bar because I’d seen (then tasted) the most incredible looking Sweet & Sour Crispy fish; ordering in Chinatown then accidentally intercepting another tables’ dim-sum as well because we couldn’t understand a word the waiters were saying; laughing as our friend misunderstood the waiter in Morton’s Steakhouse when he reached to take the menu back & shaking his hand instead, saying “sweet”, and so on.
Most of my funniest moments have involved food somewhere along the line and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Little was I to know that all these experiences would ultimately lead to me giving up the corporate life to create Gourmet Spice Co.
I’d reached a point in my life where I wanted something more fulfilling, more fun, something that really excited me. I wanted to experiment, to play, to throw out almost everything I knew & start again. And to show people that spice doesn’t have to mean hot.
I had one rule: to create incredible products from the purest, cleanest ingredients that were healthy as well as flavour-packed.
I wanted to drastically reduce the salt & sugar in rubs & create flavour combinations that aren’t typically seen. For instance, we grind black rice to a powder for texture in our Gunpowder Rub, fuse classically-Asian spices with Italian balsamic vinegar for our Spiced Aromatic Balsamic; we’ve even soaked peppercorns in bourbon for a few days just because, well, I wanted to see what would happen. We’ve developed recipes with coffee & cacao to make red meats taste meatier, paired green apples with mango for a zingy fruit vinegar & found techniques of infusing oil to deliver flavour in distinct layers instead of all at once, like in our gorgeous Chilli & Lemon oil.
Somewhere along the way, this curiosity became our mantra. Indeed, our quest to try and get extra flavour out of something as humble as a peppercorn led to us being finalists as the Most Innovative Food & Drink Company two years’ running plus a string of other nominations, including many coveted Great Taste Awards.
We’ve a loyal following of professional chefs, industry experts, bloggers & home cooks & our energy is even greater now.