VARIETY isn’t the spice of life – it’s chillies.
So says self-confessed spice-loving entrepreneur Michael Price who has turned his passion for chillies into a career.
In 2013 the Lillington resident found he had an abundance of chillies growing at home so decided to share his love of heat with others by making jams, sauces and chutneys to sell.
They went down so well that he decided to follow the spice route full time last November when he took voluntary redundancy from his job as a data analyst with Aston Martin.
It was straight into the greenhouse in his back garden where he now grows a variety of chilli peppers – from the mild mannered Aji Limon to the firey Scotch Bonnet
The 38 year-old also grows garlic, onions, cauliflower and courgette which he also uses to make his sauces, jams, chutneys, pastes and pickles from his kitchen known as Prices Spices – with 90 per cent of his ingredients homegrown and the rest are locally sourced.
In his youth, Michael had wanted to be a chef and his passion for cooking has stayed with him. His website offers recipe suggestions for each product and he is keen to hear from customers with suggestions of their own.
The dad of one hopes his products will have broad appeal – to those who don’t know what the Scoville Scale is – the measure of how spicy chillies are – to seasoned chilli fans.
Michael told the Observer: “I love talking people through my products and encourage everyone to push themselves when they try them. You would be surprised how many people say they aren’t into heat but end up loving and buying the hotter products!”
His ‘India Joywala Chutney’ is a firm favourite at the chilli festivals, and in 2014 it won a gold Great Taste Award. Organised by the Guild of Fine Food, they set the benchmark for fine food and drink.
Piccalilli was one of the first condiments to undergo a revamp in Michael’s culinary journey by packing his version full of home grown vegetables.
He said: “When I was younger piccalilli was more mustard than it was vegetables. There were always arguments over who ate the last piece of cauliflower – not that there was much in there to begin with. I took something many people don’t have fond memories of and I’d like to think I’ve made it likable!”
Being a one man band is no picnic for Michael, who does everything from sterilizing and labeling jars to sending out orders across the country – but he does get a helping hand occasionally from wife Heather and four-year-old son Zachary who join him selling at markets and picking chillies.
Prices Spices are stocked in shops across the country, including Hilltop Farm near Hunningham and Warwick Street Kitchen in Leamington.
Visit www.pricesspices.com for further details.