Five minutes with Fergus Chamberlain the man behind the Gran Luchito brand.
What’s your background?
I trained as a chef and have worked in kitchens in France and New York. I studied Economics at the University of Aberdeen and joined Sainsbury’s on their Buying Graduate Scheme where I moved on to become the buyer of sausage and bacon, amongst other things. More recently I worked for the fresh baby food company Little Dish in a sales and marketing role.
What gave you the idea for the paste?
In Oaxaca in southern Mexico, chillies are pretty much a staple. Unlike in the UK or USA where it’s all about heat. There, chillies are used to bring flavour to the food. Making a chilli paste is a traditional way of using chilli. They make it using a stone grinder called a metate and it’s seriously hard work.
Inspired by the fact that a paste is a great cooking ingredient, I started working on a traditional paste recipe and adapting it for European tastes, which meant I had to work on taking out the heat.
How did you find the farmers?
A year ago I spent 5 weeks in Oaxaca in Mexico. I spent time with chefs and market traders. After I built up relationships with these people I was introduced to the Mixes farmers.
Who should buy Gran Luchito?
The product is for people who love food and cooking. Either those who already like heat or for those who have yet to discover it.
How did you arrive at the name?
Gran Luchito in Spanish means the great little fighter. The farmers who grow the wonderful Pasilla Oaxaca (from which Gran Luchito is made) live up in the Mixes Hills that surround Oaxaca. Their existence is a really tough one, long dry summers and then a rainy season to match an Indian monsoon. It’s a fight against nature. The result of that fight being the beautiful chillies.
How did you arrive at the price and what does your labelling show?
The recommended retail price is £4.99. It’s an authentic Mexican gourmet product. A great deal of hard work and love from the farmers and Cocina Oaxaca (the folks who make it) is reflected in the price. The artwork of Gran Luchito tells the story of the farmers and the chillies.
Here’s a picture with Fergus and the farmers.