On Friday the 11th of May, I arrived at the Vanilla offices for a very different reason. It wasn't for a meeting, or to work, but rather to taste test chilli sauces. And so, just before 1pm, the rest of the staff at Vanilla and I piled into the Play Room where our trial by fire had been set up.
Our delicious chilli sauces came from Fynbos Fine Foods. A company based out of Malmesbury run by chilli lovers Rozelle and Julian Abramson. Their business has been going for almost 17 years and continues to grow and prosper. Their products range from the amazing chilli sauces to jams, pesto's, salsas and more. All the products are natural and don't have any preservatives, colourants or MSG.
We had 7 of FFF's chilli sauces on offer for the taste test. These ranged from a "hotness" rating of 3 all the way up to 10. For our tasting we had lots of hot chips, and ice cream on standby as our fire extinguisher, in case of emergencies...
As Justin sat down to be the first staff member to face the heat and readied his first chip, everyone in room quietened down. We had arranged the sauces in order of "hotness", with Jalapeno sauce as his first obstacle. Justin made quick and easy work of the first 4 sauces on the table, and then with the staff behind him, he turned towards the 3 hottest sauces, Red Chilli, Habanero and Habanasco. I was elected as "sauce judge" for the event, ensuring that each staff member had enough sauce on each chip during their taste test. After I declared the amount of sauce on his chip enough, Justin tried the Habanero sauce. The reaction was immediate. "That's hot, that's hot, that's hot. I can feel that in my throat." Yet he soldiered on, taking on the last remaining sauce the Habanasco.
Everyone else then tucked into the sauces and the atmosphere of the room quickly changed to, "Well, that's not too hot" to standing in the kitchen gulping down glasses of water. My curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to try the Habanasco sauce first. It really was quite intense, and gave me instant hiccups as I went off to find some water. The only problem with my decision with trying the Habanasco first, was that I couldn't actually taste much of the other sauces after that, yet I gave it my best shot and then joined the growing number of staff members having a bowl of ice cream, looking a bit hot under the collar.
As a staff we all agreed that the Habanasco was definitely the hottest sauce on the table, yet people were divided over the best tasting sauce. Some said it was the Chipotle (for its smokey BBQ flavour) or the Habanero which also had chilli seeds in it.
I am new to Vanilla and I loved the chance that this "taste test" gave me to get to know the staff. There is a great sense of family in the office, everyone is friendly to each other and the atmosphere felt very welcoming. The banter over the chilli was great and had everyone with a smile on their face. I really look forward to doing more fun things with the staff in the future!
FYNBOS FINE FOODS
for more information, visit their website