What’s the inspiration behind your recipe, and can you recall the moment the idea was born?
LOVE is the inspiration behind my recipe! Love for spicy food, Love for a good home cooked meal, Love for the food you grew up with, Love for my super little lady - aka "my gran" who taught me how to cook and how to first make Chilli.
I remember the first meal I ever cooked my partner Anthony was Chilli - and if a way to a man's heart is through his stomach then I nailed it because he has loved me since! I've been cooking Chilli for about 20 years. Family and friends have always said how good it is and that I could sell it! So I guess the idea was born a long time ago but Recipe to Riches has been the opportunity I've been dreaming of!
Who do you think your recipe is perfect for?
I want to say EVERYONE!
Truly, anyone who loves spicy food... and anyone who can't be bothered cooking or is just short on time!
My Chilli Con Carne comes frozen in a bowl ready to heat with organic corn chips ready to go - perfect for anyone short on time or in need of a Mexican fix! Anyone can buy it, pop it in the freezer and pull it out anytime for a quick meal - a real homemade tasting quick meal.
How has your recipe evolved since the first time you made it, and what were the challenges of preparing a commercial quantity?
The first time I made Chilli myself I was in school so that was a looooong time ago! Since then I have eaten my way through friends kitchens, Chilli festivals and other countries learning tonnes about different spices, and different cooking techniques. I've tried adding ingredients, taking them away, tried different brands of ingredients, different grades of beef... I think I've perfected it these days and usually make it the same way.
When I was put in the industrial kitchen I was daunted to say the least. The most I'd ever made was a few kilos at once so I wasn't sure if the flavours would remain the same when cooked on such a large scale. I hadn't really thought of the challenges of preparation, timing and cooking method while making such a massive amount... but I survived and so did my recipe!
Lucky for me Recipe to Riches and Woolworths provided experts and food scientists to deal with the challenges of getting my recipe from my kitchen to the industrial kitchen. I was surprised and relieved that so few "extra" ingredients were added to turn my recipe into the product you can buy.
What was the best piece of advice you received from the judges?
This is a hard one. Every word they said?!
The experts make me nervous! Its not easy talking to the Amazing business women of the year and entrepreneur Carolyn, The hugely talented and dreamy chef Darren or the incredibly creative and wise Nobby - without getting nervous and forgetting what they've said a few times!
I think Nobby telling me that people might not want to buy a box with a candy skull on it was the best! Seriously Nobby, what a legend!
What was the most surprising thing you learnt about the process of turning a recipe into a commercial product?
That food can be good for you even if it's mass produced. You don't need to pump it full of chemicals to make it look pretty or taste great :)
From your experience, what advice what you give someone who has an idea but doesn’t know where to start trying to make a success out of it?
Watch Recipe to Riches and then apply! Know your product, know your ingredients, try it on your friends and family and don't ever give up! Talk to Woolworths! They are amazing people and they took a chance on me! If you believe in something just don't quit.
What does the future hold for yourself and your recipe? Any other great ideas in the pipeline you could give us a taster of?
I don't know what the future holds. Hopefully I win Recipe to Riches, become a household name and have my own line of products! For now I'm still flying in the sky, cooking for my friends and family when I'm home and feeling absolutely blessed I have this opportunity.
I have so many ideas and recipes. I particularly love our Mexican nights at home and I must say we make a fajita and taco seasoning that would run off the shelves also "the" guacamole dip of the ages, I love the idea of Mexican cordial!
My gran has shared with me many casserole and marinade recipes that my friends love as much as I do (really I think Woolworths should hire me full-time as a product creator - Liz if you're reading?!)
My friends might tell you they think I should also pursue a long term love of mine - food for skin! I love making my own skin care products!
Just when you think life can't get any better Anthony and I found out we are having a baby so I've been experimenting with organic baby foods too.
Here are a few recipes that go well with Sara Jade’s Chilli Con Carne.