I’m so privileged to work as a BBC Broadcast Journalist, especially working on my favourite show – Radio 4’s “The Food Programme”. I love this show because it’s interesting, entertaining, and intelligently informative and of course, most importantly, it’s about food!
For the programme, I’d been carrying out some research, into how humous has become a fridge staple in the UK; almost an adopted ‘British’ food; like curry. So much so that supermarkets now stock up to 30 varieties, and it flies off the shelves.
I knew this was true in my household: the only healthy food my fussy 4 year old chooses to eat is humous. But bored of offering him the same thing all the time; I dug out my wok, some tea leaves, rice and brown sugar and tracked down the James Martin home-smoked trout recipe online.
Instead of trout, though, I was smoking chickpeas as my culinary nosiness had brought this to mind as something that sounded like it would taste amazing. It did. I had my son desperately trying to open the fridge day and night to get some for himself.
Guests, too, were raving about the deep, smoky taste which was completely addictive. So that was my lightbulb moment – could my family’s new special treat appeal to other people too? As part of my work for the beeb, I’d also investigated the newly fired passion in the UK for smoked food. Further research told me that no one else is making smoked chickpea humous; so this was going to be completely new.
I had to try it. I explained my quirky invention to my local, very lovely deli (The deli in Boldmere) and they offered to let me do some taste testing. Suddenly it all seemed very real – the start of something big?
Having never done anything like this before, I looked up “taste-testing” online, worked out how best to conduct the research (luckily I have a little experience in that area) and bought a load of bowls and spoons. So far, so good; but a lot was riding on this trial and I was nervous.
I placed some supermarket humous in a plain white bowl, with some of my smoked humous in an identical bowl. I was relieved to find the deli customers very friendly and happy to try the two products. The session seemed to go well; with lots of positive comments; but I couldn’t be certain of success until the end of the session. But as I totted up the results, it became plain – my smoked “Moorish” humous was as a clear 4:1 winner!
This was when I knew I was on to something. Next I did the same taste-test at our local primary school, believe me you don’t get fussier customers than this, especially when it comes to new flavours. I was very pleased to see it go down well there too, as getting kids to eat healthy food was how this all started and it seemed to be working.
But how could I turn my idea into a business? I had no experience in the food industry; no funding and had no idea about to go about commercial production. I needed some help…