A familiar and ever-cheerful face on the region’s food and drink scene, Candi Robertson celebrates her 10-year anniversary in September as she returns to the place that started it all – the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival at Holkham Hall. Samantha Mattocks finds out the latest for the Chutney Queen – and firms up rumours of a golden jar…
“I made it!” laughs Candi. “10 years of chutney making and here I am, all ready to go to the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival with a golden jar! The winner will receive a year’s supply of chutney, and I cannot wait to see who that is. One jar will have golden stars under the label – whoever gets this wins a year’s worth of chutney – 12 jars, one for each month of the year! We are also giving tickets away for customers purchasing four jars or more. If it ends in 0 or 1, they win a free chutney, steak sauce or relish.ˮ
You cannot help but get swept along in Candi’s great enthusiasm for all things chutney – and relish, and sauce; the range has expanded over the years from Candi’s Chutney to Candi’s Cupboard. The heart remains the same, however – taking fresh, never frozen, local and British ingredients and, with a little bit of chopping, spice, and magic, turning them into something extraordinary.
“I really should have a platinum jar, not golden,” she grins. “After all, it is jubilee year and HRH Prince Charles enjoyed my parsnip and chilli chutney very much when he tried it at the Royal Norfolk Show in 2016.”
The daughter of a chef, and a chef herself, Candi has long loved making chutneys from freshly picked vegetables. “I used to go to the family allotment as a child and help to pick the vegetables,” explains Candi. “Fast-forward to Christmas 2011 and my husband, Iain, and I made chutneys for Christmas presents. Everyone loved them – and Candi’s Chutney was born. We went to the 2012 North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival and sold out.”
Her award-winning chutneys include some made in collaboration such local producers such as Norfolk Gin and Panther Brewery. “I used my chef background to come up with my flavours,” explains Candi. “They are unique to me. I think that’s why people keep coming back – you can’t find these flavours anywhere else. Plus, all our produce is handcrafted and cooked in traditional preserving pans, and that shows in the finished product.”
In 2019, Candi added three steak sauces – original, smokey, and chilli – based on Edwardian recipes. Thick and delicious, they go well with everything, not just steak! Then in 2021, Candi’s Cupboard was born as she launched a range of relishes. “The gherkin and onion relish is possibly the best thing I have ever made in my life!” she laughs.
“Fin, my younger son, is now my Events and Sales Manager, enabling Candi’s Cupboard to grow while launching his own business. He has just hosted his first event, Native 2 Norfolk, at The Forum in Norwich, with a second event planned for 12 November. I am incredibly proud of him. It was great to see so many Norfolk businesses supporting him.”
As Candi and her golden jar get ready to head to the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, there is little doubt that she is a true force of nature, and her proudest moment remains winning the Pride of Norfolk Award at the 2017 EAT Food and Drink Awards with her family by her side.
“I built Candi’s Chutney out of love for what I do and a belief in the produce,” she says. “I never imagined that it would grow as it has and for that, I will always be incredibly grateful. Every jar of chutney, sauce, and relish comes from my heart, and I love it when people respond to my weirdly wonderful creations with equal love and affection!”
- Candi’s Cupboard – home to award winning chutney and unique sauces and relish too! www.candiscupboard.com.