Candi Robertson is one of the most well-known of the region’s many local producers, with her chutneys being staples on kitchen tables since she first began selling her wares. In 2019, Candi added authentic steak sauces to her offerings and later this year, she will launch her relish range. Samantha Mattocks heads to Chutney HQ to find out more.
I’m still here!” laughs Candi as she and her 19-year old son, Finn, welcome me into the affectionately named ‘chutney barn’, located in Salle, near Reepham. “I should actually say ‘we’ as Finn is now my Events/Sales Manager. He has deferred university for a year and is in charge while I make the chutneys and sauces – and now, relishes!”
Candi is the daughter of a chef who, in turn, was the daughter of a “nan who was a good cook”. From a young age, Candi would go to the allotment and help pick to vegetables that were then turned into chutneys. Fast-forward to 2011 when Candi and her husband, Iain, made chutneys for Christmas gifts, and Candi’s Chutney was born.
From that small beginning, a cluster of chutneys were born that have now won multiple Great Taste Awards. From spiced carrot to non-mango mango, all the chutneys are made using British ingredients, with much of it sourced locally. Many are also made in collaboration, such as the cuecumber and Norfolk Gin relish or Bramley apple and Norfolk Ale chutney, made with local Panther Brewery. “I used my chef background to come up with my flavours,” explains Candi. “Nearly all are unique to me. I think that’s why people keep coming back – you can’t find these flavours anywhere else.”
It was this love of flavour that saw Candi create three steak sauces – original, smokey, and chilli – born out of looking through the Gressingham Rural Life Museum archives. “In Edwardian times, there were only ever two sauces on the table – Houses of Parliament, which would become HP sauce, and steak sauce. I made the recipe, loved it, and decided to bring it back. Sadly, thanks to lockdown, they have not had their chance to shine, but they will.”
This year sees Candi’s Chutney rebranded to Candi’s Cupboard as she launches a range of relishes: gherkin and onion, sweetcorn and chilli, and tomato and red pepper. “The gherkin and onion relish is possibly the best thing I have ever made in my life!” laughs Candi. “Finn loves the sweetcorn and chilli, especially with a sausage roll, and I cannot wait to launch them – I am just waiting on the labels!
“What makes my products so special is that they are all handcrafted, nothing is done by machine. Iain chops the onions, Aiden helps with the labelling, and Finn has taken on a lot more responsibility this last year. He has just got his A-level grades and I am so proud of him.”
Candi is a true force of nature who counts among her highlights meeting HRH Prince Charles at the Royal Norfolk Show in 2016 – “he enjoyed the parsnip and chilli chutney very much,” – and winning the Pride of Norfolk Award at the 2017 EAT Food and Drink Awards.
However, family is at the heart of all Candi does. “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