Jamaica Food Awards: Taste It
Article from The Jamaica Observer:
And the nominee in the category best (new) local product ...TOOKSIE’S AIN’T THAT HONEY & TOOKSIE’S HOT TRUFFLER
Tooksie's came to life in March 2020, at the beginning of COVID. I always played with the idea of leaving clients with 'just a tooks' of Tooksie after we catered for them, a little keepsake; a bottle to remind them of the bold flavours that is Tooksie.
We started with our Hot Truff – White Truffle-infused fermented Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce. It's a fiery but sweet hot sauce with sophisticated flavours of truffle. I felt adamant about putting out a local product with elevated flavours. I think this does just that! It highlights the sweetness as well as the addicting flavours of the Scotch bonnet with a subtle hint of truffle flavour.
My mind is always moving, so naturally I create new products every month! I hate salad, so my next task was to tackle salad dressings. Then we moved on to marinades, dips, BBQ sauce, pepper jelly, and, Scotch bonnet-infused salts.
We now have a line of 18 products, and we're not looking to slow down.
The range of new products:
• Hot Truff — White Truffle-Infused Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce
• Sesame Please! — Roasted Sesame Dressing
• Sweet Pucker — Lemon & Agave Dressing
• Miso Marinade — Sweet no salt needed marinade, basting sauce, dipping sauce
• Ginger Me — Vegan Ginger Dressing
• Hot Truff Aioli — We needed some hot truff love for our sandwich lovers
• Pass de Scotchie — Passionfruit Scotch Bonnet Pepper Jelly
• Ain't That Honey — Rum & Scotch Bonnet-Infused Honey because we're all about having our drinks and eating too.
• Hot Mother Truffler — Truffle & Scotch Bonnet Sea Salt
• Every Ting Scotchie — Scotch Bonnet-Infused Everything Bagel Seasoning
• Aunty Kerry's Spicy Table Sauce — We had to pay homage to our first teacher and the chef who continues to inspire and help us, my Aunty Kerry — this sauce is good on everything!
• Bae-becue — Sweet BBQ sauce
• Took-Fil-A — Our BBQ honey mustard sauce
• Bittersweet — not all sweet and sour sauces need to be eww
• Soymate — Our Asian Meat Marinade, perfect for skewered vegetables, shrimp, chicken, pork, beef, you name it
• The Johnny we created as a gift to my dad this past Father's Day — Our Rum-Infused Jerk BBQ Sauce. It was a challenge to create a sweet but spicy sauce and of course alcohol included, sweet with quite a punch of heat and full of all kinds of Jamaican flavours!
• Goodness Sake — Sake-infused cream sauce – this is the cream de la crème of sauce! Light but elevated Japanese flavours!
• Thai me Down — Our Pad Thai Marinade & Sauce — easy, hassle-free Pad Thai in under 30 minutes whenever you want it!
Where the ingredients are sourced... Most of our ingredients are sourced locally, of course not the specialty food items like truffle and flake salt, fish sauce, but our peppers, produce and sugar are all sourced locally. The specialty items are sourced from the US.
Our current retailers are... Butcher Block, The Collective — Montego Bay, Rainforest — Seafood Market Montego Bay, Rum & Raisin — Montego Bay, S Foods Supermarket, YS Falls, Jamaica Food & Drink Kitchen. We are about to be in the CPJ and Sandal's gift shops.
The story behind the packaging of the products... I think food and cooking need to be fun. I wanted the packaging to be bright but not too bright to lift someone's mood, keep food sassy. But also keep the label simple.
I made these products because… I myself struggle to figure out dinner, heck sometimes breakfast and lunch. Who wants to cook and clean up for more than two hours in the kitchen? We all have responsibilities and lives to live. But our food and what we put into our bodies shouldn't suffer because there just aren't enough hours in the day. Maybe because I am now a mom, I am all about quick, easy and tasty. I can't spend the amount of time in the kitchen that I used to while keeping our son alive, off the iPad, and entertained.
My products are versatile, easy to use, quick without lacking flavour!
My first breakthrough came when… My mother went through two bottles of my Hot Truff in one month! She is my harshest critic! I love her but the love she has for my Hot Truff still has me shook!!
The products became available to the public in… With everything I do Butcher Block is always right there to support me! January 2021 they stocked their store with our sauces.
Our core customers are… Butcher Block Barbican, mi love unu!! We restock this store if not weekly, then every other week.
Of course, we have our regulars who order off our website and pick up directly from us or my house.
The response to the products has been… Unimaginable. I tend to constantly have that little devil on my shoulder doubting saying 'are we sure?' But people love the taste, versatility and ease of the products. They're my babies, I've worked hard on them and people love them!
My products are successful because… I became a chef because I was a wonderful eater, that was my mindset when thinking about the Tooksie's line, what do I "want" to make/eat and how can I make it quicker/easier. I firmly believe this line is beginning to fill that niche market.
I plan to grow the business to become… International! Of course, I want to always appeal to the Jamaican market, but I like to think there's more to offer for Jamaican cuisine other than jerk. Our palate is always why people love the food here, we love flavor and spice!
My major challenge is… Of course, our ever-increasing food costs! Ingredients is hard to find for a price that makes sense! Ohh. If there are any certified organic farmers reading this please reach out to me.
This issue remains and managing the raw material inventory is… Sometimes tough, especially in rainy season, just sourcing the peppers. We try to prep/freeze our raw materials as we receive them.
If I knew then what I know now… I would have started Tooksie's a long time ago! But I'm a big believer that God's timing is always the right time. I have a great consultant, team and support system. I am sure our son instilled a drive in me to be successful more than before.
Jamaicans should support my products because… We also support local, farmers and producers wherever we can. Some bottles are bought locally, labels are made locally. They taste good! We put a lot of thought, hard work and, dare I even say, love in each product.