A taste of Essiespice
Where would the world be without sauces and condiments? Probably still stuck in an age where there was no honour and glory in cooking. No sauce, including the few that we are obsessed with, appear from thin air. Essiespice, a brand created by Essie Bartels, is one such fine sauce greatly packaged and with a targeted market that is as global as the owner herself. Born in Ghana, she lives in New Jersey (USA) and is a self-confessed traveller and foodie.
MyWekuTastes caught up with Essie to find out a bit more about the force behind Essiespice. Asked how she got started, she stated “I started in New Jersey, USA, after experimenting with many different recipes and concoctions. In the beginning, I was just having fun with it until people told me how amazing the sauces were. Then I had to really sit up and fine tune the recipes, get them certified and get them out there to everyone”
As any sauce developer would tell you, being a natural with blending and experimenting with several permutations is essential. As Essie will tell you “There are no rules. I just create blends based on places I’ve eaten, or a flavor I tried that I liked. It could be from something I ate in a hut in Lesotho, a Japanese restaurant in NYC or from the streets of Labone in Ghana. You don’t realize how your memory retains all this information and somehow brings it up when needed.”
It is one thing retaining culinary memories gained on travels, but you need to be there to experience those memories to begin with. Asked what three dishes had left an indelible mark on her memory on her travels, Essie told us that “I would say the three dishes that have left an indelible mark on my memory and I can’t wait to go back and have them are:
-A savory cheese crepe I had on the mountain top in a restaurant in Eze. So far, no crepe has been better than that crepe. And I’ll go back there, just for it.
-A loaf of bread I had in a hut on the mountain top in Lesotho Sani Pass (Mountain tops seem to have great food). It was the best bread I have ever had. It was made in a makeshift fire in the middle of the hut in a casserole pot. Simple, but remarkable.
-Atseke, Aloko, Grilled Tilapia and Pepper from Chez Clarisse– a restaurant in Accra. I could literally eat this everyday. It’s everything you want in food; spicy, sweet, savory and ultimately satisfying.”
Variety as they say is the spice of life. The sauces come in a few notable flavours. If you are a fun of spicy and savoury then you might want to home in on the beautifully named Mango Chilli Medley which Essie Bartels tells us “strikes a sweet balance between savory and spicy” she adds “We’ve had people use it on sandwiches, add it to stews and soups, eat it with Kenkey, put it on their vegetables, kebabs… the list is endless.”
As with any forward looking company standing still is not an option. What I guess will appeal to you most about Essiespice is the inherent creativity fused into not only the sauces, but also the packaging. This is a company run by an African that is at the forefront of re-branding what contemporary Africa should be about! Style, uniqueness and most importantly a global outlook. Essiespice will just as seamlessly stand tall next to any other food brand out there, whether on the shelf of a supermarket in London, Tokyo, New York, Cape Town, Kampala or Accra.
It was, therefore, particularly exciting to hear about new developments in the pipeline. Essie told us that she is working on “relaunching the website with our new jars and labels. The recipes have been slightly tweaked to represent the brand better and also our market.” Our favourite development comes next!
We want our products to be wholesome yet delicious so our new improved sauces are all vegetarian, completely additive free, gluten free, preservative free and three of them are vegan.
“Launch of the website should be by the end of April. We also have a Kickstarter that will launch right after. In 3-5 years, you should find Essiespice in more countries and in more stores. There should be more people being impacted directly by our business both in NY/NJ and in Ghana where our spices are sourced. We will introduce more products that are undergoing research right now. And other auxiliary products will be added with the authentic feel of home (Ghana) but with the world class appeal.”