Sunday, 25 October 2020

My fruity chilli sauce means I can never forget grandparents

My fruity chilli sauce means I can never forget grandparents

A MAN who produces his own artisan hot sauces has dedicated his latest creation to the memory of his grandparents.

Johnpaul Maillard hopes to raise £2,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK with Fruity Bonnet.

Each bottle has a picture of his grandparents, Alfonsa and Louis Maillard, and £1 from every sale will go to the charity.

Mr Maillard grows all his chillies at home in Middle Assendon, where he lives with his partner, Kirsty Wooldridge, a PA to a financial advisor, and stepchildren, Bailey, 12, and Kitty, 10.

He uses three polytunnels and a greenhouse while his commercial kitchen is based at Henley Self Storage in Newtown Road.

The business was registered in 2018 but he did not start trading properly until November last year as he wanted to make sure the kitchen was ready.

Mr Maillard, who is known locally as “Johnny HoT Stuff”, had been working in corporate sales for more than 20 years when he began making his sauces as a hobby. He would take samples to work for his colleagues to try and they suggested he should start his own business.

Mr Maillard, 46, says he has his grandparents to thank for his
passion.

He said: “Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. My grandfather died 16 years ago after a short illness.

“He had been an army mechanic. He came over from Jamaica and served with the British army,

“My grandmother was from Belize. She was very much into homegrown food and home-cooked meals. I was involved with the cooking and the gardening from a very young age.

“My grandfather had chilli sauce with just about every meal and I have certainly picked that up.

“I can honestly say that if it was not for my upbringing and my grandparents, I would never have chosen this path.” Mr Maillard currently grows nine different varieties of chilli, including the Scotch bonnet that is in Fruity Bonnet.

He said: “I have scaled it down this year but at my peak I had 27 varieties. I was intrigued by all the different shapes and colours.”

Each variety of chilli is given a rating on the Scoville scale, with an ordinary bell pepper rating between 0 and 100 units. His hottest chilli is the Carolina reaper, which comes in at 1,569,300 units, putting it among the most potent available.

The Scotch bonnet is between 100,000 and 350,000 units, so is still on the hot side.

Although many of his customers specifically request the hottest sauce available, Mr Maillard says even he struggles to handle the heat.

He said: “I try to taste everything that I grow in its raw form because I think I have got quite a good ability to read flavour profiles.

“There does come a point where even though I’m used to the heat, I struggle. I’ve found myself hanging over a sink because of how hot a chilli was.”

Fruity Bonnet also contains mango and raisins and Mr Maillard describes it as a “fruity Caribbean-style sauce” that is perfect for cooked breakfasts, burgers and grilled meats.

A 250ml bottle costs £4.79 and he has so far sold 180 bottles,

His grandmother, who lived in Langley, died in January after a battle with Alzheimer’s,

The disease is a type of brain disorder, which causes problems with memory and behaviour.

There is currently no cure but the charity hopes to be able to offer life-changing treatment by 2025.

Mr Maillard said: “Having seen what I have seen with my family, I just felt I needed to do something positive.

“I want people to understand just how brave people with Alzheimer’s are and that charities have struggled a lot this year because of covid-19. It is really difficult to convey just how horrible the disease is. It robs lively and vibrant people of their freedom. It got to the point where my grandmother couldn’t eat anything.

“She was one of those people who was a pillar of the community and there were so many people at her funeral.

“It was a blessing that we managed to get her funeral in before lockdown started.”

Mr Maillard said his business had been affected by the pandemic just as he was planning to raise his public profile.

He said: “I had been looking forward to going to festivals but everything was cancelled.

“I had invested quite a lot of money in equipment and marketing the business. All of a sudden, my revenue completely vanished.

“All I ever wanted was for my hobby to pay for itself and I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the local response.”

Fruity Bonnet is available from the Henley Circle website, https://www.henleycircle.org.uk

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