Barbara’s Kitchen, Dorset

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For Barbara Diggens – the artisan behind Barbara’s Kitchen – food is a passion.  “I love to cook and feed people,” she says, “so after many years working in an office, one day I thought why am I doing something I hate and not something I love?”

Barbara started by gifting food to family and friends and they suggested she should be selling it as it was so tasty. “It dawned on me that I was doing something that people really like,” she explains. And so, Barbara’s Kitchen was born in 2013, producing artisan chilli-based preserves – as well as vegetarian/ vegan street food – from a home kitchen in Bournemouth.  All preserves are made by the traditional method of small batches using the open pan method to ensure top quality.

Now, with Taste of the West and Great Taste awards under her belt, you’ll find Barbara selling her delicious fare at local food festivals. As with many artisans the support of friends and family is behind their success.

“I call upon my good friend Rich and my husband Rupert, son Tim, girlfriend Lesley, daughter Tauria and grandchildren Georgia and Madeline to help at food festivals.  All are fantastic and I couldn’t do it without them,” Barbara continues.

“Georgia and Madeline are fantastic sales girls aged 14 and 12.  They understand the product and love explaining the different flavours and their pairings.

“Rupert, being a keen gardener grows all the chillies for my preserves, so you really won’t get fresher than from plant to pot. I have developed the recipe and tweaked over the years and my family – especially Tim who is a chilli head – do all my tastings.”

Barbara is always researching new flavour possibilities and currently has five in her range, suitable for vegetarians and vegans, as well as gluten free. “Our best seller is Bloody Mary Chilli Jam,” she reveals, “I also supply catering containers to three local restaurants who use the chilli jam on their menus and also in Bloody Mary cocktails at Urban Reef Boscombe.  We also supplied wedding favour jars for two weddings last year.

“I have had some lovely reviews and feedback from customers. They like the fact we grow the chillies ourselves and there is nothing artificial in them.”

Barbara’s Kitchen produce is available at local food festivals, farm shops and delis. Find out where at: www.barbaras-kitchen.co.uk

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