My first Helpx experience was in North Wales with the lovely Nicola and Bim of Bim’s Kitchen, an artisan food company who make African themed sauces, nut butters and syrups using exotic ingredients such as Baobab, Coconut, Moringa, Cacao and all sorts of chillies. What drew me to their products in the first place is the fact they don’t use gluten or dairy, their creamy sauces are made using coconut milk and coconut cream and I have to say they are delicious. They do use sugar in their products mainly because they use no artificial preservatives. so sugar is used to preserve.
Helpx is a site that matches volunteers with hosts, for instance I volunteer to work for them and they provide me with accommodation and food, in this case no food was provided but I only had to work two hours a day and had my own little flat, so it was prefect.
Nicola gave me a lot of time off to explore North Wales during my stay and I learned so much about the production of their fab products from taking the raw ingredients and turning them into fully packaged gift sets.
First I must mention how much of a perfectionist both Nicola and Bim are, every step of the production process is very meticulous from the cook to the packing and making sure the labels all look the same on the jars, they are very proud of their products and rightly so. Their products are sold online at www.bimskitchen.com at food festivals and through agents to high end delicatessens and artisan food shops.
To begin the process Nicola and Bim have what they call “cook days”, they disappear into their commercial kitchen for the day or couple of days depending on how much they need to cook with their white coats and white hats, the only indication of what is going on is the wonderful aromas wafting across the carpark. I was not allowed to be involved in this process for obvious reasons; too many cooks spoil the broth and all that!!
My job was to make up the pre-cut boxes which I became very good at, help Nicola label the jars and for the jars that had won a “Great taste award” small round stickers had to be applied. The whole process is very time consuming and involves sticking the correct labels on the boxes, correct labels on jars which involves code numbers because every jar has to be traceable in case of any problems, (not that they have ever encountered any but the law states that they need to do this), put the caps on and shrink them to the jar, box the products and sometimes apply twine and wooden label if gift boxes, the whole process takes a long time, there is a machine to label the jars but Nicola and I had a good rhythm going.
I also helped prepare the Airbnb rooms to rent out and visited a couple food festivals with them and helped on their stand. We attended Denbigh and Flintshire show and Anglesey Seafood festival which were both lovely events to get to know their customers and promote their products.
I have to say I enjoyed every minute of working with Nicola and Bim they are lovely people and work very hard, probably too hard, in my opinion, they never have time off, not even a night out, there is always work to do and they are so proud of what they do that they want to ensure everyone who orders from them gets the best products and the best service. It was such a pleasure to play a small part in their business and their lives. I will treasure my memories there forever and their products are the best.
I don’t eat chillies, I just can’t tolerate the heat but they have something for everyone, some of their products have chillies but some don’t. The nut butters and syrups don’t and they taste so good, they do Baobab and Cacao syrup which tastes like citrus chocolate. The baobab is a fruit of the baobab tree sometimes called the upside down tree in Africa because of its shape and the resin that holds the seeds in place within the fruit is ground into a powder which becomes the actual ingredient. The baobab is used in their peanut butter too which also gives it a citrus taste and it is used in their barbecue sauce.
They also do relishes with tiger nut and coconut and chilli jam with baobab which is not too hot for me, in fact I loved it despite its chilli content, because of the other ingredients I find that the chilli doesn’t dominate as it does in so many other products which I have tried before. I tried it with pate on toast with some chilli jam on the top, delicious. Their curry sauces are to die for and my favourite is chick pea and moringa, moringa is a new super food and comes from the plant Moringa oliefera, it is used in powdered form and full of vitamins and anti-oxidants.
It is worth visiting their stall at one of the food festivals they go to; to get a real taste for their products, where you can literally taste every product they have and decide your favourite, which is pretty difficult to pick just one. They have a large chilli lover following because their chilli products are also some of the best.
Make a visit to their online shop and see the range of products they do and you won’t be disappointed.