In which we pretend we’re BFFs with Simon Rimmer

Doing Daily Brunch with Ocado is basically an elaborate ruse so we can hang out with our favourite chef, Simon Rimmer (and hopefully get him to cook for us). Yep, we’re shameless. But we got you all the inside gossip to make up for it.

You’re welcome, dear reader!

Q How did you get into cooking?

I’ve always been surrounded by food. My Mum and Dad are both good cooks and my Dad’s family are Italian, so we were surrounded by food all of our lives. Professionally, when I was at college and studied Fashion Textile Design, I worked in bars and restaurants like lots of students do and just fell in love with the industry.

I worked as a freelance designer for five years and then, in 1990, I decided I wanted a complete change of career so I gave it all up, bought a restaurant and taught myself to cook. Continue reading

On the sofa with… Organic Burst

Ekaterina Igumentseva left her job in the City to set up a company that would make a difference – a company that would combine sustainable development with helping people to feel better in their day-to-day lives.

Today, she’s Founder of Organic Burst supplements. Let’s find out more.

Image of Ekaterina

Ocado: Obviously, sustainability is important to you – what initiatives have you seen that have really impressed?

Ekaterina: Sustainability, for us, goes much further than the usual idea of just sourcing raw materials responsibly.

Sure, this is a big piece of the puzzle and we’ve seen many impressive results on that front. For example, our non-profit partner, PhytoTrade Africa, reports to us of thousands of families are now able to generate a sustainable income due to rising Baobab demand. In Brazil, we know from our local cooperative partners that vast areas of the Amazon are now under strict protection to preserve trees, curbing deforestation and the destruction of biodiversity. These are really fantastic things and you as our customers are all a very real part of it.

But for us it’s about running a sustainable business. Every detail of Organic Burst is designed with the big picture in mind – our prices are affordable, our products are of the highest organic quality, our packaging is fully recyclable, we make the products easy to understand and fun to take.

Image of the Organic Burst range

O: Why do you believe that going organic matters?

E: Because being organic calls for our products to be 100% pure – no fillers, additives, chemicals or controversial ingredients.

For example, high up the Andes Mountains (4,000m above sea level) where our maca comes from, the farmers grow four plant varieties together – this technique strengthens the plants and naturally protects against pests. Our spirulina is grown in pure mineral water without Chilean Nitrate – a controversial fertiliser widely used in algae cultivation however banned by organic standards as an environmental contaminant.

Organic standards also go beyond cultivation methods. They contain guidance on social responsibility, as well as environmental and agricultural principles. For instance in Malawi, where our Baobab powder comes from, the harvesters of organic fruit are paid a premium over and above the standard rate. Trees and the entire ecosystems in the organic certified areas are protected from being chopped down as opposed to those outside the organic reserves. This is crucial for the environment and the lives of the local people.

Always look for the EU Certification mark on the product – it is a guarantee that the product fully adheres to these strict organic standards.

O: How far do you think your personal ethics and beliefs influence the products you create?

E: Our key belief is ‘win/win’ – everyone in the chain must win. This allows us to strive for the best and enables us to deliver superior quality products and service. It’s what motivates us and what allows us to work even seven days a week.

As long as our customers continue to report such fantastic health benefits, and we continue to grow demand together, that helps the local communities we source our materials from. We are achieving ‘win/win’ together.

In terms of ethics, the most important aspects for us are being gentle, honest and proper in every possible way. That is the foundation of Organic Burst.

O: You work with Fair Trade cooperatives and non-profit organisations. What impact is this having?

E: All of our sourcing activities have positive impacts on both people and the environment.

We have reports from PhytoTrade Africa that millions of people have directly benefited from the increase in Baobab demand. Thousands of families were living on only £65 a year!

The best person to tell you about these very real impacts is someone directly affected. Patuma Msyenda, from Maldeco-Mechesi village, Southern Malawi tells us, “I have made enough money from the Baobab business to start a small kiosk in my village. I have also built a house for us to live in and bought a plot of land. I no longer have to depend on anyone else to take care of me or my children – I am a home owner and a businesswoman with big plans! I also sell fish and grow maize to feed my family and help neighbours in need. It is important to be respectful of the Baobabs and help preserve them for the women who come after me.”

O: You obviously do a lot of research into some very unusual ingredients. Tell us about some of the most weird and wonderful ones.

E: In our quest we have definitely come across many weird and wonderful creations of nature – some with amazing properties (watch this space) and some which we wouldn’t want to put you through…

One that particularly gets smiles raised around the OB office is the ‘Poo Fruit’. Somewhat childish of us – agreed!

It’s referred to by many as the Poo Fruit due to its very… umm… ‘special’ smell. There are even strict regulations in some Asian countries forbidding it on public transport and airplanes!

O: If you could sum up Organic Burst in a pop song, which would it be?

E: We want to bring light into peoples lives, so what better song to represent Organic Burst than Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles.

‘Here comes the sun…do do do do…and I say it’s alright…’

O: Good choice! Thanks for your time

Shop for Organic Burst

Read on:

On the sofa with… The Collective Dairy

On the sofa with… Painted Wolf Wines

On the sofa with… Natoora

On the sofa with… Natoora

From top London chefs to passionate home cooks, Natoora has a dedicated following. They source fantastic produce from markets and growers across France, Italy and the UK.

Here’s our one-on-one with Managing Director, Franco Fubini, to find out how they do it.

Image of Natoora's Managing Director, Franco

Ocado: Of all that delicious produce, if you could only eat one fruit or veg for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Franco: Marinda Tomatoes – a green and red winter/spring variety from Sicily with a thick skin, wonderful crunchy texture and salty yet sweet flavour. By far the best tomatoes I have ever eaten.

O: You have such a diverse range from around Europe. How do you find new produce?

F: We look for the new by searching for the old and ancient varieties! By working with small, passionate growers, who care about the flavour of the produce rather than the yield of the plant, we are able to get our hands on a wonderful array of beautiful produce that consumers have lost touch with.

Image of Natoora Miyagawa satsumas

O: So what’s the furthest length you’ve gone to, to source produce?

F: We often find great produce comes from smaller scale growers, and it is a leap of faith for them to start supplying us. One of our varieties of tomatoes comes from a grower that we had to visit five times over a year before we finally persuaded him. Every year it’s a negotiation to get started again once the season begins.

Image of Natoora tomatoes

O: Only an Italian can answer this next question… Fresh or dried pasta, and why?

F: I love fresh pasta but they are very distinct products, each with its own use.

image of Natoora fresh egg linguine

O: If you were a super hero, what would be your special power?

F: I travel a lot and airports and flying are the worst part whether you are travelling for business or holidays. So being able to teleport myself instantly to where I need to be would be very useful.

O: Thanks for your time

Read on:

On the sofa with… The Collective Dairy

On the sofa with… Painted Wolf Wines

On the sofa with… Organic Burst

Shop for Natoora

Grab yourself a free karahi with this week’s shop

It’s National Curry Week and to celebrate we’ve got a cracking offer for curry lovers. Thanks to Patak’s, you can add a free karahi to your trolley this week when you buy the ingredients for a slap up dish of your choosing.

We’ve also interviewed Manish Sharma, the Executive Development Chef from Patak’s, to find out more about the thinking behind the Patak’s range.

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Manish, what does your role involve at Patak’s?

I work as the development chef in the Innovation department for the brand Patak’s. I develop all the recipes i.e. pastes, sauces, pickles, chutney etc. or any other product sold under Patak’s brand for global market. I also work with third party manufacturers and develop products to be sold under this brand name. I work closely with chefs from different companies and teach them the basics of Indian cuisine.

I started cooking at a very small age just by looking at my mother, how she would cook different dishes. I would help her and ask her questions about the spices and cooking methods. From there my passion for cooking food took me to my catering collage and then to Taj Group of Hotels in India. I trained under the best of the Indian master chefs who taught me the advance skills of Indian cuisine. After working in India for 7 years I came to the UK. After working in different hotels and opening restaurants I started working as development chef in Kerry foods, S&A foods and now in ABWF.

Do you think the British taste for curry has evolved over the years? After all, the Patak family has been producing and selling Indian food in Britain for generations – you guys should know!

I think British taste has evolved a lot in past few years – that’s the reason Madras and Jalfrezi has taken over from Chicken Tikka Masala as the nation’s favourite curry. I think the British consumer is getting educated with a wide variety that Indian cuisine has to offer and the consumers are not scared any more of strong spice flavours. They want to try new and regional Indian dishes. 

What’s your desert island curry? The one you could eat forever if you had to?

My desert island curry would be a home-style chicken curry or a Dhaba Murgh (road side restaurant chicken curry). I like this one particularly as the flavours are real flavour of spices without adding any cream, coconut or butter. This is how you would make at home 2, 3, 4 times in a week. Humble chicken curry with boiled rice or a plain chapati is what I would have any time every time.

KormaMadrasJalfrezi etc. are loved all over the country. How would you use these sauces to create something more unusual, a little experimental?

These sauces I have used for making pasta dishes, pies, as base sauce for pizza, mixed with mayo and served as masala mayo. The list could be enormous. It’s all about creativity. 

We’ve waved our last farewell to summer. How does your cooking change as we move into autumn?

Autumn brings root vegetable curries and dry preparations complemented with some warming spices. Lots of breads instead of rice – in India, rice is considered to have cold internal properties. Meat dishes will be more lamb and chicken thigh preparations accompanied with fried breads.

So, in our latest offer customers can get a free karahi. Could you explain what that is and why we should be popping them in our trolleys?

Karahi means a wok. In an Indian kitchen this will be used to make some dry or semi dry dishes and stir fry dishes and most importantly for frying breads and pakoras. So you can make some dry bhindi Dopiaza i.e. okra Dopiaza, something like a karahi paneer with some peppers and crushed coriander seeds. 

Right, we’re going home to knock up a curry. What shall we put on the stereo to inspire us as we cook?

I like to listen some classic Indian instrumental music by some of the great artists India has given to this world.

Thanks for your time Manish!

Sophie – Ocado Marketing