Eating on the Job: Fergus Chamberlain, Gran Luchito

By
Eve O'Sullivan
Added
14 August, 2015

We talk to El Capitan of Gran Luchito, Fergus Chamberlain, about why he fell in love with smoked chillies, and what it's like to start your own food business.


I’m El Capitan of Gran Luchito; a company that sells smoked chilli products from Mexico, or as I like to call them, little pots of Mexican magic.

Gran Luchito translates into English as ‘The Great Little Fighter’ – he’s small but he packs a big punch! Having always worked in the food industry, training as a chef in kitchens in New York and working in France, and prior to that being a buyer sourcing the highest quality products for supermarkets, I knew that one day I would start my own food business. However, it wasn’t until I came across the incredible Pasilla Oaxaca chilli on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico’s foodie capital in the south of the country, that I knew what that business would be. Now that humble chilli is the backbone of what we do at Gran Luchito, giving us our trademark smoky heat.

It all started 2012 on a stall at Maltby Street food market in South East London; on the first day I sold 27 pots of our smoked chilli paste.

From this small beginning, we’ve been very fortunate to get picked up by some great shops. You can now find Gran Luchito all over the United Kingdom, in Sweden, Ireland, the USA and from this September, ‘down under’, in Australia. There are four products in the range: a smoked chilli paste, smoked chilli mayonnaise, smoked chilli honey and a smoked chilli ketchup. Being a team of two people, our roles are hugely varied. One day we might be sampling our smoked chilli range at a food festival, and the next we’ll be tasting samples ourselves for potential new products in the range. There’s always plenty to do. In that sense, there aren’t too many average days. The most enjoyable aspects of the job are when we’re coming up with recipes for our website; we’re constantly thinking of new ways to use our smoked chilli range and getting that just right is a fun challenge. Plus we get to eat well afterwards, which is always good.


It’s always a nice surprise when people come to our stand at food shows and tell us they’ve tried Gran Luchito before.

I’m always keen to find out how they came across us, and of course, what their favourite way to use it is. Perhaps one of the more unusual elements are our discussions for new recipe ideas… sometimes they can be a little wacky.


What’s my favourite product? That’s a toughy. It’d be like choosing a favourite child!

I love different elements of all of them. The smoked chilli paste was where it all began, so that’s special. It’s also the most versatile in terms of what you can do with it cooking-wise. The mayo and ketchup are both incredibly moreish and perfect for chips and burgers etc. Then you’ve got the smoked chilli honey, which is always a big hit with serious food lovers; I’d definitely consider myself one of those, so that’s a special one for me as well.


I’ve always believed in what we’re doing at Gran Luchito. When you’ve got an ingredient that’s as special as the one we have, it’s not hard to remain enthusiastic about it.

From the start, we’ve been received incredibly well by the food industry as well as the general public, so there’s never been any doubt about it. Food festivals are always a long slog in terms of standing hours, but they’re also great fun. You can’t beat meeting new people all day and telling them about something you’re passionate about. It’s incredibly rewarding when people taste our products and show enthusiasm back. It makes the whole thing worthwhile.


The hardest part is switching off from it.

We’re still a small start-up and, as I said, there’s always work to be done, so being able to turn off the computer and relax is tricky, but absolutely necessary of course. I think it’s crucial when starting a business to really believe in what you’re doing, and to always try to improve. There are always things you can do better and constantly striving to achieve those things will keep your business moving in the right direction.


Find out more about Gran Luchito here


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