Northampton entrepreneur wins national award after turning kitchen into pickle production line
Gita Raikundalia's pickle relish recipe was inspired from her trip to Chicago, where she tried Giardiniera for the first time
A Northampton-based entrepreneur has won a national business award after transforming her kitchen into a pickle production line.
Founder of Nakasero Foods, Gita Raikundalia was inspired by a trip to Chicago, where she first tried Giardiniera, a relish made from pickled vegetables, which has been a firm favourite in the city since the late nineteenth century after being introduced by Italian immigrants.
On returning home, Gita was unable to find her new favourite condiment on UK shelves, so decided to recreate the recipe herself.
When friends and family all gave great feedback, Gita realised her product’s potential and quit her job to launch her business in February 2020 - just one month before the UK's first national lockdown.
Gita said: “Food has always been my passion and, after I’d fallen in love with Giardiniera, I was surprised no one had really heard of it in the UK. It’s a real burst of flavour and goes great with anything from pizza to salads.
“We had a really successful launch and the whole family helped out. When the pandemic hit, it was a big blow but I was determined not to let the business die.
“We’ve got a strong vision and lots of ambition. In five years’ time I’d like Nakasero Foods to be a recognised brand with a range of 10 or 15 products.”
After the launch of Nakasero Foods, Gita quickly signed up more then 30 retailers to stock her Giardiniera - including local restaurants Nuovo and The Pizza Hole - but, when the pandemic forced her retail partners to close their doors, Gita started selling directly to customers online and using her social media to build her business' profile.
The easing of restrictions eventually allowed Gita to hold tastings for her relish and word quickly spread from everyday customers to chefs and bloggers.
By November 2020, Nakasero Foods won two gold awards and three silver awards at the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drinks Awards as well as several other award nominations.
Earlier this year, Gita expanded her range with Marmalata, an Italian chili jam that also comes in a spicy version for those who like an extra kick.
Gita has now almost doubled the size of her business and - having outgrown her kitchen at home - is seeking a manufacturing partner so she can scale up production to meet demand.
Nakasero Foods has been named a winner in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2021 awards, which celebrate small and local businesses across the UK. The business was selected in recognition of how creatively and quickly it adapted to the challenges of the last year and how it went over and above expectations.
Managing director of SME and mid corporates at Lloyds Bank, Paul Gordon, said: "Gita’s story is inspiring. She is creating some really distinctive products and has been incredibly determined and adaptable, facing up to the challenges of the past year with entrepreneurial resolve. I’m sure it will help her business achieve its full potential.
"Nakasero Foods is truly deserving of this award.”
As a prize, Gita wins a mentoring session with co-founder of the boutique hotel travel specialists 'Mr & Mrs Smith', Tamara Lohan MBE. Tamara will provide insight and support to help Gita navigate new opportunities and grow her business in the year ahead.
The creative entrepreneur is now working to develop new products, inspired by world cuisines including Korea, Japan and Greece.
For more information about Nakasero Foods and recipes including giardiniera, visit https://www.nakasero.com/.