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New Future50 members reveal their fresh sauces

PUBLISHED: 15:48 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:57 27 March 2018

Mark Robinson and Victoria Monaghan of Taste Collectiv. Picture: Lucy Taylor

Mark Robinson and Victoria Monaghan of Taste Collectiv. Picture: Lucy Taylor

New Future50 member Taste Collectiv wants to spice up your dinner.

Mark Robinson of East Anglian-based Taste Collectiv has an infectious energy about him. The ambitious 30-year-old and his partner Victoria Monaghan (manager and buyer at Leo’s Deli in Framlingham) were honoured to be initiated into Archant’s Future50 this month – giving them recognition as one of the region’s most innovative companies.

The entrepreneur is animated with enthusiasm and passion as he describes the fresh sauce business which he and Vic launched (in 2014) from scratch, and which counts Cherie Blair and John Terry as regular, satisfied customers.

So confident are the duo about the potential of their business that Mark bought a banged up car recently, drove to Holland to pick-up the ex CEO of Unilever, and pitched to him on the way to his next meeting!

In short, Mark and Vic know their products (a range of six sauces) are good, but they need investment to be able to fill orders such as the one levelled at them by Hello Fresh, which wanted a quarter of a million units of their pesto after just one taste, not long after Taste Collectiv was launched. How many small businesses can claim such success after just a few months in business?

“We are really small at the moment,” says Mark. “It’s a micro company, but if we get this right we will be one of the biggest success stories in the region for food.”

“We want to change the way we buy sauces in the UK,” he adds, saying all the sauces in the range are heavily researched, and made with the best ingredients and no preservatives, just as you’d create them in your own kitchen. “At the BBC food show at Olympia an Italian woman hugged me and told me our pesto is just as good as her grandma’s.”

Pesto is really where the Taste Collectiv journey started. Mark and Vic spent a sunny holiday touring Italy and fell head over heels for the foodie culture. “We did the usual and made our sad plans of where we were going to eat. But cheap food – something for around 5 Euros. In Venice a couple of guys had hand-rolled pasta with five sauces to choose from and one of them was pesto. It was mindblowing. This was really cheesy with lots of pine nuts and olive oil. They are the main ingredients, but in the UK we stuff our pesto with basil because it’s cheap.

“We thought we could make it at home the authentic way, without compromise. We’re trying to convert people and restore their faith in sauces.”

Today there are six sauces in the range (including the pesto), available both online, at shops such as Suffolk Food Hall, and various farmers’ markets.

The harissa is almost black (it shouldn’t be red, says Mark) made with smoky ancho chillies, cumin, caraway, cinnamon and fresh mint.

“This is the one chefs go nuts for,” Mark says of the chermoula, which is a blend of preserved lemon, sumac, saffron and dried chilli.

Vic’s favourite is the Thai red sauce, made with hand crushed shrimp paste, chilli, galangal and kaffir lime leaves.

The peri peri bursts with the vibrancy of lemon and lime juice.

And the romesco sauce, crafted from piquillo peppers, smoked paprika and almonds, crisps up on white fish under the grill like a Mediterranean satay. “Men love that,” Mark laughs.

You can try Taste Collectiv sauces at this year’s Hadleigh Show and Suffolk Show, and at Creake Abbey Farmers’ Market in north Norfolk.

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