What's a 'Spicery'?
Spicery is an ancient word literally meaning a place where spices are produced or stored. In the Age of Exploration, traders would talk of sailing to the Spiceries - the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the coasts of India where spices were originally grown. Back in Europe many grand houses had their own Spicery which was a separate office where the spices and the most valuable ingredients for the kitchens were stored.
It may be an old word but we're aiming to give it a bit of an update. All the colours we use in our packaging represent those same colours you see in the buildings as you travel around these spice-producing countries - all those vivid blues, reds and yellows painted on uncoated walls. We aim to capture some of that colour and vibrancy and produce products that make using spices easy, accessible and enjoyable in our modern kitchens.
Centuries ago everyone knew that spices came from the Spicery, now we can all remember it again!
What do we do at the Spicery?
Although most of the work here is involved in actually producing the product each month - measuring, grinding and packing spices, then assembling orders and sending them out the door, the heart of it all is the test kitchen above the warehouse.
Here, development chefs Alice and Matt cook every day, testing recipes which we enjoy for our staff lunch (or occasionally mid-afternoon, when it’s a dessert!)
Where do the recipes come from?
The whole fun of what we do is bringing a bit of the wider world into your own kitchen - trying something new and recreating some of those amazing flavours from favourite places around the world. Everyone here is encouraged (and even incentivised as we pay staff bonuses to travel) to discover new recipe ideas from around the world . Recent travels have taken us to Bodinayakanur, India’s cardamon capital - Tamil Nadu - a wedding in Yucatan, a gourmet tour of Ghana, food and football in Marseilles, all over the world in fact … and that’s just within a year! The recipes and memories of food we've eaten overseas then go into our recipe development, and maybe turn up in future spiceboxes that arrive through your letterbox!
We also draw on the experiences and knowledge of our staff, many of whom were either born overseas, or have family links around the world. We employ lots of international students from the local universities to help at busy times, and they're often keen to show off their favourite dishes from back home, provide some insight or verify a taste so our recipes are as authentic as possible.
Alongside this, over the years we've built up a network of cooks and friends all over the world who send recipes, suggestions and feedback. These are individuals and chefs who we ask for advice, contribute recipe ideas or who assist our research when visiting the country.
Our link-up with Refugee Action and Bristol Refugee Rights has built this network even further so that we now have a group of new Bristolians originally from all round the world (Sudan to Kurdistan, Jamaica to Iran) who come in and cook with us from time to time. It's a project that has had so many benefits - from helping the refugees themselves feel more valued and integrated, to our staff learning more about their stories and experiences, to just the human value of sharing wonderful food together and getting to know each other.