The world is being united in taste as consumer palates develop and exotic flavours from around the world cross borders. But, while you can easily find TexMex, Mediterranean, Indian, Chinese and Thai cuisines on most supermarket shelves these days, there is nothing that is uniquely African. And that is why Debbie Alcock, and her chef husband Tim, went to explore what the continent had to offer. From this, they have developed the range of convenient and unique products, under the label Gourmet Africa, which is bound to create a new food revolution.
‘There is a big move into Africa, but very few people really know what the authentic food tastes like – let alone the differences between each country,’ explains Debbie Alcock. ‘At one time, anything coming from Africa was viewed with suspicion, which is not surprising, as there are no HACCP regulations to be adhered to.’
Having been born in Tanzania (her father, Jack, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for shooting crocodiles), she was exposed to raw Africa from a very early age, and it has become an obsession to introduce the world to what authentically, uniquely African flavours. The range incorporates 23 products of ready-made, ready-to-heat sauces (just add protein or starch), curry sauces, mayonnaise, soups and so forth that contain no preservatives, additives or artificial flavourings or colourants.
‘We converted an old established fish factory in Worcester into a green factory, including making our own biofuels, using solar and cultivating a worm farm,’ explains Alcock, who also make the award winning De Breede organic wines (listed in Platters). ‘As such, we ensure that all the ingredients that go into our products are grown in socially responsible and environmentally sustaining African farm projects.’ The products go beyond just offering a new taste experience, but inspire with descriptions of the tradition and entertainment of eating this particular meal in its home country. For example, Doro Wat cook-in-sauce is a spicy Ethiopian stew (usually made with chicken) flavoured with berberre paste and served traditionally with hardboiled eggs. It is also eaten with ‘indura’ lacy bread), that essentially covers the dining table; chunks are torn off by hand and dipped into the stew.
The company also manufactures a range of house brands for leading retailers such as Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay, trading as Burchells Foods.