On a sunny Friday afternoon on Main Street in Radium Hot Springs, Dave Sutherland is at once setting up his tent for the evening farmer’s market, chitchatting to the hand-printed T-shirt vendor next door and answering my never-ending questions about his hot pepper jelly. Oh, and taking a few playful jabs from wife and company co-owner Kathy, who is there briefly to chat with us. The duo is clearly used to being busy, and Kathy admits that the past couple of years have been exceptionally hectic as business has been heating up. As I sample the rhubarb jelly, I know why.
“People love the taste,” says Dave. ”It’s not just hot, it’s flavourful.
”It’s so flavourful, in fact, that Dave has been making his jelly for over 25 years at the request of friends and family. It wasn’t until 12 years ago after meeting Kathy that he considered turning his delicious hobby into a business. Kathy, a self-described “hardcore entrepreneur” with an extensive background in sales, shared Dave’s passion for fiery foods and encouraged his entrepreneurial side.
“I thought, ‘Okay, if this relationship works out, we’re going to change the jars, then do this, then do that,’” Kathy laughs.
Obviously it did work out, and for the past eight years Dave and Kathy have been pouring themselves into the family business, doing everything from processing peppers and labeling jars to filling out permits and managing a busy Facebook page.
“We put a lot of care in our business,” Kathy says. “We love what we do.”
With all 10 flavours hand made by the Sutherlands one batch at a time, and most of the produce sourced in beautiful B.C., their zesty jellies have more taste than you can shake a jalapeno at. Although the flavours all contain the same amount of peppers (except the zesty best-seller strawberry habanero), some are hotter than others, says Dave. If you’re feeling mild, opt for the blueberry – Dave and Kathy’s son Jake eats it straight out of the jar! For more zing, he recommends the spicier pomegranate. And since he loves experimenting with new flavours, keep your eyes out for new products coming soon.