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A family-run food business has ambitious plans for growth and it is thanks to Grandad Charlie’s secret recipe for piccalilli which is proving a winner with foodies and UK Steel Enterprise. 

Calder’s Kitchen took its first steps around three years ago when Darlington couple Andrew and Anne-Marie Calder discovered Grandad Charlie’s recipe, made a first batch of his piccalilli in their kitchen and tried it out on family and friends.

It proved a hit and they decided to combine their experience in food, sales, business and customer service to launch their own company. The traditional Piccalilli has since been joined by Chillilli and the extra spicy Sillylilli.

They are all flying off the shelves in a fast-growing number of outlets including artisan grocers, butchers, farm shops, at food festivals and in cafes and restaurants. The hand-made, vegan friendly piccalilli has won a Great Taste Award and another from Theo Paphitis’s Small Business Sunday.

UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel business support subsidiary, has now provided a £7,500 loan from its Regeneration Fund to help Calder’s Kitchen develop its online selling, packaging and social media.

“We had been looking for support and an injection of cash,” said Andrew “and the help came at exactly the right time. Everyone has been so helpful, and we have already recommended UKSE to other businesses.

“It is a very busy time for us as we have a young family too but we are delighted with the way the business has grown. And I’m sure Grandad Charlie would be too.”

Calder’s Kitchen expects to grow its current 65 retail outlets, mainly in the North at the moment, to around 100 by the spring, and double that again across the UK this year. They also sell through wholesale outlets, social media, food fairs and online at www.calderskitchen.co.uk .

“We will be creating two jobs in sales and administration that will help boost our UK growth and are looking at export too with North America, Asia, Europe and South Africa all potential areas for us,” said Andrew.

“We hope to announce a contract with a major food manufacturer very soon that involves providing two of our lines for a new product and are in talks with a leading supermarket and a national wholesale distributor.

“If this progress continues we expect to be looking for premises and further investment in the near future,” he added.

Peter Taylor of UK Steel Enterprise said: “Businesses in their early stages can find it difficult to raise a relatively small amount of money that, nevertheless, is vital at that time. We were impressed not only by Grandad Charlie’s recipe but also by the progress Calder’s Kitchen has made to date.”

PICTURE CAPTION: (From left) Peter Taylor of funder UK Steel Enterprise with Anna and Diane Blackwell of Blackwells Butchers, one of a growing number of outlets stocking Calder’s Kitchen piccalillis, and Andrew Calder.