They say that every cloud has a silver lining – and that certainly proved to be the case for high-flying businesswoman Dionne Darnell when she was made redundant from her job while on maternity leave. Previously working as an operations manager at Exxon Mobil, she decided to use the opportunity for a new start to launch her own artisan business, Deelicious, producing homemade chilli jams.
“I had been making my chilli jams for quite some time, just for fun, giving them to friends for Christmas and taking them along to barbecues and such like,” says Dionne. “Anyway, my friends were always raving about them so, when the opportunity arose, I decided to try selling them at food festivals and so on, and it all just went from there.
“Although I don’t have a culinary background, I have always loved cooking, so it’s wonderful to be doing that for a living. And, in fact, it all worked out very much for the best as running my own business from home has also enabled me to spend more time with my daughter.”
Today, Dionne produces three delicious flavours: the Classic Chilli Jam (£3.95), a sweet and spicy relish with just the right amount of warmth to adorn a cheeseboard; the Chipotle Chilli Jam (£3.95), which has a warming, smoky flavour that works well in soups and stews; and Habanero Chilli Jam (£3.95), a fiery, fruity little relish that is the hottest of the range. All three have a devoted following among chilli lovers – and one of them is even an award-winner now with the Chipotle Chilli Jam gaining a coveted star at this year’s Great Taste Awards.
“It was fantastic to receive that recognition from such a respected national body,” continues Dionne. “The Chipotle Chilli Jam has a really lovely warming, smoky flavour that works well with roast pork or is fantastic on a burger. It also complements fresh salmon very well.”
With some exciting plans for the year ahead (watch this space for more details soon), we’re pretty sure that won’t be the last of the awards for these mouth-wateringly good jams.
“Every batch is made by me, at home, with no fancy machines or gadgets – just a big pan , a wooden spoon, lots of love and a helluva lot of stirring!” laughs Dionne. “I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.”