A Northampton woman turned her kitchen into a pickle production line after an inspirational trip to Chicago.
Gita Raikundalia first tried Giardiniera while in the USA, a relish made from pickled vegetables that has been a firm favourite in the city after being introduced by Italian immigrants.
On returning home, she was unable to find her new favourite condiment on UK shelves.
Gita then decided to recreate the recipe herself and when friends and family all gave great feedback, she realised her product’s potential.
Nakasero Foods was started after Gita quit her job in February 2020, just a month before the UK’s first national coronavirus lockdown.
The firm quickly signed up more than 30 retailers to stock her Giardiniera.
When her retail partners were forced to close their doors, she started selling direct to consumers online and using social media to build Nakasero’s profile.
Gita said: “Food has always been my passion and, after I’d fallen in love with Giardiniera, I was surprised no one had really heard of it in the UK.
“It’s a real burst of flavour and goes great with anything from pizza to salads.
“We had a really successful launch and the whole family helped out. When the pandemic hit it was a big blow, but I was determined not to let the business die.
“We’ve got a strong vision and lots of ambition. In five years’ time, I’d like Nakasero Foods to be a recognised brand with a range of 10 or 15 products.”
Earlier this year, Gita expanded her range with Marmalata – an Italian chilli jam that also comes in a spicy version for those who like an extra kick.
As the size of her business doubled, it outgrew her kitchen at home and she is now seeking a manufacturing partner to scale up production to meet demand.
Nakasero Foods has also been named a winner in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2021 awards, which celebrate the small and local outlets across the UK.
The business was selected in recognition of how creatively and quickly it adapted to the challenges of the last year, and how it went over and above expectations.
The prize is a mentoring session with Tamara Lohan MBE, co-founder of the boutique hotel travel specialist Mr & Mrs Smith.
Tamara will provide insight and support to help Gita navigate new opportunities and grow her business in the year ahead.
Nakasero Foods is now working to develop new products, inspired by cuisines from Korea, Japan and Greece.
Paul Gordon, managing director of SME and Mid Corporates at Lloyds Bank, said: “Gita’s story is inspiring.
“She is creating some really distinctive products and has been incredibly determined and adaptable, facing up to the challenges of the past year with entrepreneurial resolve.
“I’m sure it will help her business achieve its full potential. Nakasero Foods is truly deserving of this award.”
You can follow Nakasero Foods on Facebook here.