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Sammi’s Gourmet Treats

Published:Thursday | February 4, 2016 | 12:00 AMKrysta Anderson

Something sweet from Sammi's

If you love a little something sweet, then maybe you should take a taste of Sammi's Gourmet treats. Food had a little 'jam' session with owner and creator of Samantha Fung recently about her flavourful line of products.

Fung is no stranger to the kitchen, telling Food she has always loved to cook and experiment with food. Her culinary flight began when her son requested a bottle of her signature escoveitch pickle.

"When I did not respond, he kept asking and eventually when I told him I was going to do it, he left and came back with two dozen beautiful bottles."

She continued, "I protested by telling him I was only making a few bottles and asked what were we going to do with the excess. He responded by telling me to just make what I had enough material for and not to worry about the rest. I made about a dozen bottles and he sold them to family and family."

In that same week, she received a huge bundle of sorrel from a friend. She thought it was too much just to make the drink, so she tried her hand at sorrel jam and it came out beautifully. Those too, she noted, were sold in short order and response was great. "My eyes were instantly opened to all the fruits that are often wasted, and that was how I got into the business of making jams." From there, she buckled up, and was ready for take off.

She has experienced some turbulence along the way when it comes to gathering the relevant information, inconsistency in the supply of some packaging material and working around seasonal items. "Getting retail partners were somewhat of a challenge in the beginning. I overcome that by learning as I go along to stock pile seasonal fruits and other raw materials."

But for the most part, however, the journey has been a fulfilling one, charged with positive feedback. "We've got comments from folks from social media expressing their love for the products. We've received emails from people abroad who have received the products as gifts from friends and relatives who have given glowing reviews and requesting that we inform them as soon as the product is available abroad. Certain individuals in the food and manufacturing industry have also expressed their love for the products as well. That always keeps me motivated."

But you know what they say, the proof is in the taste, and currently, there are five jam flavours in Sammi's Gourmet Treats to choose from: guava, sorrel, orange-coconut, tamarind and pomegranate-java. "I used to help my mother make guava jam, so it was just a matter of experimenting with other fruits that were more suitable for jam making than others and some work better as a combination, but it has been fun playing around with different flavours," Fung confessed.

The jams are very versatile, and she has used them as a glaze for meats like chicken and ham. "I've also used them to make salad dressings, filling for dumplings, cakes and cookies," she revealed.

Her products have landed in food ports such as MegaMart (Kingston and Portmore), Things Jamaican (Devon House, Norman Manley International Airport), Loshusan Supermarket (Barbican), Lee's Food Fair (Red Hills Road), Brooklyn Supermarket (Twin Gates), Craft Cottage (Village Plaza), ReggaeMart (Sangster International Airport) and Hungry D's CafÈ (Freeport Montego Bay). Fung is looking to get more retail partners, expand the line of products into sauces, and grow the business to provide employment.

Her advice to aspiring culinary entrepreneurs: "Do your research and get as much information as you can. There's a lot of information that can be found at the Bureau of Standard Jamaica, Scientific Research Council, Jamaica Manufacturers' Association and the Jamaica Business Development Co-operation. I'd also advise people who have an interest in the food industry to just start. Get the information, then apply it and be patient. Persevere through the setbacks and difficulties that will come along. Most importantly, believe in yourself and work hard. There will be a lot of things that won't be in your control, but the one thing that will be is effort."