876 Chef Champion saucing the world with crazy combinations
Amid the desperation and uncertainty of the pandemic, Chef Julian Bartley, like many others in the food industry, shifted their offerings to fit the increasingly isolated society in which we found ourselves. Soon realising that the market for at-home chefs delivering food was oversaturated, Bartley decided to make his private passion his profession, through the 876 Chef Champion line of gourmet sauces.
Reflecting on the year 2019, when Bartley, alongside his collaborators Denee Gilman, Thomas Chin Funder, Trevor Brown, and Patrice Blackwell, began envisioning their product, he described it as a moment of pure creative synergy.
“It’s four of us who came up with the idea and as a team we figured it out. Of course, we needed a niche product so it was really just brainstorming to come up with this combination,” he explained. It was another year during the heights of the pandemic when they decided to take the leap.
“We pivoted towards sauces, specifically niche sauces. We tried to make products that are different and geared towards the Jamaican culture and lifestyle,” Bartley told Food.
Starting with the Spicy Smoked Escoveitch Herring Dip, people were initially hesitant when they learned of the mixture of the bold flavours.
“Then, we came up with a barbecue sauce with Wray and Nephew White Rum and Otaheite and tips of Red Delicious apples. That is a niche product as well and we are working to create seven more niche products down the line,” he said.
“With the people at events, I would say ‘aye, would you like to try some barbecue chicken with Otaheite apples?’ And they’d look at me strange. They’d be like, ‘What? Hmm, sounds different’ then they’d taste it and be like ‘wow, give me one!’ So it tastes better than it sounds and even the way it sounds, it’s not that strange because the Otaheite is not that overwhelming.”
Soon becoming a popular Christmas gift among particular groups, Bartley says he is grateful to share his love of food with the world.
“I love sauces. I always was infatuated with sauces. The different types like Teriyaki and all kinds like Chinese sauces. Then, I love Italian food so all of these things help my creativity to kind of use my culture to create something for my culture and then give it to the rest of the world.”
Using his 25 years of experience as a chef, Bartley says their next step is to create and perfect more ‘crazy combinations’ for Jamaica and the world.
“Perfection is a must and we just keep striving to be the best and continue to perfect our gift and our goals and the product that we make.”