Oh what a thrill it is to see your business featured on screen and to hear its name up there on the television. Even if it is only a paid advertisement, just knowing that your name and business is blowing unannounced into 95% of the homes in this country (or at least those that don’t mute the ads) is enough to send a shiver down the spine of the most cynical of small business owners. And how much more exciting is it when the person live on screen, who wraps their lips around the words “Kaitaia Fire” is the lovely Nigella Lawson, Food Goddess.

Nigella was very much an unexpected thrill, when I was first approached by Holly Whittaker of the famous Whittaker’s chocolate, about the possibility of a collaborative project. Initially of course I was flattered that people at an iconic brand like Whittakers (reputably the most respected New Zealand brand name) had heard of us, let alone considered us worthy of a partnership.

But thinking about it later I realised what a fabulous idea it was, so clever that I was amazed I hadn’t personally thought of it! The Incas from South America and the Aztecs and Mayans of Central America had been blending these two magical ingredients together for thousands of years, well before Chris Colombus washed up on their shores. Even now it is hard to find a restaurant somewhere in the Americas, that doesn’t boast at least one chili mole dish. Usually turkey or poultry, but all lashed with a sauce made from unsweetened chocolate and chili.

So what a blend eh? My two favourite ingredients together in one easy to use package. And it has to be said that the package is visually stunning as well. Taking the small icons familiar to all Kiwi kids from the covers of the exercise books we filled with our earnest scribble, and printing them in an organic look plum tone, Whittakers have created a nostalgic blend of images amped up for the now generation.

Whittakers chocolate

The 50% chocolate is sweet, but not too sweet and the lingering flavour of the Kaitaia Fire sauce used provides just enough heat to satisfy serious chiliheads without frightening small children. A marriage made in heaven and blessed personally by an English Goddess.

The effect on our small company has been massive. Forget about the extra cash flow involved immediately in the sale of the sauce to Whittakers, and think of the flow on effects. We have been exposed to a whole segment of food buyers who may not have been aware of us before, but can hardly deny us our turn in the spotlight now.

The television advertising has been hugely successful and seen by many people judging by the amount of feedback I have had. Initially my response to comments about the Kaitaia Fire chocolate was to adopt as casual an attitude as I could muster, and tell people we had bought Whittakers out, but I had to stop that when people less cynical than I, started to believe my tub thumping.

Care packages sent to homesick Kiwis stuck in some overseas hell, now seem to consist of Kaitaia Fire Chili Sauce, Waha Wera Kiwifruit and Habanero Pepper Sauce and bars of Whittakers Kaitaia Fire Chocolate. I have even been sent via email, (and who would have thought that possible even ten years ago) a recorded message of a Kiwi in London and his English bride calling to thank his impossibly thoughtful mum for their care package comprising just those three items. Now there’s a caring Mum!

Holly Whittaker tells me now that their Kaitaia Fire infused chocolate is the number four best selling chocolate in all the premium brands now on sale, (approximately forty).

Without access to, nor an understanding of the technology involved, it is impossible for me to quantify the extra sauce we have sold as a result of our collaboration with Whittakers, but it would have to have had a considerable effect, and be at least partly responsible for the surge in our sales of sauce.

The simple fact of getting the name out there means that your average shopper propelling that cart down supermarket aisles throughout the country, might linger for that millisecond longer in the sauce section, and think to themselves, yes I must get some more of that sauce that Mum/Dad/the kids enjoyed so much in that chocolate.

So all exposure is good exposure, and I could not recommend highly enough the positives to be gained from these sort of collaborative initiatives. Good on Whittakers for taking a punt with us, and congratulations to the genius in their marketing department who first thought of it. Yes I know it should have been me, but I was too busy filling bottles with sauce!!

And Nigella if ever you are back in New Zealand, please come and see me. I will supply you with chili sauce for the rest of your life just to hear, in person, the words Kaitaia Fire roll off your perfectly formed lips.

For further information on Kaitaia Fire check out their website – www.kaitaiafire.com.