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Passion for pickles brings a taste of success

Gita Raikundalia

Food entrepreneur relishes her shot at the big time

A Northampton-based entrepreneur has won a national business award after turning her kitchen into a pickle production line.

Gita Raikundalia was inspired by a trip to Chicago, where she first tried Giardiniera, a relish made from pickled vegetables which has been a firm favourite in the city after being introduced by Italian immigrants.

On returning home, she could not find her new favourite condiment on UK shelves so decided to recreate the recipe herself. After encouraging feedback from family and friends, Gita realised her product’s potential and quit her job to start Nakasero Foods.

The business launched in February 2020 – just a month before the UK’s first national lockdown – and quickly signed up more than 30 retailers to stock Gita’s Giardiniera. But when retail was forced to close its doors, Gita started selling online and using social media to build Nakasero’s profile.

Earlier this year, Gita expanded her range with Marmalata, an Italian chilli jam that also comes in a spicy version. Now she has almost doubled the size of her business and, having outgrown her kitchen at home, is seeking a manufacturing partner so she can scale up production to meet demand.

Nakasero Foods has been named a winner in the Lloyds Bank Small Business of 2021 awards in recognition of how creatively and quickly it adapted to the challenges of the last year. Gita’s prize is a mentoring session with Tamara Lohan, co-founder of the boutique hotel travel specialists Mr & Mrs Smith. Ms Lohan will provide insight and support to help Gita to explore new opportunities and grow her business.

“We have got a strong vision and lots of ambition,” said Gita. “In five years’ time I would like Nakasero Foods to be a recognised brand with a range of ten or 15 products.”

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 am sure it will help her business achieve its full potential.”

Gita is now working to develop new products, inspired by world cuisines including Korea, Japan and Greece. “Food has always been my passion and after I had fallen in love with Giardiniera I was surprised no one had really heard of it in the UK,” she said.

“It is 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.”