North Taranaki Midweek
Spice girls hope to shake up seasoning market
It’s made from smoked bush pepper and salt, and two New Plymouth high school students are hoping it becomes the next big thing in food seasonings.
Kanitha Walbrecq and Nevaeh Allen, who are both 15, call their creation Ahi Tote – Fire Salt.
It’s a seasoning mix made from dried and smoked horopito leaves crushed into salt with cumin, cayenne, onion powder and garlic granules.
The horopito leaf, which is also known as bush pepper, is used as a natural medicine by Māori and is common around Taranaki.
‘‘We wanted to make something local to Taranaki, and so we decided to use horopito because it’s a native plant,’’ Nevaeh said.
The Spotswood College students started making the salt last year as a project for the Young Enterprise Scheme.
In New Plymouth it is now stocked by Mediterranean food wholesaler Vetro and Jetcharm barber shop.
It was also used by chefs at Novotel’s Hau Kai restaurant for their Matariki menu.
The salt mix is priced at $7 a bag, or $25 for a pre-filled grinder.
Nevaeh said she hoped selling the salt at Vetro would be the start of getting the product into larger stores.
‘‘One of our main goals is to get it into the supermarkets at some point because that would be really good for our business.’’
The pair’s business had also been recognised for its sustainable packaging and recipe.
‘‘So far we have won the WITT ideation validation award and the Taranaki Regional Council Sustainability Award,’’ Nevaeh said.
‘‘We have won about $600 so far from those awards.’’
Nevaeh said she was always going to make a food product and her first idea was tomato kasundi – a type of chutney with more than a dozen ingredients.
But she settled on the seasoning idea after her grandfather, who used to be a chef, floated the idea of the smoked salt.
She hoped to see the business continue to grow while planning her next product.
‘‘I hope this will continue into the future, because I’m really passionate about it, and I’ve even been thinking about maybe doing seasonal salts like a Christmas salt.’’