ChilliBOM Maker Stories
Meet Kate Howell
Maker of Basketcase Hot Sauces
Hi, my name is Kate. I am an addict, and this is my story....
As an ex-professional chef, I've always loved to keep up with food trends and experiment with different flavours. I've always grown chillies at home, but one year I was given a massive load of fresh chillies by a friend and thought I'd try my hand at making my own hot sauce. It wasn't as easy as I thought and took a bit of trial and error. I did manage to figure out my personal preferences - lots of heat, good vinegar, clean tasting – and no sugar to be added under any circumstances!
Soon after, I was diagnosed as Coeliac, which forced me re-think my diet, and the ingredients I used in all of my cooking. Not only were bread and pasta banned but I discovered that many of my favourite sauces, including soy sauce, and the vinegars used in my favourite BBQ sauces were also on the blacklist. I started experimenting and came up with great substitutes for these banned ingredients. As a result, I was left with a surplus of lots of different condiments which I gave away to friends. In 2014, a Christmas gift to a friend sparked a demand for my sauces, and the Basketcase story began.
The name Basketcase came about because only a crazy person would set up a business while working full time, balancing a family and at Christmas of all times!
"I've always grown chillies at home, but one year I was given a massive load of fresh chillies by a friend and thought I'd try my hand at making my own hot sauce."
Where do you make your small batch Hot Sauces?
We make all of our small batch sauces in a commercial kitchen in South Melbourne. We call them 'small batch' because that means they're made by us and not in a production kitchen. There is no machine involved in optimising the process – it's just us making the sauces by hand in huge pans.
Whilst we follow our recipe for each batch, nature can be a little unpredictable at times, and depending on the season, ingredients can taste quite different. For example, chillies can be fruitier at various times of the year, and onions are sweeter at certain times etc, so we sometimes have to adjust our recipe slightly to ensure a consistent end product. We don't use preservatives of any kind, so our sauces are as close to nature as you can get.
Each batch generally produces about 200 bottles of sauce. So, when you purchase one of our hot sauces, you know it's unique.