Migration & Britain’s great Artisans

Migration has been hitting our headlines a lot recently. The ‘immigration crisis’ across the world is a terrible issue, so we thought we’d shed some positivity on the topic – and celebrate just how much immigration has positively impacted some of Britain’s greatest food producers. 

The food we eat here in the UK is so diverse. After all, where would we be if spices hadn’t been imported from India? Or sugar from the Caribbean? Or tea from China?! Today, it is clear to see the impact 1st and 2nd generation immigration has had on some of our most-loved and well-known cuisines and dishes, and of course some of our best British artisan brands.


So we took a step back to consider how some of our best brands here at the The Portly Grocer have been influenced by family immigration to Britain... And have unveiled some rather interesting stories in the process!

Here’s a closer look at some of our favourite immigration-inspired products and how they came to be…


We got in touch with Dr Servel Miller, the Jamaican-born founder of Just Jamin’, a range of authentic Caribbean sauces made by his Chester-based brand Caribbean Flaava. Highly influenced by the heritage of their founder, their tagline is ‘Bringing the taste of the Caribbean to your table’ using family recipes handed down through many generations. Dr Miller said;

“Food is a significant part of the migrant communities. It is a way of maintaining their culture and identity, whilst also being used as medium to engage and share experiences with the existing British community. This is highly evident in artisan foods which are generally produced at a local level and sold to local shops. This gratifying process not only provides income and jobs for local people, but contributes to the social fabric and diversity of our communities, making them more vibrant and interesting places to live.”

It is fantastic to hear Dr Miller’s insights and we couldn’t agree more with his view that immigration has brought passion and vibrancy to our dinner tables in the UK.


Next, we take a closer look at Spice Kitchen, created by mother and son team Sanjay & Shashi Aggarwal who are based in Birmingham.


We spoke to Sanjay who told us about his family history; being from a family of migrants and immigrants, he admits that if it wasn’t for this their business wouldn’t exist. Spice Kitchen is built from their family heritage, which is evident in the unique spice blends they produce and production methods they use. Originally from India, Sanjay’s grandparents moved with the British Empire to Kenya to help build the railroads. His parents were both born in Kenya, then his Mother’s family eventually moved back to India. In the late 60’s, his mother moved to the UK where she married his father who attended University in London. They started their family here which now consists of over 100 extended members with some here and some still in Kenya and India.  Sanjay said;


 “Since then, the world has become a smaller place with better access to travel and easier ways to communicate on a global level. As people learn and experience more about other countries and cultures, the more they are inspired to eat and create authentic food from all over the world in their own homes.”


Spice Kitchen now work with chefs from Morocco, Lebanon and Africa to create just that, which is exactly why they do what they do – and why we love their amazing spice blends so much!


We also got in touch with Pratap Chahal AKA That Hungry Chef - chef & artisan food producer living in London, who makes World pickles and relishes inspired by his travels around the world, combined with his Indian heritage. Pratap said;


“As an immigrant myself, every influence on my brand is related to travel and immigration from sourcing to production. My brand ethos is 'inspired by the world, handmade in Britain' and where else to get incredible inspiration but right here in London where, thanks to immigration, every culture, cuisine and custom is right at our doorstep, allowing us to vicariously travel the world.

I've also seen the flow of immigration resulting in a much wider variety of food produce in the artisan marketplace, with producers from across the globe who have immigrated to the UK and set up their business, from Ghana to Mexico, New Zealand to Argentina, it's all happening right here in the UK and we're so much better off for it!”


You can almost taste the passion! From Thai Green Chilli and Coconut Relish, to Bengali Chicken Tikka Pâté Pratap’s little pots of joy are sensational and it is clear from the taste this man is extremely well travelled!


We hope this mini culinary adventure has inspired you to appreciate how immigration has brought so many amazing flavours to our tables over the years, particularly in the Artisan food market. It is a way for artisans to preserve their own heritage but also share it with others, something which they are clearly very passionate about.


Who would you say is a top, artisan brand inspired by the flavours and influences of other countries? Send us a tweet @PortlyGrocer or give us a like on Facebook to let us know, we would love to hear from you!

November 29 2015

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