Steenbergs took the time to sit down with Celebrity Angels and tell us more about Sophie and Axel’s passion for herbs, spices and teas.
To begin with, could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up creating Steenbergs?
Sophie and Axel met at Edinburgh University. Afterwards, Axel concentrated on a career in finance whereas Sophie’s career was PR and charity fundraising. They were both, however, looking at setting up a business together and kept coming back to herbs, spices and teas.
Their passion for herbs, spices and teas started with travelling and enjoying eating and cooking different foods from around the world. How you put together different herbs and spices always seemed to be the secret ingredient to real food.
Where did the idea of Steenbergs come from? Did you have any inspirations?
When we set up our herbs, spices and tea business the fact that it was to be organic and Fairtrade was a given, mirroring our own personal ethos. So our focus was on wanting to be able to sell products with intense, natural flavours with strong environmental and ethical provenance.
Do you have a favourite product and/or a favourite meal you can make out of your products?
So hard… But probably a fish and seafood curry in coconut milk made with our Steenbergs organic Malay Masala curry mix.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants a more eco-friendly diet but doesn’t want to lose out on flavour?
You really don’t have to compromise at all. Simply do as your grandparents did – buy as local as possible, direct from producers. Farmers’ markets and box schemes are a great starting point. Also, search the web for those with genuine eco-credentials, because most are not found on the high street – Steenbergs products are bought through direct trade, and we blend and pack all our products in North Yorkshire.
What kind of recipes would we be able to produce from your eco-products?
Anything you would like to recreate from around the world. There are a few ingredients we stock that aren’t organic, but the majority are—whether that’s something from our vast range of organic curry powders, organic tagine mixes, or an organic paella. At our webstore, we have an extensive range of pastas and rice, many with really unique stories – black rice from Italy, for example.
What is ingredientia? What was the thinking behind it?
Ingredientia is a wiki site that champions information for the serious home cook. It’s meant to become a reference for traditional knowledge about ingredients and cooking. Basically, it’s a start-up resource for ingredients that have a European rather than American standpoint.
If you had to quickly tell someone why they should start using fairtrade produce, such as your spices and teas, what would you say?
Firstly, Fairtrade products taste really good and have excellent quality – Fairtrade bananas, chocolate and spices are really delicious for example. So there is no need to compromise on flavour. But it’s about having respect for people. We all eat food and drink tea or coffee. In the UK, we all expect a fair wage for our work, so it’s important when we buy imported goods that we don’t close our mind to where that food came from and how it has been made and packaged. For us, Fairtrade means we’re giving back to the communities that we work with, ensuring that their lives are getting better and that we don’t try and squeeze every penny out of their labour. Fairtrade is a movement that not only respects each person’s work but pays a living wage for that and allows everyone to be involved in how any money earned is used for the benefit of their communities – both parts are important. The Fairtrade Mark gives you the peace of mind that this is genuinely happening.
To find out more about Fairtrade herbs, teas and spices visit steenbergs online
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