Toronto couple launch business to try to bring more spice to the city
A Toronto professor and a businesswoman with young children are on a mission to spice up the city with a new product inspired by their Nigerian background.
Called Strup Spice, it's an all-purpose seasoning that blends Western and African spices, which you could very well see soon on the shelf at your local grocery store.
Not only did they manage to perfect it and bring it to market during the pandemic, they also did so while continuing to work their jobs and take care of toddlers.
"Before the pandemic, Tola was running Petola Creations, where she makes custom cakes and gift items. During the pandemic, the business slowed down as not many people were ordering cakes and gifting
personalized gifts at the time," Peter Haastrup, who invented Strup Spice with his wife Tola, told blogTO.
"I teach in the Social Service Worker/Mental Health and Addicitons/Child and Youth Care Programs at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario. Just like many faculty members across the country and world, the cancellation of classes and the immediate move to online platforms led to me teaching from home with two kids under the age of three."
Time spent at home during the pandemic had to be majorly reorganized for the couple, but with a divide-and-conquer attitude they've been able to launch their fledgling product while still managing their usual daily tasks.
"Considering the amount of time spent at home during the pandemic, we were able to rethink strategies for Petola Creations, while working on Strup Spice and perfecting it. While I am teaching or in meetings, Tola is running the day to day activities of Petola Creations Inc. as well as taking care of our two children, nine months old and three years old," says Haastrup.
"The amount of time devoted to the business varies from day to day depending on whether we are mixing the spice, bottling it, packaging orders for shipping, taking photos and creating content for social
media, and replying messages on social media. On average, to mix and bottle a batch of spice takes about two hours."
While Strup Spice may have been perfected in isolation, its origins are in social gatherings.
"Each gathering, guests would rave about the food, especially the meat and poultry, and we would usually get questions about the spices used. In a bid to improve the quality and taste of the meals cooked and served at every gathering, we became interested in perfecting the
spice blend we used for seasoning," says Haastrup.
"What came of this was a special sauce for marinades, the original
Strup Sauce. After years of experimenting and receiving excellent feedback from friends and family, we perfected a unique blend, which we now call Strup Spice. It is inspired by a fusion of African and Western spices to create a unique, spicy, and delicious seasoning blend."
The blend can be used to season anything. Yes, anything. It's recommended by for meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables, and works well with BBQ dishes, customers raving that it can be used without any other ingredient.
"It is hard to find an all-purpose seasoning that is spicy, not too salty, and can be used alone without adding other spices. This was the goal for Strup Spice. With our Nigerian background coupled with our love for spicy food, we embarked on a 2 year process of spice mixing and tasting, until we finally found the perfect mix," says Haastrup.
"A lot of people like how spicy it is and how it can be used in a lot of dishes."
It's made using peanut powder, toasted ground ginger, extra hot cayenne pepper, granulated onion, granulated garlic, smoked paprika, poultry seasoning, crayfish, African spices, parsley, rosemary, black pepper, turmeric, and salt. A delicious-sounding combination, but take care to note it's obviously not allergen-friendly.
"As we continue to grow, we plan to expand Strup Spice in the future by creating more unique flavors," says Haastrup.
You can find Strup Spice at Kyle's Quality Meats and Stuttering John's Smokehouse in Bowmanville, MyChopChop online store, Jabel Fine Foods in Pickering, Akhigbe African Supermarket in Toronto, My Heritage Foods' online store, Sweet Beast Butcher in Peterborough and Mosaic African Foods in North York.
Variety is the spice of life, so why not support this new small family business and try something new to add a little kick to your home cooking?
Join the conversation Load comments