Nottingham start-up Freshly Spiced wants to transform your cooking

I recently had the pleasure of meeting the charming Tom Ali for coffee. Tom is the brains and creative force behind Freshly Spiced, which he launched in February 2016 and is currently based at Tom’s family home in Nottingham. Tom roasts, blends and mixes a range of fresh spices.

Setting up a spice company is a bit of a departure for Tom, who doesn’t have a background in the food industry. He has had a number of previous roles in the public and private sector and is still currently working part-time as a food development officer for a local authority. His family, though, has always enjoyed cooking and blending cuisines from around the world, and his grandfather ran his own spice store in Nottingham’s St Anne’s throughout the 1950s and 60s. Freshly Spiced grew out of Tom’s love for food and healthy eating (he is a regular gym goer). He told me: “I particularly dislike the fact so many supermarket spice mixes contain additives, preservatives and anti-caking agents”. All Tom’s spice mixes are toasted and then blended and contain no preservatives or additives, and they are all vegan friendly. Depending, of course, on what you use them with.

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Tom Ali on the Freshly Spiced stall

“Spices are best in the first three to six months, so I focus on creating great spice blends with easy-to-follow recipes,” he said, “I see little point in buying good quality meats or veg and covering them with out-of-date spices” (got to admit I am a bit guilty of that – must be time for clear out my spice cupboards!). Recipes and suggested uses are available on the website and if you were in any doubt as to how best to use them, the names of the mixes helpfully guide you along including “My Spiced Burger Mix”, “My Kebab Blend” or “My Spicy Egg Blend”.

Spice companies typically concentrate on curries and Asian specialities, and while Tom’s range does include curries, it also includes mixes for pasta, vegan burgers, BBQ meats and even the amazing-sounding Spiced Ice Cream blend containing cinnamon, cardamom and star anise. There are also seasonal offers such as the summer barbecue pack and ‘meal packs’ with up to six spice combinations to see you through the week. As well as online, Tom’s spices are available in a number of farm shops (including GFC recommended Harker’s Farm Shop) and delicatessens, and he regularly attends farmers’ markets such as the Park Market in Nottingham and food festivals.

Tom is keen to grow the business and is working with other small local producers and providers to explore the scope for collaboration and joint projects as well as continuing to develop his innovative spice blends. He is also eager to develop a community of Freshly Spiced fans: “I like to encourage people who’ve used our spices to post their food pictures on social media, especially if they used them in different combinations – for example the jerk chicken mix apparently works really well with salmon.”

Why not give Freshly Spiced a try? You can start by following Tom on Twitter.

Abby Brennan
The author:

Abby lives in Radcliffe on Trent with her family and several chickens. She is a former restaurant owner and now mentors food business start-ups, writes recipes, and blogs at The Fishwife's Kitchen.