There was a small chance that when two chutney-loving chums decided to venture into the world of condiments, they could end up getting themselves into quite a pickle.
But instead, the pair are relishing in the fruits of their labour as a bold move to Leyland has enabled them to expand their popular and ever-growing business.
Chefs Robert Weekes and Paul Ainscough worked together in Eaves Hall in Clitheroe, and used their spare time to start creating ‘cheeky chutneys’ and ‘ravishing relishes’.
“It started as a hobby on our days off back in 2008,” Robert said. “We were producing small batches at home of around 50 jars, and by 2012 we were selling them at farmers’ markets.
“We were both passionate about discovering different flavour combinations, and chutneys are a good way of putting different ingredients together.
“We’re both chefs and we’ve worked with food all of our lives, so we had a good idea about what would work well. We managed to put the chutneys together relatively easily; it comes naturally to us.”
And so FatJax was born, starting off with six chutneys and six relishes.
“From the farmers’ markets, things really took off,” the 37-year-old added. “We didn’t expect it to escalate so much, but Paul ended up leaving his job to work on FatJax full time.”
They pair were still producing the goods at home, until earlier this year when Robert joined Paul to work on the brand full time, and they bought a unit in Leyland to enable them to make even more condiments.
As well as the farmers’ markets, they’re now able to target wholesale buyers and their products are sold in shops and delis, as they’re producing around 200 jars a day in one kilo and three kilo buckets.
Robert and dad-of-two Paul, 59, from Preston, now make eight different types of chutneys, seven relishes, and four sauces.
Robert, also a dad-of-two from Burnley, added: “We’ve also just bought out another business called ‘Some Like It Hot’.
“We’re now selling chili products and a few sauces, spice rubs, chilli powder and jelly under the ‘Some Like It Hot’ name, which we’re taking with us to the farmers’ markets along with FatJax.
“Coming to Leyland has been a really good move. We’re renting the unit in the Moss Side Industrial Estate from the council, and we spent around £8,00 kitting out the kitchen.”
So where did the FatJax name come from?
“It’s actually the name of a burger,” Robert explained. “Paul used to have a barbecue business in his younger days. He used to do large food shows and he had this double burger on a huge bap which was called the FatJax burger.
“We’d just started the business and we wanted an original name, something a bit different, so I suggested that.”
And they have their own favourites from the range. Robert explained that chutneys are essentially fruit-based, whilst relishes use more vegetables. His favourite is one the pair developed early on – the popular Bengali Pineapple chutney – while Paul prefers one of the newer creations, the Scotch Bonnet Hot Chilli.