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When electrical engineer Ronnie Ilouze moved from Israel to South Africa in 1989, he had no idea he would end up as an expert in spices and sauces. It all started when Ronnie’s father-in-law asked Ronnie to help him source spices for his butchery, and Ronnie saw a business opportunity in the making. “When I suggested starting a spice business, my father-in-law asked me what an electrical engineer could possibly know about spices,” says Ronnie. “In my typically arrogant Israeli fashion, I answered: ‘How hard could it be?’” 

The rest is history. What started as a small company that bought and repackaged spices from other producers soon grew into a booming spice-making business supplying spices and spice blends to businesses of all sizes, from butcheries to supermarkets. A few years later, the company expanded into the sauce industry. Today, Calcutta Sauces & Spices employs 35 dedicated staff members and produces over 70 spices, over 60 different homemade spice blends, as well as a wide variety of sauces, marinades, and salad dressings. “We make everything from scratch, and I am very involved in making the spice blends and sauces. In fact, the recipes start and end with me,” explains Ronnie. “I love it, and it turns out I actually have a very good palate for these things!”

The company has always been focused on making only the finest quality products. “I’m obsessed with quality, and, being an engineer, I think in a binary, all-or-nothing, way,” he adds. “For me, something is either perfect, or it’s not acceptable at all.”

The decision to go kosher was a natural one for Ronnie. “As a Jewish man, there was always a flame inside me – something that made me want to make my products available to all Jews.” Calcutta Sauces & Spices embarked on the kosher certification process in 2021 and received its certification in March 2022. “I let my team look after the entire process with MK, because I wanted to stay at arm’s length from it all, to be sure that we earned our certification entirely on our merits, irrespective of the fact that I am Jewish,” explains Ronnie. “My secretary dealt with the MK rabbis and staff. It was a very friendly journey, and I’m extremely happy that we embarked on it.” 

For now, Calcutta Sauces & Spices products are only available in South Africa, as well as in neighbouring Zimbabwe and Mozambique. However, expansion is always a possibility, according to Ronnie. “We’re already in the process of expanding our prod

uct offering, and we may start exporting, too. Who knows: someday soon, you may find Calcutta Sauces & Spices on grocery shelves in Canada, the USA or England!” 

We sure hope so.

 

 


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