Sweet chili sauce from the heart

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Sunday, March 16, 2014


HE'S a seafarer and used to be a chef for a cargo vessel that travels to different parts of the world. It was during that time that he discovered he had produced a food product that fits more to a Filipino taste, the fact that most of his co-workers were Filipino seamen.

"Sa work ko kase as a chef, dapat walang masayang na ingredients. So yong garlic and chili na hindi na nagagamit, instead na masayang, iniipon ko and mada a chili sauce na medyo modified ang lasa kase medyo matamis siya," said Ralph Shotwell, 26, who set up the Shots Food Products in November, 2013.

He then offered this sweet chili sauce to his co-workers who eventually get fond of its taste.

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"The crew started to look for it. Gustong gusto nila yong lasa. Some of them mixed it with kahit anong klaseng ulam while the others talagang yon na ang inuulam nila ," he told this writer in an interview.

"It was some sort of an achievement on my part as a chef because I made these people happy with the food I offer," he added.

When Shotwell's job contract ended last year, he decided to put up a business, venturing into food production. He thought about producing the sweet chili sauce.

"Naisip ko na instead of going back to my work, why not try my luck sa business. Why not venture into business and make my own product," he said.

In November, last year, he set up Shots Food Products, which produces the Shots Sweet Chili Sauce that comes in three flavors. He invited three of his closest friends -- Jonas Karlos Locsin, 22; Christian Mangao, 26, and Mark Rodriguez 27 -- as partners in this business venture.

"The four of ang hands on sa business, kame lang din ang naga process. We make sure kase that the quality of the product hindi ma-compromise that fact that we are new in the market," Shotwell said.

He said they worked on the product until the wee hours of the morning especially if orders are in volume.

"We put passion sa pagproduce ng product. Sinasabi namin na this is not just for money. Iba kase 'yong pakiramdam na you give pleasure to your clients, yong masatify mo ang taste nila," Shotwell said.

"That makes siguro ang product different, plus it has the blend of the Pinoy taste," he added.

In a short period of time, the four have already came up with some innovations. From original flavor, they came up with two more flavors -- the extra spicy and the toasted garlic. All these flavors are bottled in 75 ml, 100 ml and 150.

"We have to innovate because there is a market demand. Our product development is focused on that," Shotwell said, adding that they are looking at households as its target market.

"Nakakatuwa lang kase those who have tried our product keep coming back and help us promote the product through their friends and relatives," he said.

Shotwell said they have problem with the ingredients used in the production process since all these are available in the local market.

"I started the business with a measly P400 capital. Nagtesting lang talaga ako. Now we have our distributors na," he said.

At present, the Shots Sweet Chili Sause are available in the market through grocery and sari-sari stores.

'We are not yet available in big supermarkets. Di pa namin kaya i-produce yong volume demand nila," he said, but added they are also eyeing for expansion especially if their plan to set up a manufacturing plant pushes through.

"We are still testing the market. But so far the business is doing well," Shotwell said.

Before they can only produce 10 to 20 bottles a day of chili sauce, but in a short period of time, this went up to 30 to 50 bottles.

"There is a market. And we want our product to be an essential item sa kitchen," Shotwell said.

These four young Dabawenyo entrepreneurs are also looking at expanding their product offerings, especially those that matched with chili sauce like siomai, chicken nuggets and lechon manok.

They are also optimistic the product will soon be a pride of Davao City and will help promote the city as a source of good and quality food products.

"We want this to be a brand na pagnakita mo on display, alam mo na it comes from Davao City," Shotwell said.

The product is being promoted on Facebook, just search Shots Sweet Chili Sauce.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 17, 2014.

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