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Family man gives up IT career to focus on selling home-made hot sauces

PUBLISHED: 08:06 15 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:20 15 July 2020

Graham Heard with his hot sauce Rocketship, made at Aylsham Town Hall Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Graham Heard with his hot sauce Rocketship, made at Aylsham Town Hall Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

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A grandfather and former IT worker has given up the day job to build his business selling his own bottled hot sauces.

Graham Heard with his hot sauce Rocketship, made at Aylsham Town Hall Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANGraham Heard with his hot sauce Rocketship, made at Aylsham Town Hall Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Graham Heard, from Horstead, started RocketShip 18 months ago, after being inspired to have a go at creating the spicy sauces by a friend.

Hours spent in the kitchen followed as he tweaked his first recipe, with its various forms receiving glowing feedback from family and friends.

But the time came for the sauce to be tasted further afield, Mr Heard, who named the brand after a game he used to play with his granddaughter, said.

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Graham Heard with his hot sauce Rocketship, made at Aylsham Town Hall Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANGraham Heard with his hot sauce Rocketship, made at Aylsham Town Hall Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

“It got me thinking about what would be involved in getting a product like a hot sauce to market... In my IT industry it’s always quite hard and time-consuming so I wanted to see what was involved,” he said.

“I refined the recipe, bought some bottles, had my son-in-law help me get the label designed and started to bottle the sauce.”

Today, the father-of-two, and grandfather-of-three, has five varieties - Original (a blend of red pepper and habanero), Solar (a mild, fruity mango and orange flavour), Orbit (a smoky medium hot sauce) Supernova (which has reaper and chocolate habanero chillies) and Rocketship Comet, a sweet, smokey barbecue option.

He now rents a commercial kitchen in Aylsham Town Hall and has left his career in IT, where he was for most of his working life, to focus on taking the business to the next level.

Graham Heard with his hot sauce Rocketship, made at Aylsham Town Hall Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANGraham Heard with his hot sauce Rocketship, made at Aylsham Town Hall Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

“I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that I had to take the opportunity,” he said. “I knew I might regret it if not.”

But Mr Heard, 58, admits that, given his background, the fact that he has been able to make and sell his hot sauce was “incredible”.

“I can’t really cook, I’m not a chef,” he said. “I’ve somehow created sauces that people like, which is amazing.”

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Graham Heard with his hot sauce Rocketship, made at Aylsham Town Hall Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANGraham Heard with his hot sauce Rocketship, made at Aylsham Town Hall Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

He said he’d received support on the way, including from Broadland District Council, Proudly Norfolk and local producers and chefs, including Charlie Hodson and Brick Pizza.

He has worked with Jarrold, Archers butchers, Jive Kitchen, Norfolk Deli, Hewitt and Grant Heritage Butchers and Brick Pizza to sell his sauces, and has a website and online shop.

He described the support from the county’s food community as “heartwarming” and “absolutely incredible”.


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