Rinelle White’s Umami is spicing things up in the kitchen
Ground, whole, mixed and plain – Rinelle White has been obsessed with spices in all their forms for ages.
At any point in time there are roughly 40 in a closet in her home. Housed in mason jars and kept in alphabetical order, she decided to turn her collection into a business two years ago, Umami Bermuda.
It was her idea to make more of the spices that seemed to impress dinner guests at her home.
“I thought by creating spice blends, everyone could cook like that,” she said. “You hear people talking about marinating the food or doing other things to prepare it – you can create huge flavour with spice blends so easily.”
A love of Indian food got her started making her own. Eager to replicate the powerful flavours, she had a friend send her a special tandoori spice mix made in Trinidad.
When her friend couldn’t get it anymore Ms White found another source, but that channel eventually dried up also.
“So I was like, I wonder if I could create my own tandoori blend,” she said.
Through playing around she came up with a mix of coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika, garlic, and ginger. Once she felt she had the combination right, she used it to season Cornish hens for a dinner party.
“People were going crazy over it,” said Ms White, a part-time accountant and hairdresser.
“They were saying this is so good. Where did you get this? I said, ‘Oh, I came up with it myself.’”
Umami Bermuda offers three salts and ten spice blends of various heat levels. Customers can request for them to be salt- or sugar-free. Her warmest blend is called Tandoori Twist; her least spicy is a mix of onion, chive and garlic salt.
“That is really popular with people who don’t like heat,” she said. “It is not overly salty either. That is a nice mild spice blend that is really effective.
“We have a few that are middle of the road and some that are really spicy. The salts don’t have any pepper in them at all. We have a rosemary and thyme salt, a ginger and cumin salt and a paprika salt.”
Ms White uses Instagram to showcase some of her meals. She instructs around 1,200 followers on technique rather than hardcore recipe steps.
While she loves to cook, she is not one to spend all night at it.
“I am a meat and vegetables person,” she said. “I cook quick food. It is delicious, but not a three-step process.
“For example, if I do a whole chicken, I can put it on and leave it and put it with a timer and be doing other things while it is cooking; I might put on lamb chops which take five minutes to fry.”
She devotes far more attention to each of her blends.
“It probably takes me a couple of weeks to create it, test it and tweak it,” she said.
Since starting her business she has been surprised to find that not everyone is as devoted to seasonings as she is.
“I saw a post the other day,” she said. “This Bermudian guy said he uses salt, pepper, garlic and onion. That was it.”
At the other end of the spectrum is a friend of hers who carries a bottle of Umami Bermuda’s Everything spice blend everywhere she goes.
“She uses it to season her food in restaurants. I would never do that. I feel like that is a little bit rude and would offend people,” Ms White said.
With so many spices on hand, she had to create a spread sheet to keep track of what she has and when it expires.
“Spices do have a shelf life,” she said. “I buy spices based on my previous usage. I use a lot of garlic, so that really doesn’t stick around. Other things, I buy a lot less of, because I don’t use it very much.”
Her spices are freshly ground before going into her blends.
“There are so many additives in our food. With the spice blends, we don’t put any anti-caking ingredients in them. They are gluten-free. There are enough toxins in everything already. I like to get my vegetables out of my garden, I like spices with no additives, and to get my meat as close to organic, pasture-raised or grass-fed as possible.”
Umami Bermuda is available at Miles Market and Dangelini’s Cafe in Hamilton, Long Story Short in St George's and UmamiBermuda.com. Follow @umamibermuda on Facebook and Instagram. For more information: 504-1300 or email@example.com