Hellish Relish

July 9, 2019

Everyone knows relish; that syrupy-sweet, chopped green pickle condiment that gets put out on every BBQ picnic table, but that few people actually use, and fewer still would proclaim to love. 

So let's get this straight right away: Hellish Relish is technically not relish.

"We call it relish, in part because it's my grandmother's recipe, and that's what she called it," admits Heather Bottoms, owner of She-Devil Delights, makers of Hellish Relish. "But our slogan is, 'sweet, sassy and a little bad-assy'. There's no pickle in our relish. There's no tomato in it, it's made with fresh local chiles, and that's why we call it 'hellish'. But I guess it's more of a sweet chili sauce." 

Bottoms is all about converting relish-haters into Hellish Relish-lovers. Her piquant condiment is indeed more well-balanced than hellish, and the subtle sweetness pairs extremely well with the mild heat from the chiles. Even so, if you're spicy-averse, there's a 'Less Heat' version of Hellish Relish too.

hellish relish2"The ingredients are all very simple," says Bottoms. "It's just chili peppers from B.C., onions from Taber, Alberta, apple cider vinegar, mustard seed from Saskatchewan, salt, and less than a gram, or a tablespoon of sugar. I'm an Alberta girl, but I live now in the Okanagan, and one of the reasons for that is it's one of the few places in Canada where you can grow the chilies we use. I have partnered up with some organic farms here to grow my chili peppers, because that's the number one ingredient in our products."

Bottoms is on a mission to convert self-proclaimed relish-haters into Hellish Relish lovers. It's sometimes a struggle to get folks to try her product, so deep is the collective dislike for traditional relish.  

"I was doing a tasting and this man walks by and says, 'Oh, I can't stand relish. It's disgusting'. And I said, 'Oh come on, come back and try it. It's like nothing you've ever tried before.' He came back and tried it and he bought three jars," laughs Bottoms. "Most of the time if we can get someone to try it, I'm telling you, it's amazing. It blows my mind. I'd say 99% of people who try it, will like it."

Bottoms has had a varied career path to becoming a relish entrepreneur. Her family made her grandmother's recipe relish for years. Soon Bottoms was making jars of it for friends and family as homemade Christmas gifts. She even dabbled in selling it at local farmers markets. But then the travel bug bit. 

A Registered Nurse by trade, Bottoms worked all over the globe in health care for nearly fifteen years, including Thailand and Australia. 

"In my travels it was fun because I taste everything. I'm such a foodie. I always lived in little villages and would go off the beaten path. Of all the places I've been, I've never seen anything like my grandmother's relish. I came back to Canada and decided to register the business." 

So successful has Bottoms been with Hellish Relish, she won a business excellence award for Solo Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018. She says she's thrilled to be partnered with Co-op.

hellish relish oyster"Co-op has been so supportive, like amazingly supportive. They brought it in to all 23 locations. They've really embraced it at the corporate level, it makes it so much easier to work with each of the stores, doing tastings and setting up promotions and stuff for it. Being in Co-op makes it much more efficient to distribute, and more accessible for our customer." 

Find Hellish Relish at Calgary Co-op stores in the deli department.

Tips for using Hellish Relish:

  • as a condiment on a charcuterie board
  • mixed with peanut butter for instant satay sauce
  • on scrambled or fried eggs
  • mix with Greek yogurt and lime juice for a tangy tartar sauce 
  • on BBQ meats 
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