True Stories

Sammi’s Jams

Samantha Fung

Samantha Fung just wasn’t in the mood to make escovietch pickle but her son had been prodding and pleading. It was only after he purchased a jar that was nowhere near as good as her homemade version that she reluctantly said yes.

Finally getting his way, he left the house for about 45 minutes and came back toting about two dozen empty jars, Samantha recalled with a laugh. She protested again but she made the pickle, filled about half of the jars and her son sold them off in a flash.

Samantha didn’t know it then, but her journey as an entrepreneur in the food industry had just begun. It was settled two weeks later when her friend brought over a “really intimidating bundle of sorrel,” still on the branches and she had to find something to do with all of it. “I remembered that as a girl, my mom taught me how to make guava jam, so I said, ‘I wonder if I could really try some of this sorrel to make some jam?’ We had leftover bottles, so I just tried a thing with the sorrel,” she recounted.

I remembered that as a girl, my mom taught me how to make guava jam, so I said, ‘I wonder if I could really try some of this sorrel to make some jam?’ We had leftover bottles, so I just tried a thing with the sorrel

Her son moved those sales just as quickly as he had the escoveitch pickle. By now, her interest had been piqued and she had stopped protesting. Sammi’s Gourmet Treats was now a reality and she worked with the SRC on a couple of formulations and decided to start with guava and orange coconut jams - the latter because she was looking for something new and different to grab people’s attention. Samantha doesn’t have a background in food preparation but like most Jamaicans, she has a deep appreciation for good, fresh food. Growing up in Glasgow, Manchester, her father was a farmer and her mother worked magic in the kitchen. The warmth of those memories is what she wants to share with each bottle of Sammi’s Gourmet Treats.

The range of flavours now also includes sorrel, pineapple, tamarind, spicy tamarind, and pomegranate and java plum. The thing that started it all, escoveitch pickle sauce, has also recently joined the lineup. Sammi’s Gourmet Treats can be found in the JBDC’s Things Jamaican™ outlets, as well as Mega Mart, Loshusan Supermarket, Lee’s Food Fair, Brooklyn Supermarket, Craft Cottage, ReggaeMart, and Hungry D’s Cafe.

The main challenge Samantha faces right now is sourcing capital and there have also been times where it has been difficult to source the fruits she needs, as well as jars and caps.

She has big dreams for Sammi’s Gourmet Treats, including having her own production space, establishing a viable online business, getting her products into hotels and supermarkets outside of Kingston and export. She also hopes her son, who inadvertently started it all and is her right-hand man in graphic design and marketing, will want to keep the business going and keep it in the family.