The COVID-19 pandemic has caused Viking Chilli to adapt their business plan

A bond forged in ale has developed into a hot new enterprise for three Hawkesbury mates.

Stonka Hobbs, Chris Boendermaker and Lee Palmer are the proud faces fronting homegrown sauce company, Viking Chilli.

The met first met through a passion for brewing their own beer. Last year they decided to turn their attention to chili peppers.

Chilli men: Stonka Hobbs, Chris Boendermaker and Lee Palmer from Viking Chilli at The Butcher Shop, Richmond. Picture: Geoff Jones.

Chilli men: Stonka Hobbs, Chris Boendermaker and Lee Palmer from Viking Chilli at The Butcher Shop, Richmond. Picture: Geoff Jones.

"We've been operating for about 12 months," said Lee. "Stonka has been making hot sauces by himself for around 10 years, just selling it to friends and family.

"Now we do a lot of markets and sell through some retailers. We have a website which has all of our products and has see a lot of people go to recently."

Viking Chilli's products are available at four local retailers, the Butcher Shop at Richmond, the Visitor Information Centre at Ham Common, Tractor 828 and Richmond Fruit Market.

The Viking Chilli range includes hot sauces (from mild to extremely hot), some chilli jams and a spice rub.

"We grow all of our own chillies and where possible, all other produce we use is grown and purchased locally, supporting local businesses," said Stonka.

Viking Chilli is a labour of love for the trio, who all work in other fields.

"It's a good outlet for us," said Chris. "It's a second business and a good distraction that allows us to get away from everything else."

While in lockdown the men had to look for avenues other than markets to push their wares..

"We started to push more online," said Lee. "We've been doing Facebook and Instagram marketing recently and have managed to move around to some other markets.

"We've had a lot of sales recently online. Now we are looking to invest more with online advertising and to push further online in the coming years.

"But we also want to get out to the locals. A main thing for us is getting our product to local retailers."

Now that the Viking Chilli men have returned to the markets - including Richmond Good Food Market - they have had to change some of their practices.

"We used to do taste testings but now we just have to provide information and describe the flavours and what goes into the products," said Lee.

Check out the Viking Chilli range vikingchilli.com or say g'day to the guys at this Saturday's market at Richmond.

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