The Chilli Story


In the beginning...

there was a chilli patch on a very green hill overlooking Byron Bay. Jalapeno chillies thrived in the rich red soil.

With a little help from a local farmer and some compost from the old Byron Piggery, the little chilli patch grew strong in the light of the semi-tropical Summer

"The little chilli patch grew strong in the light of the semi-tropical summer "

Meanwhile, they purchased a well-used taco van already operating at the Byron Markets. Most Sundays they would hook up the caravan to their old, rusty ute and wind down the hills to one of the local markets. In those marvelous, busy days they served soft tacos, burritos and nachos like the markets had never seen.

From the start, wanting their food to be exceptionally tasty, they knew they would have to make our their own salsa. After long days of trial and error in their little kitchen at home, they arrived at two respectably authentic sauces - Salsa Picante and Salsa Verde.

It wasn't long before regular customers showed up with empty jars, hoping to take some of the salsa home with them.

And that's how Byron Bay Chilli Company was born.

Soon labels were printed and the salsas were offered for sale alongside the prepared food and fresh jalapeno chillies on their stand.

" It wasn't long before regular customers asked them to bottle the salsas "

Word of mouth spread quickly, and it was suggested they should try selling to a few shops. Deli Byron and Gourmet Bay took on the products locally, and when presented to David Jones Department store and Butler's Deli in Brisbane, they readily carried the salsas as well.

Encouraged, they decided to test the waters at a food show in Brisbane. As fate would have it, Graham and Gail Boyd, food writers for the Courier Mail happened by their stand, and wrote an article about the BBCC salsa in their regular Wednesday column, "Fossicking with the Boyds".

What happened next took them totally by surprise. A telephone call from Bob Bartlett, buyer for Coles Supermarkets in Queensland, who had read the article, said he and then CEO of Coles, Dennis Eck, were interested in supporting local products and asked if they wanted to trial the salsas in a few local stores.

After serious deliberation (about two seconds) they said, "sure,"and that's how Byron Bay Chilli Company got started in the supermarkets.

market 02
"Word of mouth spread quickly and it was suggested that they should try selling to a few shops "

First it was three stores, then five, then eight, then all the Queensland and Northern NSW Coles stores.

In the meantime, they were conducting a lot of in-store taste testings, and people really liked the cornchips they were using as well as the salsas.

The cornchips were being made by a friend for the restaurant trade. They designed a bag and approached Coles with the idea of expanding the range to include their own brand of corn chips.

They said okay, and the rest is Coles' history.

Around the same time, John was attending a trade conference in Melbourne, and happened to be in a workshop moderated by Maxine McKew, then ABC TV presenter. Speaking at the workshop was the CEO of Woolworths, Reg Claires.

During the workshop, Maxine asked Reg what Woolworths could do to help the many small business owners in the audience, and he very kindly offered to meet with anyone after the workshop.

He gave John an appointment right there to come and talk in the old corporate HQ of Woolworths in downtown Sydney, and proved to be a very keen supporter of local brands.

Soon after, BBCC chips and salsa were ranged in Qld stores, and later nationally.

The next three products they developed were a range of Asian/Latin fusion sauces. Inspired by Thai, Indian and Mexican flavours, Lynne and John went back to their home kitchen, and came up with three unique new tastes...Fiery Coconut Chilli Sauce with Curry and Ginger, Spicy Sweet Chilli Sauce with Lemongrass and Smokin' Mango Chilli Sauce with Chipotle Chillies.

In July, 2000 exhibiting at the Fiery Food Show at Custom's House in Sydney, their products were judged to be the "Best Range of Australian Chilli Products" for 2000.

The award was known as the Australian Scovie, after the Scoville unit, the official heat scale for chillies. The industry calls it the

Golden Chilli and this was the first year it was awarded.

As a prize they won a free stand at the "Big Chilli Show" in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In March, 2001, they attended the show and won four awards for their products. (see news and awards)

As a result, they started exporting to America, where the sauces can be purchased at better delis and internet chilli shopping sites.

first ship
"As a result, they started exporting to America"

Next came a range of Hot Sauces invented by a friend of theirs, Ashif Mawani. He had been making the sauces in Cronulla and marketing them under the name Ashif's Chilli Experience.

Becoming friends at the Fiery Food Shows, the Bolands considered Ashif's sauces to be masterpieces, and a perfect addition to their range.

John Lynne Ashif cropped
"Ashif, Lynne and John near the old Chilli Patch"

They decided to join forces and market the sauces under the Byron Bay Chilli Company brand. Since then the Red Cayenne Chilli with Lime has been awarded "Best Louisiana Style Hot Sauce" twice in America at the Scovies, and both their Green Jalapeno with Coriander and their Gold Habanero with Mango Chilli Sauces have won double Gold at the prestigious Great Taste Competition in London.

Since entering many Australian and International competitions, the ultimate accolade came in 2007 when their Fiery Coconut Chilli Sauce was voted Grand Prize Winner over 740 other entries at the annual Scovie contest in Albuquerque, New Mexico!

For the last couple of years they have been focussing a lot of energy on creating their own retail outlet concept...they opened a little takeaway shop in Byron Bay, called OzyMex- a fusion of some of their favourite Mexican food with their own innovative flavours and spice combinations.  Next time you are in Byron Bay, stop in for a burrito that is unlike anything you will find anywhere else in the world. 



Byron Bay Chilli Company products have established themselves as 

World Famous Sauces 


Hog's Breath Cafe's all over Australia recently acknowledged this by adding the BBCC Fiery Coconut Chilli Sauce to their own menu in two places!

Try their delicious Byron Bay Chilli Company Prime Rib. It will open up a whole new world of taste sensations.

Pizza Capers Restaurants all over Australia now feature our Fiery Coconut Chilli Sauce and their Inferno Habanero Sauce (which we make for them), on two very tasty and spicy pizzas. 

Next time you're in one of their stores ask for the hot one!!! and it will make


Music in Your Mouth

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