Meet the Producer: Sharon Fernandes
Owner, Stonehouse 27user rating
Family history and a love of food was more than enough inspiration for Sharon Fernandes to create an award-winning line of exotic, ready-to-use, pantry-stable Indian sauces.
“Cooking flavorful and healthy foods for my family has always been a passion of mine, but I believe it is in my genes,” says Fernandes. “My mother owned a catering company when I was little, and I was surrounded by these amazing foods that were always home made.”
As a child growing up in Bandra, India—a waterfront village influenced by Portuguese and British settlers—Fernandes forged a lifelong connection with the area’s rich culinary traditions and cultural diversity. Her product’s name bears familial significance: Stonehouse pays homage to her father’s British ancestry, while the number 27 represents the number of spices in a traditional, Portuguese-inspired blend that she uses in her sauce recipes.
Stonehouse 27 comes in six varieties, including Cilantro & Coconut, Tamarind & Garlic (right), Tomatoes & Chilies and Spicy Cashews & Cream. In a short time, Fernandes’ product made headlines: Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert said on “ABC News,” “This product is a hit. I never had a Cashews and Cream sauce before, but I guarantee it will become part of my regular favorites.”
Made with fresh herbs and produce, the sauces contain no artificial ingredients, added salt or canola oil, and they use diabetic-friendly, low-glycemic agave nectar instead of refined sugars. —Denise Shoukas
Fernandes shared more of her story with us:
What was the impetus to launch your business?
I had a successful career within financial services in technology and management consulting in the New York area. When my husband was offered a position in London, we made a decision to move there as a family. As a stay-at-home mom in London, I was able to spend my days at farmers markets and visiting local bakeries to get the freshest produce and baked items to work into a meal.
I have always been an a little bit of an entrepreneur and passionate about wanting to bring some of my inventions to market. It dawned on me that I enjoyed cooking and eating the flavors of my youth so much that I wanted to introduce it to a wider audience. So with a spoonful of entrepreneurial spirit, a dash of invention and zest for high-quality, great-tasting food, Stonehouse 27 was born.
Which of the sauces has the most sentimental value for you?
Cilantro and Coconut is the one! It was the first thing my mom ever taught me to cook, it’s the first recipe I ever wrote in a tattered recipe book, and when I introduced it to my husband years ago he loved it. It has layers of flavor, from fresh herbs like cilantro and mint to creamy coconut milk. It’s so fragrant, perfect for the summer months.
What is the most challenging or satisfying part of your job?
The phrase I use most often is, “If you are going to do something, do it well.” I apply that to everything in my life, but it is challenging to build a team that shares these beliefs and meets the high bar I set for myself. As for satisfying, I am always happy when customers write, call or comment about how they tried our sauce because they stumbled upon it and are now a fan because they can tell the difference in quality.
If someone could shadow you for one day at your job, what would surprise that person most?
The fact that I have a get-it-done attitude. It doesn't matter if I have to interact with a buyer, a customer, drive to the warehouse, design, track a shipment—I just get it done if everyone else has got something else on their plate. The other thing is I enjoy a good hearty laugh, and I like to surround myself with upbeat personalities.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a mechanical engineer and work with large ship engines. Grease didn't scare me and I thought walking around in overalls would be fun!
Aside from your products, what three items can you always find in your kitchen?
I love a great homemade stir-fry for dinner and I make my own sauce at home, so I always have a light-in-sodium soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic and fresh cilantro.