Umami- Making the Guyanese Taste Magical and Unforgettable

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Already leaving an unforgettable mark in the multimillion dollar industry of flavour engineering, is chemist Chris Persaud, along with his wife, Chanchal. They aspire to add their bit of “mystery” to the local, culinary, traditional dishes with their company, Umami Incorporated. They are manufacturers of high end sauces and condiments which can be found in most supermarkets in and around Georgetown or even at the stalls at Bourda or Stabroek Markets.
In an exclusive interview, Persaud gave some insight into his passion for food chemistry, his business and his plans for expansion.
Persaud was born June 26, 1981 and grew up in Cummings Street. As a young boy, he was always fond of the sciences and that passion exhibited itself during his days at St. Margret’s Primary School, Saint Stanislaus High and even when he did his A Levels at Queen’s College. It was no surprise that he would move on to the University of Guyana and successfully graduate with his Degree in Chemistry.
“I always had a flair for trying to figure out how to add that secret ingredient or flavor to my food, hence I studied food chemistry which enabled me to truly understand how victuals interact with our body. I knew that one day I would want to venture into business studies but chemistry was my priority. My father always told me that a doctor can be a businessman but the reverse cannot happen in a heartbeat and so that is another reason why I pursued chemistry. Since I started my business, I have just been driven by the desire to master every aspect of it, which is why I started my Masters in Economics at Heirot Watt University in London,” Persaud asserted.
But his love for chemistry was fashioned by years of experience which he acquired while working with one of the most reputable Caribbean condiments company –Baron Products. He worked there for ten years moving up the ranks from chemist to respected Board member. He would then move on to work on a similar yet unique company of his own—Umami. Persaud explained that Umami, pronounced ou¬ma¬me, is Japanese for pleasant, savoury taste. He said that the use of that particular name came about because of his love for the Japanese culture, traditions, their efficiency and discipline in mastering their craft.
On all of the fifteen bottled condiments that his company produces, there are five circles on the logo, four of which represent sweet, sour, salt and bitter. He said that the fifth circle is the Umami taste. The colours of the logo also represent the national flag, the Golden Arrow Head.
The young entrepreneur said that the company was incorporated in May 2013, but actually made its first dollar in November of that year; hence the anniversary of the company is celebrated in that month.
“My wife and I consider ourselves true patriots. We love the fact that we have something that is Guyanese and that people in and out of Guyana are able to share in our taste. And it all goes back to my love for creating the things which give food that magical mystery. It is a fulfilling feeling when persons can tell you that they really enjoy the quality of our product. It means a lot because each product was carefully and uniquely designed to provide a taste that is fresh and local and most importantly, can attract attention on the international stage,” Persaud added.
The chemist said that his manufacturing company, though relatively young, has already penetrated markets throughout the length and breadth of the country and after accepting proposals from regional and international markets, the Guyanese product is also represented abroad. He mentioned some of these territories to be Tortola, St. Martin and the USA.
He noted that currently, the company has 16 different products with their factory located in Lusignan. Some of these include: pepper sauce, Chinese sauce, blended green seasoning, Bar¬B¬Que sauce, tomato ketchup, and garlic sauce.
The businessman noted however, that starting his now successful company did not come easy.
“When we started out, it was tough. I mean every hurdle or obstacle a new
business would encounter, we had to deal with . When we first brought out our products there were the usual comments like “oh this looks Chinese”, “I don’t know these people so I’m sticking to what I know”, etc., but given our persistence and drive and belief in our product, we were able to achieve brand loyalty and provide customers these quality products at an affordable price. For me, it’s about quality and making this taste part of the culinary traditions,” the chemist said.
He added, “A lot of thought went into the packaging because there is a myriad of foreign products that you have to compete with in the markets and that means you have less time to capture the attention of the consumer. And so we had to import the materials to bottle and package it to have a very attractive product. But we are most proud of the content of the product. It is all fresh and natural and provided by local farmers.”
Persaud said that soon, he hopes to start providing the very packaging materials he is importing for his products.
He said that his company plans on expanding by manufacturing edible oils too.
Persaud asserted, “There is a really good market out there for edible oils like soya bean oil. There is tremendous scope for it out there.”
The chemist concluded, “At the end of the day, we are pleased with the support we are given from Guyanese throughout the country and we just really want to thank them for making Umami their first choice. It is important to support your own. And we are again, elated to be welcomed into the kitchens of the Guyanese family as they add the fifth taste to their everyday dishes.”
Umami has copped several top national awards for their signature look and taste.
Two of these include a special honour , that being the President’s Award from the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association; and “the Business of the Year” Award from the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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