Ep 137. Marilyn Rootham of Rootham Gourmet on all natural gluten free goodness

www.roothamsgourmet.com

We are a small, family owned and operated preserving company started in 1983. Through the years we have experienced many adventures as a business and a family. Marilyn Rootham, the owner and operator, has a background in nutrition and is a registered dietician. Marilyn, with her husband Burke, son Will and daughter Ashley, have all periodically worked in the business. On any given day, any family member is likely to be in the business answering phones, pouring a pot of our product into jars, or helping out in some way. Of course we are all subjected to taste tests of the latest product inventions.

Marilyn Rootham started the business in 1983 just after she had her first child, Will. There was an abundance of fresh produce in the garden and she began to jar the produce, coming up with some inventive and creative combinations including: Marinated Fiddleheads and our signature product Tangy Red Pepper Jelly. There was too much product to eat, and at that time her sister-in-law had a small store in Muskoka. Marilyn’s sister-in-law offered to take some product to sell. And the rest, as they say, is history. They couldn’t keep the product on the shelf and when the cottagers went back to the city after the summer, they wanted to be able to purchase it in Toronto. The business was born. Fulfilling orders from small gift stores in Toronto has grown over the years to private labeling, corporate gift orders, retail and wholesale shows, and everything in between.

Just after Marilyn’s daughter Ashley was born, Cathy Smith joined the operations. Cathy has been with Rootham Gourmet Preserves for more than 27 years and is a truly indispensable part of the family. She is the main point of contact for customers, runs the administration operations of the company and, most importantly, a true friend over the last 27 years.

Over the 30 years we have built a business that stands on a foundation of high quality product, using as many local ingredients as possible, and great family relationships. It was not always easy however. In mid-2001 the business was burnt to the ground in a massive fire. Nothing was left except for the jars of the product that had been taken to Windsor that weekend for a retail show. With 50 cases of product and nothing else, there was a difficult decision that had to be made – do we rebuild?. It was not even a question. With the support of our customers both retail and wholesale we could not simply stop. We set up temporary portables and trailers and were back in production! The new building was completed in late 2002.

In 2010, Will Rootham Roberts, Marilyn’s son joined the business full time. His expertise in production and all things mechanical as well as the fact he has been involved in one way or another with the family busines for his whole lfe, made him an excellent fit. With his skills in all facets of production and product development Rootham Gourmet has started to broaden its focus. We can now offer our customers the full Rootham Gourmet Preserves Line, co-packing services, food service, and product development.

Since then the business continues to grow and evolve with new products, new partnerships and of course new generations of customers. Just like our family is growing, we can’t tell you how many times we have heard, “My mom always buys this and it is our family favourite.” We thank you for your 30 years of support and are committed to bringing you delicious all natural, gluten free Canadian products for years to come.

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Mark Latimer

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