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Caledon’s Chiamigos helping to bring a tasty, healthy breakfast to market

November 14, 2019   ·   0 Comments


Caledon Brothers Chris and Peter Phillips had a plan for a business they could do together, producing a product that is both good for you and a quick, convenient breakfast food for people in a hurry.

The product, Chiamigos, is a mix of, primarily, chia seeds (a super food) with peanut flour and coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut sugar, cinnamon and almonds, all of which are organic. With the added ingredient of organic tapioca, this becomes a pudding, when an equal amount of water or milk is stirred in and left for five minutes. It’s delicious.

“We lived separate lives,” said Chris Phillips, at the outset of their story. “My mother is a teacher and my father is an engineer. I was teaching in Singapore and my brother, Peter, was working as an engineer. 

“Peter and I both knew we didn’t want this nine to five life and we were making this stuff for breakfast. We made it and put it in zip lock bags and took them camping. We go camping in Algonquin all the time. Winter camping too, yes of course,” he added, to our inquiring.

“We grew up going camping in Algonquin,” he elaborated. “I know those rivers so well -I even worked in Algonquin for a while after university.” 

Chris Phillips’ university studies resulted in a Geology Bachelor of Science and followed by a Bachelor of Education. 

“I did my practicum in B.C. Then, I went to Singapore right after that,” he told the Citizen. “My sister was there, teaching. Typically, you have to work for two years to gain experience and I got in right away because of the connection. It worked out; my sister was there for four years and I did three. My two year contract came to an end and I just figured, ‘I want to come back and I want to start this business and I have the opportunity to work with my brother. We can develop something ourselves and we’ll work for ourselves. Best of all, we’re working with food.” 

That last reference to working with food led to more information about the family background: “Everybody in my family is [either] in the teaching profession- my mother and my two sisters; my dad and my brother are engineers. So, we’re a family of teachers and engineers. I learned to cook at home. We always ate together; well, except for being busy during the week. But especially on the weekend, we ate together.”

He continued the story, “I worked in Hawaii on an organic farm. I learned about organic farming and when you live organically. I don’t believe in the farming where you put in chemical ingredients, but where you feed the earth naturally. I wanted something that is organic; it has to follow suit with our own life style.

“We know that things are fast paced for most people. How can we find something that is quick and healthy.”

We met Mr. Phillips recently at the Royal Winter Fair, where he was offering samples of Chiamigo and had packages for sale.

“What we do at these events is use them as exposure. We’re in a way promoting for the goods. People sample the product and once they finish it, they go to the store to buy it. Right now we’re across Ontario in 30 locations. 

“In December,” he informed us, “we’re aiming to have another 30 come on board. We’re with a distributor who’s distributing the product now. They don’t like to buy from every individual vendor but from one who carries from lots of vendors. So, we have our product in the hands of a major distributor to make things go faster.”

Initially, “We have been doing it ourselves, up until recently. We have to learn as we go. We went to Harmony Whole Foods, Garden Foods [in Bolton]. I asked them directly and others and now we’re working with distributors. We pay them for what they sell.” 

The idea for making a business of it, “We started over the telephone, Peter and I; we connected while I was still overseas. We talked about how are we going to bring this product to Canada. So, we incorporated in June, 2017. That was when the ideas started to come.

“We ordered 2000 jars and we thought we would sell it as a wet product so it would be ready to eat, but we had to put preservatives in it; it had a limited shelf life. So, we had to leave it dry.”

As a side note to demonstrate their seriousness about what they eat at home, Chris Phillips remarked, “We get our stuff from Fiddle Foot Farm in our house. We go to the winter market for pumpkin, squash – root vegetables. Whatever they have.”

He went on, “We ethically source our chia from Peru. Peter and I are both health conscious. We know chia is a super food. We would buy chia seed and coconut – everybody sold them separated. We’re going for that convenience – all the stuff at once in a single pack.”

He said, “All the ingredients, peanuts from Georgia, for dehydrated peanut protein. Some are dark roasted peanuts for flavour; some are a lighter roast. We use cinnamon, almonds. We are certified organic. We’re really happy about that.

“We knew the concept by June of 2017,” he said. “I had one more year left in Singapore and I knew that I was going to come back home and work on Chiamigos.

“Eventually, we want to get our product into Singapore. They live even faster than we do. 

Initially, the Phillips brothers thought this venture would be a three way family affair.

“My sister was quite involved in the beginning and we thought it would be the three of us. So, the three amigos. Then, she went up north to teach.”

Referencing where the name came from, Chris said “We thought a whole bunch of names until we saw it is what we say: Chiamigo. It’s protein packed, vegan, gluten free and organic. You just add water and wait 5 minutes and go. We made it so that it mixes with water and milk – milk makes it more creamy.

“When we started, we wanted to use monk fruit as a sweetener, from New Zealand but it’s not regulated yet here, which means it’s illegal. So, we were thinking, what’s the healthiest sugar [and finally] came up with coconut sugar. It’s the best trace sugar there is. And it’s low glycemic, better for diabetics.” 

He said, “We just wanted to make something that tastes great, is good for the consumer and easy to make.”

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