By Aileen Goldstein
Tom Wilson was a builder, working with brick and mortar. He was a construction guy, not a spice guy.
Then he found himself unemployed.
One day he randomly picked up a food magazine and came across two recipes and the iconic light bulb came on in his head. Wilson realized what he was meant to do — to build, but in a whole new way.
Wilson discovered spices, more specifically, combining spices into blends. “I told my wife I wanted to do this and she said I was crazy!” Wilson laughs.
He got to work adding and subtracting until he came up with his first product he would sell called Heavenly Blend, along with a few others. He took these initial bottles to his first show held in a school gymnasium and his products sold out.
He now has a repertoire of 110 blends, numerous sauces and condiments under the corporate umbrella called 7th Heaven Spices. In addition, he creates unique, proprietary spice blends for some of the best chefs on Hilton Head Island. The next big thing for Wilson will be a retail store that will include his spice blends, condiments, hard to find whole spices and a curated collection of international food items. He can also be found every Thursday at the Bluffton Farmers Market selling his famous blends.
Wilson is fascinated by the history and flavors found in cooking pots and on tables all across the globe. Something will capture his interest and he delves into researching. For instance, a visitor to the Bluffton Farmers Market from Denver asked him about chimichurri, as he wanted to give chimichurri as a gift to someone who was from Argentina, where the marinade is a staple in households. Wilson methodically researched and created his version of chimichurri and sent it to the customer, whose friend was delighted by getting something “totally authentic.”
The process of creating a new blend typically takes Wilson anywhere from three weeks to three months. Wilson explains, “Some spices are indigenous to certain dishes. What I try to do is transcend all that. I try to have a blend that goes with a lot of different foods.”
The most ironic part of Wilson’s spice calling is that he does not cook. “People find it odd how I can create blends but I can’t cook,” said Wilson. The blending of spices is just an extension of his creative nature. “I just found myself. This is what I was meant to do. I taste the spices in my head,” Wilson says with a smile.
To purchase Mr. Wilson’s spice blends, visit the website www.7thheavenspices.com or visit his stand at the Bluffton Farmers Market each week.
Photo at top: Tom Wilson is seen at the Bluffton Farmers Market with a variety of homemade spice blends and sauces from his 7th Heaven Spices line. Photos by Aileen Goldstein.