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EASY MAGAZINE: Sweet treats

Sheria Brathwaite

EASY MAGAZINE: Sweet treats

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Wendy Hollingsworth’s love for science has taken her on a path that includes culinary creativity with Blackbelly sheep milk and dunks liquer.

Wendy is from a family of entrepreneurs and the 52-year-old said she always had a love for science and agriculture that blossomed from her days in secondary school. 

“When I was at school doing integrated science I developed a love for the sciences,” she said. “I was exposed to the lab and I was involved in classroom experiments which I had a lot of fun doing.

“At some point I was also interested in grafting. For example with the hibiscus you had one plant and from that shrub you could get a pink, yellow and red one, so when I realised you could do this by manipulation it piqued my interest.

The family business is called KSW Hollingsworth Inc., comprising of her mother, father and siblings. Mum Shirley Hollingsworth is the production manager. Wendy’s brother, Brian Clarke, is responsible for soher mother, father and siblings. Mum Shirley Hollingsworth is the production manager. Wendy’s brother, Brian Clarke, is responsible for sourcing raw materials to make the company’s products while Wendy’s younger sister Kendra Hollingsworth-Edwards, is the graphic designer. Wendy’s father is not as active in the company as he was before. Wendy said he passed on the company to his children.

Wendy attended Alexandra Secondary School then Barbados Community College to study chemistry and biology. In September 1986, she attended the University of Guelph in Canada to study horticulture and plant biotechnology. 

After earning a bachelor’s degree she did her master’s in biotechnology at the Wageningen University, Holland. With this master’s she was able to win a Commonwealth scholarship and travelled to New Zealand to study for a PhD in biotechnology at Massey University. In 2007 she earned another master’s degree, this time in intellectual property from the Turin Law School in Italy. She also has a number of diplomas.

Wendy is the brainchild behind A Bit Of Fudge which is a bite-sized confectionery wrapped in brown paper. The smooth texture melts in the mouth, leaving your taste buds begging for another bit(e) of the sweet sensation.

Her secret weapon is to make the sweetmeat extra special with milk from the Blackbelly sheep. 

“I usually make Valentine’s Day treats for family and friends, but last February I wanted to do something different. I had a booth at Agrofest also and I also wanted that to stand out.”

A rush of ideas culminated in her making the fudge with a Barbadian twist.

“I thought since it is our 50th anniversary of Independence I should try to do something different. I thought that there was not much done with the Blackbelly sheep milk, except to make soaps. So I thought why not make Blackbelly sheep milk fudge,” she said.

Wendy laughed as she disclosed the general response to her new product when she “tested it out” at Agrofest.

“Everybody kind of looked at me like, ‘Can you actually milk a sheep?’ ‘Can you actually get milk from Blackbelly sheep?’ ‘Where do you find the milk from those sheep?’ 

Wendy explained she gets the milk from Greenland Livestock Research Station in St Andrew. 

Based on her research, the scientist said that sheep milk is the best, compared to other dairy milk. She said that although people complained about its high fat content, sheep milk has the most vitamins. 

A Bit Of Fudge would be branded under KSW Hollingsworth Inc.

In the early 1990s the company sold dunks liqeur and was awarded a gold medal in 2000 for the alcoholic beverage when the family entered NIFCA. The company has also branched out into condiments. 

They make a variety of sauces and chutneys using local fruit. Some of the primary produce such as sorrel is cultivated from Uncle Brian’s Farm in Coleridge,  Christ Church. The products of KSW Hollingsworth Inc. can be found in Blue Island’s Treasures souvenir shop at Pirate’s Cove, The City. 

Wendy is excited that the Blackbelly sheep milk fudge will be ready for distribution in November. She said it would tie in with the nation’s jubilee celebration and also be a nice gift for Christmas. 

Wendy owns two home-based consultancy firms – Policy Networks International Inc., a science, technology and innovation based company while Conceptualisation Inc. deals with issues related to intellectual property.

When Wendy, who has always lived in Free Hill, St Lucy, is not coming up with new culinary ideas, not working for clients through her consultancy firms, travelling or writing poetry, she is reading a romance novel. 

Nevertheless, as a scientist, she never stops thinking of new twists to food she can experiment with in the kitchen. She also takes care of her two beloved Blackbelly sheep (the rest were given away). 

“I am adventurous even in a culinary type of way. My mind is always searching for ways to transform stuff. I am always looking for new ways to incorporate a bit of Bajan in common dessert recipes.” (SB)