THE FIRM

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Your cut-out-and-keep guide to top employers. 50. Discovery Foods

In a nutshell: A young, family-owned business specialising in Mexican and Creole food.

History: Discovery was founded in 1989 by James Beaton and his father-in-law to recreate the taste of southern American and Mexican cuisine in the UK using recipes from a Texan chef who had worked his way around kitchens in America's Deep South. Its first products were Mexican, Creole and Enchilada sauces and it employed three members of staff (two of whom still work for the company). Discovery has since set up a sister company, called Sonora Foods, for the production of tortillas, wraps and chapattis. Both companies have grown to employ over 300 people between them.

Brands you'd recognise: Although only 15 years old, a walk down the ethnic food aisle will show how many products the company produces under its Discovery brand. These include sauces, seasonings, dressings, soured cream, sliced jalapenos, fajita kits, tortilla chips, flour tortillas and tacos. What consumers don't see are the many products it also makes for foodservice, such as its stuffed nachos and its Southern Fried Chicken Texas Turnover, a ready-to-assemble wrap created to compete with the Colonel and his fried chicken empire.

The strategy: "To run the business in a way that reflects how we would like to be treated ourselves," says it all.

Where you'd work: Its products may hint of Mexican sunshine and balmy Alabama evenings, yet in reality the company is not quite as exotic. Its head office is in High Wycombe while its tortilleria can be found in that well-known beauty spot of Daventry.

Do say at interview: Gloop today, gone tomorrow -- just one of the company's many mantras against gluten. It produces an extensive range of 'gloop free' or gluten-free products.

Don't say at interview: I'm not into spicy food.

Contact: 01494 464460, http://www.discoveryfoods.co.uk

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