Market News

Sensational Samosa featured in the Hamilton Spectator

The Hamilton Farmers’ Market is so excited to see our vendor Sensational Samosa is featured in the Hamilton Spectator! 
The Article is attached below.

Article previously published on: Sep 27, 2017 by Kelly Noseworthy, Hamilton Spectator

The sweet smell of onions permeates the air of the upper level of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market. A subtle hint of spice hits your nose and you can’t help but follow the smell.Reuben Charles is doing what he’s known for. He’s creating his famous sweet potato, spinach and kale pakoras, a vegan favourite that’s also popular among meat lovers. He makes them in small batches to keep the vegetables at their freshest, adding a touch of spice that dances on your tongue.”Just a little spice because we don’t want to make it too hot, just good for everybody,” he says.Charles, 85, is the chef behind the various samosas, pakoras, curry dishes and soups you’ll find at Sensational Samosa, a family run business that’s held a prominent place at the market for more than three decades.

Their story starts many years ago, long before their dishes were ever a thought.Charles, who is from Pakistan, worked as a registered nurse in England before immigrating to Canada in 1964. He worked as a surgical nurse at Hamilton General Hospital and Henderson Hospital for 15 years but decided to begin a new venture in 1980, when he and wife Eliza bought a farm in Caistor Centre. 

Samosas – they make 11 varieties and churn out about 2,500 each week

A year later, they sold the property and bought a poultry farm in Flamborough. With their daughter Lorelei and son Joel, they raised chickens and eventually grew vegetables too. While Eliza, originally from the Philippines, continued working as a nurse, Reuben sold meat, poultry and veggies at various farmers’ markets across the region until 1985 when he secured a permanent stall at the market in Hamilton.”One day, we decided to put out a basket of samosas,” said Reuben. “They were very mild but they sold very quickly.”People started asking for more spice, so we made a mild, medium and spicy to please the crowd,” he adds.Little did he know then that he had planted a seed which would bloom into the success it is today. Reuben often spends 12 or more hours in the kitchen, making 11 kinds of samosas, including a line of “gourmet style” along with the classics.

These days, daughter Lorelei Charles, along with her husband and partner Kevin Gamble, are the faces you see most often. They serve customers and manage the business. Gamble prepares many of the vegan salads, desserts and other foods.”Samosas are the number one seller,” says Lorelei. “On average, we sell about 2,500 each week. The World’s Best Vegan Mixed Veggie accounts for about half the samosas we sell.”Gamble says customers travel from as far as Sudbury and Muskoka to get their hands on many of their offerings, including those sourced from local producers such as Columbian empanadas, Lebanese pies and Asian style spring rolls.

Lorelei Charles, her father Reuben and Lorelei’s husband Kevin Gamble in their booth

The family is also expanding the business by opening a storefront on King Street East in Dundas.”Looking to the future was opening this second location,” says Lorelei. “So many of our customers that we’re grateful for come from Dundas. We wanted to have our own place to be able to serve this community too.”Asked what keeps him going, Reuben gets emotional and defers to Eliza, 78.”Our daughter really believes in our cooking,” she says. “She has this interest of carrying on the business so we are supporting her … She has a passion for this.”

Lorelei says their success from “humble beginnings” is built on a combination of things.”It starts with truly caring about what we do and our customers. 

Hard work and determination and a partnership whereby we all have a unique set of skills and when combined, it’s very complementary.”