Sudbury: Tributes paid to the woman who added spice to meal times

Rafi Fernandez

Rafi Fernandez - Credit: Archant

A business woman who brought spice to the lives of hundreds of people in west Suffolk has died after a long illness.

The family of Rafi Fernandez, who passed away on Monday, have told of her passion for cooking and the inspiration she gave to many.

The 68-year-old founded the Sudbury business Rafi’s Spicebox in 1988, providing unusual exotic spices and cooking ingredients.

According to her son Kevin Fernandez, the business - which now operates from premises in Sudbury’s North Street - was arguably her greatest achievement. He said: “Although Suffolk seemed an unusual place to start an Asian business she was incredibly brave and determined for it to succeed.”

Mrs Fernandez was born in India in 1944 and came to the UK in 1965. After working in London for many years, she moved to Suffolk to focus on raising her sons Kevin and Lee.

Mr Fernandez continued: “Through various travels around the globe and a constant desire to learn, she developed an incredible cooking knowledge and skill. This grew and she was able to write her first book in 1985, ‘Malaysian Cookery’. Many other books followed including writing for The Sunday Times and Sainsburys.”

In 1999 the shop was replicated online, and Rafi’s unique ‘curry packs’ have since been sent all over the world - even to India.

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With her son, Mrs Fernandez opened a second shop in York in 2004 which revolutionised the business. However in later year’s, health issues forced her to take a back seat.

Mr Fernandez added: “We would like to take this opportunity to express our sadness in this time of great loss but also celebrate the life of a truly remarkable person, with an unrivalled passion and determination that will not be forgotten by anyone who ever met her.”

Her funeral will be on Tuesday, May 28, at 11.30am at St Gregory’s Church, Sudbury.