SEASONAL KETCHUP?! THERE’S SOMETHING OUT THERE OTHER THAN HEINZ?!
David Schaub is changing the game about our idea of what Ketchup is in the Capital. Over the past 5 years, at each place David was cooking, he found that making different condiments from scratch was his niche. However, he always found himself going back and experimenting in the world of ketchup! So much so that he even found himself costing it out and finding it cheaper and easier on labour just to make his own in-house. Over time, and with his Chef’s allowing him the chance to do his own thing, he found a way to do his own style of ketchup. When you have that type of freedom in a kitchen, and you’re not the Chef, it becomes up to the individual to see what they’re capable of and what they can create. It’s about taking advantage of those situations and capitalizing on them. Dave took that opportunity and through the process of creating and adjusting his recipe he seemed to have develop something special. One Christmas, he made the ketchup he had been playing with at work for his brother who is a “ketchup aficionado” and found that it could be time to start bottling this up and get it selling.
Right before he was about to get bottling and have a launch party, David got sick, but this didn’t deter him. After the Christmas holidays, he started doing better! He got the bottles going and ended up in 10 different local stores including The Piggy Market, Around the Block Butcher Shop, Muckleston & Brockwell, and even found its way on the burger at Beckta.
But a successful recipe doesn’t happen overnight. It took David 4 years to settle on a recipe that he was happy to start bringing to the table. When a Chef decides that they’re going to create a product like this, it’s not a project where they pick a recipe online and say I can do that en masse. It takes time and continual tweaking of the recipe each time you make it to see what’s missing, what there’s too much of, and what’s needed to give it a little “Oh what’s this?” What’s awesome when Chef’s go about doing these projects is their nutritional consciousness for the consumer. What you’ll find in The Ketchup Project is that it’s a little looser than the traditional stuff but on the flip side of that there’s only 3% sugar per serving because David uses natural ingredients, so the ketchup gets its sugars from apples that he adds. And this is an awesome point about what it means to create a unique product that’s local and done with love. You don’t have the corn syrup filler or more things you can’t pronounce on the label than the ones you can. Chef’s are aware that small steps like this in a product that they’re selling is viable and benefits all involved in enjoying this ketchup.
The fun part for David with his ketchup is how focused he is on seasonality! With going to the local 613 flea or the Carp Farmers Market he’ll have returning customers ask where the previous special bottle is, as they were maybe looking to get another bottle of the ginger/soy/molasses ketchup. To David though he might explore those flavours again but not when it’s rhubarb season! So he focuses his product by what he can do each season, which is something quite awesome when we think of something as basic as ketchup.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. One of David’s best friends for close to 20 years, is his favourite vegetarian. But he doesn’t necessarily believe in her style of pizza combination. A play on her last name, friends call her specific pizza style “The Zerbanator”. A mix of pineapple, green olives and jalapenos was not something that David or his friends ever found quite appetizing. But dammit if David didn’t give it a try, he wouldn’t have discovered how well the sweetness from the pineapple with the saltiness of the olives, finishing with that final kick you get from the jalapeno’s, would work! Sometimes Chef’s just can’t predict how some of these surprising combos will turn out. David ended up selling it in honour of his friend and people loved it as much as The Zerbanator! One of the main things people should realize is for a Chef inspiration can come from anywhere, it’s the task ahead on making it work for everyone to enjoy!
The world of Ketchup is a domain that David has centered in on. When asked by his customers if he’s going to do BBQ or Hot sauces, the answer for right now seems to be a hard no. There is already such a wide variety available and so many people making similar options next to each other that it wouldn’t make sense for his work to get lost in the mix. “Well why don’t you at least make a spicier version?” The answer to that is simple: take one of the 10 bottles of hot sauce you more than likely already have in your fridge and add it to whatever you’re eating with The Ketchup Project. BOOM. Look at you, chef-at-home!
David takes pride in putting a face to a product. And there’s nothing more powerful than a father/daughter duo to show you the people behind the product you’re buying. David’s young daughter is also their biggest supporter and cheerleader for The Ketchup Project as well! Together, they show a human side to their adventures eating out, and comically demonstrate how yucky the “other” ketchups are when they’re served table side. All you have to do is follow his instagram page to see their adventures! It’s also a great way to keep up to date on where and when David and The Ketchup Project are going to pop up next.
The Ketchup Project is something that is new and unique to not only this city, but to the world of ketchup. And we’re pretty lucky that we have a creator like David, who is so excited about turning the foundations of our food, into products that give us a whole new perspective on what they can be.
As we’re chatting over coffee David comments on my Blue Jays hat and I find that he is a huge baseball fan. A huge stats guy, so much so that as I was trying to keep up with the limited knowledge I know of the Jays rotation this season, one stat still is easy to see. It can easily be said that he sure hit a home run with his project! Go ahead! Step up to the plate and give it a try ;)