Ketchup and I have somewhat of a long history. So I am sure you can imagine my excitement when we began Purveyors Kitchen. Finally, my experience with ketchup would pay off: We could launch a ketchup line that would be based on quality ingredients and flavors. A condiment that when placed on quality, would elevate quality.
More on this new line of natural and organic ketchup in a graph or two. First a bit of my history with the main reason French fries were invented.
My first memory of ketchup was nightmarish. I almost choked on a small bite of beef cutlet. I was three. The cutlet was dipped in ketchup. My uncle, a fireman, saved me. He ate ketchup on everything: eggs, potatoes, fish, and even, sacrilegiously, hot dogs.
I learned to eat Gorton’s of Gloucester Fish Sticks on Fridays when dining at my Catholic school cafeteria by dipping those deep fried rectangles of battered cod, in warm, most-likely watered-down ketchup.
The Sixties proved to be good years for Heinz Ketchup. In Livonia, Michigan, at the crossroads of 5 Mile and Farmington Roads, a postage stamp-sized one story hamburger stand, Bates, stood tall in the eyes of the student of Stevenson and Bentley. The grill chicks would load up our bags of 25 cent burgers and fries with enough Heinz Ketchup pouches to fill bottles at the bar across the street. I also found a fondness for pouches then. More on this later.
I fell head over heels in J.G. Melon’s for the ketchup that accompanied the crinkle cut potatoes during happy hour. It may have been the Stoli-Martinis, but the ketchup, slap-necked onto the side of the rimmed bowl of crinkles. I fell head over heels one more time at Melon’s. More on this later, also.
The most earth-shattering ketchup incident I experienced, the one event that molded my thoughts on ketchup and has had an influence on decisions made in more than one occasion took place in New York City three months after my residential arrival. It has been said that NYC is where culinarians land looking to expand their ketchup experience. At least it was for me.
I followed in the footsteps of most struggling writers upon my arrival in The City. I faked my way into a waiter’s position at an Upper East Side restaurant at 69th and Second Ave. The Tavern of sorts welcomed guests with a casual club ambiance and a menu that was neighborhood upscale.
After a crash course in New York Saloon keep tactics and strategies I was let in on a well-known New York Saloon keep secret: The booze behind the bar was being hashed by management — cheap booze was being substituted for name brands. Once the first bottle was empty it was refilled with a cheap brand. Many restaurants in New York implemented this tactic during the 80s. Some customers brought their own bottles in and left them behind the bar with their name plaques on them.
One night just before opening I realized the dining room was in need of ketchup. I was sent to Gristede’s Market a block away to buy some ketchup. I realized then that a grocery store is a restaurant owner’s best friend. I bought ten bottles of Gristede’s Ketchup. When I got back to the restaurant, the owner, John Cobb, asked for the bag.
“John, what the hell is in this bag? I sent you for ketchup.” Cobb asked.
“It is ketchup. It’s Gristede’s. It was on sale.” I replied.
“That isn’t ketchup. There is only one brand of ketchup. It’s Heinz. Go return these and get me some ketchup.”
“Are you serious? Your pouring Hartley-Parker into a Johnny Black Bottle and you won’t serve a cheaper brand of ketchup?”
“You catch on fast, kid. Don’t ever mess with Heinz Ketchup. The customer will know. Now please go return this crap and buy some ketchup.”
In 1997 Kranston and I opened Camp Americana on Chestnut St. in San Francisco. When interviewing chefs I asked one impressive talent what his forte was. His response was deadly.
“I make ketchup. If I accept the position I want to be able to make my own ketchup.” was the most surprising response I had ever heard from a chef asked that question.
Immediately I flashed back to the John Cobb Gristede’s Ketchup incident. I went on to explain the ketchup comment had capped the interview and unless the chef candidate’s last name was Heinz I would prefer not to hire him.
That was then. This is now. Enter High Fructose Corn Syrup.
I never thought I would say this but Heinz Ketchup has moved out of my refrigerator and on to my memory mantle.
When we began to research High Fructose Corn Syrup we heard the consumer begging for a better ketchup. Think French Fries. Think kids. Think High Fructose Corn Syrup. Think very bad thing.
Call me biased. Accuse me of bragging, but our four flavors of newly launched ketchups — two natural and two organic — are incredible. And aside from their wonderful flavors, they are packaged in 11 oz. bottles. Perfect for short-shelf refrigerators or busy burger bars.
When Kranston and I decided to launch our new Kranston and Foley line of ketchup we collaborated with Food Scientist, Emerleen Basiana, who hit a bullseye with this product. After numerous meetings, test batches and tasting sessions (Emerleen spent weeks formulating the ingredients and developing flavor profiles that collectively trigger and excite the taste-buds), we decided we had a product line of natural and organic ketchup that would excite the taste buds, tantalize the tongue and please the palate in one of the most memorable tastes of ketchup you will ever experience.
Believe me. I know.
Enjoy. Kranston and Foley Ketchup comes in four flavors: Smoky Bacon, Roasted Garlic Peppercorn, Organic Chipotle and Organic Classic. They are amazing. The whole family will love them. No High Fructose Corn Syrup. They make French fries taste better. And I am sure they would do the same for those J.G. Melon crinkle cuts.
By the way, the second time I fell head over heel in Melon’s was when I met Kranston. And, yes, it was back-in-the-day. I was eating crinkle cuts, at Melon’s with Heinz Ketchup.