What’s that you say? You’ve never had chutney?? Well, why not try some of the best! Local Ottawa boy Andrew Craig has been making the city’s best chutney since 2009. You can find it all over Ottawa, Toronto and Eastern Ontario. If you shop in a store that sells good food, chances are you’ll find Major Craig’s Chutney. Just realize you have been shopping in stores that sell mediocre food? Check out Major Craig’s website for a list of locations and get out of the super store from time to time.

(Moi) So.. why Chutney?

(Andrew) Well, you’re right, it’s not the most common of condiments… But It Should BE!  The back story really is that I was working as a restaurant Manager when the Markets crashed in 2009.  At the same time my father and I had been talking at length about the family history.  Dad’s getting older and wanted to make sure I knew more of the history.  Back to the crash.  The money wasn’t great working as a manager and Christmas was approaching.  I had the idea of doing some Crafty Christmas gifts and remembered an old family recipe for Chutney.  Dad use to make it once every few years.  As it turns out, it was a recipe from my Great, Great Grandfather – The Major.  I set out to make a batch… but you can’t just give one jar of home made chutney… so I made a few other flavours.  I hate to admit it but I began to look at products in specialty food stores with the curiosity to figure out how these local companies got their products on the shelf.  The feedback from Christmas was fantastic from coast to coast.  So, reasearch, research, research… talk, talk, talk and the right connections were made.  I knew from the start that I had some special products and that chutney would be a tough sell.  I was on the leading edge of Chutney taking the country by storm!  I still am!

Ok. Let’s back up. What is Chutney, exactly?

Well the easiest description is that it is essentially and sweet and savoury fruit relish.  It is generally used as a condiment rather than a dip, however, Chutney is easily mixed to make a great dip.
And what makes Major Craig’s Chutney Special?

One of the first principals for my chutneys was to use local farm produce.  In fact it was at a Savour Ottawa meet and greet that I connected to some of those farmers and my production factory.  So in a nut shell, good ingredients that I know their origin.  If it’s not local we take great care in sourcing our ingredients.  From there it’s about making sure we have great recipes.  We won a National Award last year so I feel good about having accomplished that.

I tend to eat most condiments straight from the jar, like a wild animal. What’s your favorite way to eat chutney?

We started out just eating it with roast beef.  Now we eat it with everything.  I have a few favorite dishes, but I really love Roistti Potatoes with goat cheese and Classic Caribbean chutney.  Oh wow is it ever fantastic… It’s one of the two recipes on my website (I highly recommend trying it). 
You have a lot of exciting thing coming up. Tell me more about Canada’s First Black Garlic.

I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!  The back story is that, well to be honest, last year kind of sucked for sales… for everyone I know in the industry it was the same thing… but most specialty food companies I know have several types of products or product lines.  I knew Major Craig’s would have to expand to survive so I began to look for not so common condiments 🙂  I was actually going to do chimichury and Piri-piri sauce but as I tested recipes one of the big companies came out with exactly those two… very weird, the universe spoke -“Dont go there!”. 

I was interested in local produce and Garlic stood out in my mind.  About the same time I had been introduced to Black Garlic.  I was thrilled with the idea and the flavour and this area grows a lot of Garlic!  But how do I make it?  That was another question.  Fortunes, and the Universe, kept pushing me in this direction.  I met the right people that helped me make the right connections and so began my research project with La Cite Collegiale to unlock the secrets of Black Garlic.  We have discovered some great things about using local garlic vs the cheep Chinese garlic that other products on the market use (there is 1 in the US company and a few in China and Korea that make Black Garlic).  The quality will be out of this world, the antioxidants are double regular garlic and the flavours are spectacular! 

A huge difference will be that Major Craig’s will be the Only company offering it in a powder form for culinary use.  At the moment I have a steak marinating in the fridge with just Black Garlic and red wine… it smells so amazing.  This product will be the next culinary phenomenon in Canada!  There have been some doubters but the way we will present the product will turn doubters into lovers. The potential has been unlocked and is now unlimited in its use.       

Andrew has a few other surprises up his sleeve… and all will be revealed in due time. Until then… get yourself some chutney!