UMAMI Crave the Fifth

Your Seasoned Chef Inc, owned by sisters-in-law Joanna Best and Stephanie Gaudette, is the Kelowna BC-based producer of UMAMI Crave the Fifth Dressing, Dip and Finishing Sauces and Ready to Cook Grain Blend Soup/Salad Kits. UMAMI Original Dressing, Dip and Finishing Sauce, known previously as the “cider vin”, was actually created by Chef Justin Best, Stephanie’s brother and Joanna’s husband. Joanna & Justin both attended culinary school in Atlantic Canada and started their careers by cooking their way West. It was in 2009 that they arrived in Kelowna and Justin first encountered a cider emulsion created with nutritional yeast. He proceeded to create his own version of this style of dressing and has been offering it on his menus with raving reviews ever since. Every so often, Justin and Joanna would casually discuss making and selling the cider vin themselves, but with a growing family and busy working lives, it just didn’t happen. Until…

Stephanie, a registered nurse, and her family moved from New Brunswick to Kelowna in 2014. With children of similar ages and spouses who worked long and irregular hours, Joanna and Stephanie spent a lot of time together and shared a lot of meals. By this time, the cider vin was a staple on the menu of a very popular local eatery (BNA Brewing), and it didn’t take long for talks about bottling and selling it to resume. In April 2018, the cider vin was available for purchase for the first time as UMAMI Dressing Dip and Finishing Sauce. 

Today, nearly four years after the initial launch, UMAMI Crave the Fifth Line includes three vegan and gluten free dressing, dip and finishing sauces:  UMAMI Original, UMAMI Curried Maple and UMAMI Chipotle Caesar, as well as three gluten free/vegan ready to cook grain blends that can be prepared as either a soup or a salad: UMAMI Ensalada Fresca, UMAMI Garam Masala, and UMAMI Harvest.  The sauces are widely available throughout the Okanagan, Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and swiftly expanding to other retail locations throughout BC and into Alberta.  Retail distribution of the grain salad blends are planned for 2022.

Since the beginning, we have been making small, yet significant changes to our ingredients: switching from store-bought maple syrup to pure, organic maple syrup; organic dijon mustard and red wine vinegar, both sulphite free; and most recently, regular canola oil to non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil. Our sauces are shelf-stable for at least a year and contain no added preservatives.

Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?

Answer: The bulk of our ingredients are not manufactured locally, but all are purchased from and shipped by Canadian companies. The maple syrup used in our sauces is purchased from Maple Roch, a social enterprise in Summerland, BC, who purchases it from New Brunswick maple syrup producers (both Joanna and Stephanie and from NB). Our spice blends and many of our grains are purchased from a small, family-owned local bulk food store.  Kelowna Instaprint does a fabulous job with our marketing and print materials, while Summit Labels in Port Coquitlam prints our labels. Our bookkeeping and accounting needs are met by local, small businesses, Amber Richert of Your Kickass Brand in Kelowna is our graphic artist extraordinaire.  We ship primarily with Diamond Delivery, Canpar, ATS, and Canada Post and we are fortunate to have Simply Canadian of North Vancouver be our partner in distribution.  When we do samplings or demos, we make every effort to source the vegetables from local farmers. We try to take advantage of opportunities to partner with other small businesses by pairing their products with ours or collaborating on giveaways through social media.

Question: What social and environmental practices are you proud of?

Answer: We are continually looking for ways to package our goods in a way that reflects our desire to minimize environmental impact. We use recyclable glass bottles, and we are looking to source compostable packaging for our grain salad kits.

We try to support causes that focus on the wellness of children and families like youth mental health and the food bank; we do this both through cash donations and by donating our time and expertise where it can be of benefit.  For instance, we have offered our time and facility to create soups using donated produce to create soups that can be frozen for later distribution to families in need.  In November 2019, we had school children help decorate paper gift bags for Christmas and sold them by donation to the food bank at various markets that we attended.

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