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Take 5 with Alison McQuade

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Title: Chutney chef, McQuade's Celtic Chutneys
Hometown: Glasgow, Scotland

1. How did you get started selling chutney?
One year I made chutney to give away as Christmas presents. It was my grandmother's recipe and I went online to make labels and get jars. I gave some to my hairdresser and she asked me to bring some more over for one of her customers--I thought that was a wee bit cheeky! This was a gift after all. But it turned out she had a tasting going on and her customer was one of the owners of Cowgirl Creamery. My first paying customer, she said she wanted 60 of each flavor.

2. What inspires you in creating chutney?
Cocktails. I was having a Mandarin apricot drink and I thought--that would make a good chutney. Salsas inspire me too.

3.What's the difference between salsa and chutney?
Fresh Indian chutneys are very similar to salsa, but in general it's the vinegar and the maturing that make them chutney. My chutneys are cooked, and I use chunky flavorful fruit. I don't cook them down too much because I want to keep them fresh tasting.

I also like my chutneys to have a bit of bite whether it's jalapeno, habanero, or plain old cayenne. Some have malt vinegar, others have apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar. I experiment, I even used fish sauce in a chutney once and people liked it.


4. Where do you make your chutney?
In a catering kitchen. I tried working out of an Irish pub and I had to pretend I was Irish. "The Belfast and the Glasgow accent are very similar," that's what I kept telling them anyway! Needless to say I didn't last long there.

5. What are your newest and most popular flavors?
Cranberry Mandarin and a Persimmon one for Christmas. But Fig and Ginger is still most popular, although the Warming Hut out in the Presidio buys tons of the Spiced Apple. My favorite is the Habanero. I like it with scrambled eggs.

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