At A Taste of Olive, we know that not all ingredients are created equal.
It only takes one high-quality condiment to elevate an entire meal. That's why we carry 11 varieties of The Gracious Gourmet's award-winning spreads, chutneys, and tapenades including beloved flavors like All Seasons Fruit Spread, Black Olive Tapenade, Portobello Mushroom Tapenade, and Fennel Red Onion Pesto.
In honor of National Sandwich Month and National Panini Month, we chatted with Nancy Wekselbaum, The Gracious Gourmet’s Founder and Chief Chutney Officer.
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From an early age, Nancy could be found tinkering in the kitchen, and over the years, her tinkering inspired a love for food. When she wasn’t at her retail job, Nancy could be found in the kitchen cooking and entertaining friends and family.
Then, one stormy night in 2006 as Nancy was preparing a steak with homemade chutney for a friend, a power outage changed everything! Her friend was blown away by that tasty chutney and told Nancy to start her own business. As if struck with a bolt of inspiration, The Gracious Gourmet was born. Today, Dried Fruit Chutney, the very same, conceived on a dark and stormy night, some thirteen years ago was the first product launched and continues to be a favorite in the line.
Tell us a bit about The Gracious Gourmet.
At The Gracious Gourmet, we have created a line of specialty food products that transform ordinary dishes into exceptional ones with the spread of a knife. The quality of our all-natural products is second to none, and their uses are nearly unlimited. We also offer many options that are low in fat, free of gluten, vegan, natural, and minimize the use of salt and sugar.
We hear every product is still developed in your own kitchen. How do you come up with flavors?
I try to come up with a concept and then figure out what ingredients will enhance that idea. Then, I just keep testing, until I arrive at something that I think is delicious.
What do you need to make the perfect sandwich?
An excellent quality bread, a well-prepared protein (chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish, etc.), some type of greens or micro-greens, and a superb condiment to pull it all together and give the sandwich an identity!
What are some of your favorite sandwich combos?
There are so many; it is so hard to choose. The Cranberry Raspberry Blood Orange goes great on a turkey/chicken wrap, the Roasted Red Pepper Artichoke Tapenade is a delight on a salmon burger, and the Farmhouse Tomato Jam is a hit with chicken salad.
What separates The Gracious Gourmet from other spreads?
We source carefully and responsibly, curating only the finest all-natural ingredients, and we never ever use preservatives. By using super high-quality and cooking in small batches, our products taste like they were just cooked on the stove. Whether you are putting together a dinner party for a dozen or enjoying a quiet night at home, The Gracious Gourmet is here to help. Our aim is simple: we want every one of your meals to be a special occasion.
When you make a sandwich, which products are you reaching for?
I love the fig almond spread on most anything personally -- ditto for the Cranberry Raspberry Blood Orange or the Farmhouse Tomato Jam.
What are your favorite panini pairings?
You can always find me behind the grill in the summer. When it comes to grilled sandwiches, try any cheese with The Gracious Gourmet product, a tapenade with grilled veggies and mayo, or any fruit spread with chicken, duck, or pork--just to name a few.
What are your best-selling flavors?
Fig Almond Spread, Balsamic Four Onion Spread, Artichoke Parmesan Tapenade, and Black Olive Tapenade.
The Gracious Gourmet was created to make entertaining a breeze. If you could give one tip to party planners, what would it be?
Try to get everything done in advance. Do not tackle anything that is too ambitious or requires last-minute preparation. And finally, aim to spend most of your time with your guests!
How can your products help convert even the most reluctant home cooks?
Take super simple things such as an already roasted chicken, cut it up, and serve along with one of my fruit spreads – super easy. Or, make a large cheese platter of soft and hard cheeses and accompany each with a different product from The Gracious Gourmet.