Partner profile: David’s Condiments

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Yorkshire Valley Farms is pleased to be partnering with entrepreneur and healthy food advocate David Marcus of David’s Condiments to launch a new Lemon Herb Spice Rub Chicken at select Longo’s locations. If you ever have the chance to meet David, and you just might since he manages all his demos himself, you’ll quickly feel his passion and energy for creating low-sodium, preservative-free spice rubs and marinades. We recently chatted with David to learn more about how he got into the food business, what makes him love his job so much, and what his favourite way to enjoy chicken is.

What is your background? What made you decide to become a food entrepreneur?
I have always had an entrepreneurial interest. I am an accountant by training, with a specialization in retail. Over the years, I had the opportunity to work with many successful retail brands within Canada. My work involved quite a bit of travelling. Getting home for the weekend, the last thing I wanted was another meal out. I found myself really looking forward to a home cooked meal. For me, cooking is therapeutic. Then I met my wife, who is a qualified Chef. We would cook together for friends and family, and our guests were always lining up for an invitation to dine at our house.

When health concerns within our family caused us to change our eating habits, I discovered what was possible in terms of flavourful cooking without salt. My father went in for routine heart surgery 3 weeks before my wedding. He did not come through the surgery. My father-in-law went in for similar heart surgery weeks later. He survived, but major lifestyle changes were required, including having to go on a salt-free diet. Over the next 3 years, my wife and I put a real emphasis on salt-free cooking to suit his dietary needs. Even with the changes, our friends were always so complimentary of our cooking. Eventually a friend with a retail outlet convinced me to bottle my spices. The labels are hand drawn by my wife. That was 3.5 years ago. Now David’s Condiments are sold across Canada and in the U.S.

Your slogan is “Made from the heart for the heart”. Can you tell us more about your emphasis on heart healthy products?
The whole product line is motivated by my family. After seeing the changes required to ensure a healthy lifestyle for my father-in-law, I knew there were more people who would benefit from this kind of salt-free seasoning. Even our friends who had no need to reduce their sodium intake were complimentary of my cooking. Right from the beginning our emphasis was on products that do not contain salt. We really believe in the benefits of a reduced-sodium diet. In fact, a percentage of our profits go back to heart health research, specifically around dietary impact on cardiovascular health.

What has the response been to your low-sodium offering?
We have found that our products appeal to a range of consumers, not just those with low-sodium dietary needs. There are so many shoppers out there who are health conscious and who are simply looking for healthier options for themselves and their families. Many moms want products where they can actually pronounce all the ingredients on the label. They want to feel good about the choices they are making for their kids. We also get positive feedback from a lot of students. They are cooking for themselves for the first time and are trying to eat healthy. Our rubs and marinades make it easy for them to add a lot of flavour in a healthy way.

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You are working with Longo’s and Yorkshire Valley Farms to develop an exclusive rub for a new prepared chicken offering. Tell us more about the process of developing a new product.
Longo’s has been a leader in looking to offer a healthier product range in their stores. The partnership between Yorkshire Valley Farms and David’s Condiments was a natural fit. To develop a product, we look at what flavor combinations we like, which pairings work well, and then see how we can create great flavor without adding salt. The first ingredient in so many products is salt, but here’s no salt in our products. We started our business with David’s steak rub, which is a tastier, healthier version of a Montreal steak rub. Then came David’s Spicy, a spicier version of the steak rub. To perfect our flavours, we also take feedback from consumers. They tell us what flavours they are looking for and we figure out how we can create that combination for them.

The Lemon Herb Spice Rub used for the prepared chicken is exclusive to Longo’s. Can you tell us more about the flavours of this recipe?
For this spice rub, we use the powerful flavour of herbs. We’ve added lemon peel, lemon oil, and lemon seasoning, then added garlic flakes and black pepper to bring it life. It’s made with all natural ingredients. Here’s a bonus: because of all the lemon it’s high in vitamin C, providing 10% of the Recommended Daily Allowance.

What is your favourite way to enjoy chicken?
I am cooking all the time, using different ingredients and experimenting. For me, the flavour of a whole organic chicken is night and day compared to conventional. Organic chicken is just so much more flavourful! I like to butterfly a whole chicken. I marinate it with olive oil and a sprinkle of my chicken rub and let it rest overnight in the fridge. When I am ready to cook the chicken, I add fresh lemon juice. Or I like chicken with my Piri Piri rub.

What’s next for David’s Condiments?
Continuing to develop healthy food products that make people happy! I love cooking for people. Food puts smiles on people’s faces. I never got the same reaction from dealing with numbers in accounting. People relate to food; they enjoy good food. Creating that experience for people is so gratifying. A customer came up to me at a demo and revealed his scar from heart surgery. He was so thankful to have a product that complies with his diet. All I can think is “What a fantastic day. I’ve had a positive impact on someone’s life.” For me, helping people to live a healthier life, what could be better than that?

To learn more about David’s Condiments, visit davidscondiments.com

You can find the new Lemon Herb Spice Rub Whole and Half Chicken in The Kitchen at these Longo’s locations:
Maple Leaf Square, 15 York St, Toronto
York Mills, 808 York Mills Road, Toronto
Aurora, 650 Wellington St E, Aurora
North Oakville, 338 Dundas Street East, Oakville
Leaside, 93 Laird Dr, Toronto
Rutherford, 5283 Rutherford Rd, Woodbridge
Bayview, 7355 Bayview Ave, Thornhill

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#YVFChickenRun

Since June, July and August are the months of beautiful weather and fun festivals, we decided to make the best of it all and hit the road with our organic chicken. This summer we partnered with 5 food trucks that visited various retailer locations and the hottest festivals of the summer, and served up Yorkshire Valley Farms inspired dishes.

Charcoal-Grilled Chicken Tacos from El Gastronómo Vagabundo

Charcoal-Grilled Chicken Tacos from El Gastronómo Vagabundo

Folks tasted our chicken at Flavours of Niagara Festival with El Gastronómo Vagabundo, Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival with Gorilla Cheese, Spalsh Festival and Riot Fest with The Feisty Jack, and the Oakville Waterfront Festival with Gourmet Gringos. Not one weekend was wasted!

Krystian Catala of Gourmet Gringos at Oakville Waterfront Festival

Krystian Catala of Gourmet Gringos at Oakville Waterfront Festival

The line-ups continued at major retailers such as Nature’s EmporiumLongo’s and The Real Canadian Superstore. Matt Basile from Fidel Gastro’s and his food truck, Priscilla, parked outside of the stores and handed out free samples of his famous sandwiches and tacos filled with our organic chicken. It’s safe to say there wasn’t much left over.

Nature's Emporium with Fidel Gastro's

Nature’s Emporium with Fidel Gastro’s

We had such a wonderful time with this program because between retailers and festivals, we were able share our wholesome, organic chicken to new fans and friends, along with the old. We take pride in the food we produce; it’s important to us to that consumers are aware that good food is within arm’s reach.

Apple Butter Wings from The Feisty Jack

Apple Butter Wings from The Feisty Jack

The other highlight of this venture was that these 5 incredible food trucks integrated our organic chicken into their menus. Our chicken was grilled, smoked and fried up into these delicious dishes:

Chicken Tinga ~ Gourmet Gringos

Charcoal-Grilled Chicken Tacos ~ El Gastrónomo Vagabundo

Smoked Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwiches ~ Gorilla Cheese

Indian Chicken Tikka &  Apple Butter Wings ~ The Feisty Jack

Talk about variety!

Smoked Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Gorilla Cheese

Smoked Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Gorilla Cheese

A big thanks goes out to El Gastrónomo Vagabundo, Gorilla Cheese, The Feisty Jack, Gourmet Gringos and Fidel Gastro’s for making our summer filled with fun and great food. The summer may be over, but it will never be forgotten!

Finger Lickin’ Fried Chicken

Fried chicken has been a popular family indulgence around the globe for centuries, with some of its early roots stereotypically tied to the black communities of the Southern States.  But if Toronto’s insatiable appetite for the crispy golden skin of a chicken leg is any indication, you don’t have to speak with a southern drawl or live in Tornado alley to enjoy a bucket of the stuff.

But, let’s be honest with ourselves. No ones tucking into a platter full of deep-fried goodness, with a side of sausage gravy, biscuits and candied sweet potatoes thinking they’re going to honestly count their weight watchers points.  Having said that, there is always room for a treat, and there is always ways to make that treat a little more justifiable. How? Next time you’re whipping up the southern goods at home, do your family a favour by choosing a free range organic bird from Yorkshire Valley Farms.  The result will be a more healthful, flavourful chicken that will be worth every mouthwatering and juicy calorie. Here’s one of our favourite recipes to get you started …Grilled Roasted Chicken from Barton Seaver.

Any get together would be the perfect time to bust out this tasty homemade version! But then there are always going to be those less-festive occasions when the craving hits, and you need your fried chicken fix on the fly.  Well, thankfully, recent industry research has suggested such a steep increase in the demand for comfort food classics, making fried chicken a popular offering on top restaurant menus across Toronto.  So next time you’re in a pinch, check out one of the hot spots on the top of our list:

The Stockyards Buttermilk Fried Chicken

The Stockyards’ Buttermilk Fried Chicken

The Harlem Underground

Chef Grant van Gameren from Bar Isabel

The Drake Cafe's Southern Fried Chicken

The Drake Cafe’s Southern Fried Chicken

Chef David Chang at Momofuku (Toronto)

Chef David Chang at Momofuku (Toronto)

Electric Mud BBQ

Electric Mud BBQ  photo credit Craig Moy

Each of these restaurants has their own unique spice blends, batters, and techniques, proving that fried chicken is a totally personal thing. So take a little inspiration from the pros and get creative! Next time you’re at the store, pick up an organic chicken from Yorkshire Valley farms, throw in your favourite seasonings and flavours, or just use the guide above. Don’t let this summer fly by without indulging in this organic version of a classic Southern treat!

The Night Market Shines Bright

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On June 18th and 19th, the Stop Community Food Centre transformed the back alley of the old Honest Eds into the Night Market pop-up mecca for foodies.

Last year’s single-evening event completely sold out and raised a whopping $57,000 for The Stop, a local Not-For-Profit that provides food bank services, community cooking, food advocacy, and education among other food and nutrition services.

Thankfully, their success meant adding a 2nd night to the 2013 event, and watch as the 2000 tickets flew off the online ticket site in under two hours time.

This was obviously not a typical food event. Over the course of the two nights, Night Market saw about 90 local restaurants, wineries, breweries, distilleries and refreshment companies serving up an all-you-can-eat-and-drink feast to hungry (and lucky) ticket holders. In between sips and nibbles, event goers also got a wiggle their hips alongside the remarkably animated dancing band or just admire the stunning vendor booths created by professional and student design teams from schools like OCAD and Ryerson.

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This year, Yorkshire Valley Farms was a proud sponsor of the event, donating over 160 kg of chicken breasts to the chefs looking to use chicken at the event.

The result? When you’re cooking with a premium product from Yorkshire Valley Farm, it’s pretty hard to end up with anything less than tasty, but still, each of the chefs well exceeded all of our lofty expectations! There were tacos, dumplings, wings and more – each dish showcasing the beautiful flavour of YVF, but with such diverse preparations, inspirations and ingredients that the product’s versatility also shown through. Our restaurant partners this year include Babi & Co, Fonda Lola, FeasTO, Hawthorne, 416 Snack Bar and Universal Grill.

And while all of the YVF chicken dishes at Night Market would have tasted incredible in any place, at any time, knowing that it was contributing to a worthy cause made every bite a bit better. This was certainly the case for James Sculthorpe, President of the company, who believes solely in the Stop’s mandate that everyone, regardless of financial or social situation, should have access to good food.

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James Sculthorpe, Yorkshire Valley Farms President (left) with Nick Saul,  CFCC President and CEO of Community Food Centres

James got into the organic chicken farming business with the dream of making a whole organic chicken less expensive than a large pizza.  So supporting an initiative that also helps enable families to eat well regardless of budgetary restraints, and that provides healthful, satisfying and culturally acceptable food through their food bank, was a perfect fit for the Farm.

But don’t fret if missed out on some of the Night Market’s delicious chicken dishes. You can pick up a package of Yorkshire Valley Farms chicken breasts, take a little inspiration from the pros and whip up your own healthy version at home!  And while you perfect your own chicken dinners, check out the Stop website for more information about their important initiative and programs, and be on the look out next Spring for information on the 2014 event.

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