You’ve heard of the basic tastes: sweet, bitter, salty, and sour – but do you know the fifth taste, Umami? It was discovered by Japanese scientists and is loosely translated as “a pleasant savoury taste.”
UMAMI Crave the Fifth Dressing, Dip and Finishing Sauce is nutritional yeast based vegan and gluten-free bottle of possibilities with a taste that will blow your mind. Trust me. Owned by sisters-in-law, Joanna Best and Stephanie Gaudette, the product was created by Joanna’s husband (and Stephanie’s brother), Justin Best, Executive Chef for BNA Eatery & Brewery and Skinny Dukes Glorious Emporium in Kelowna BC.
“My husband stumbled across this style of dressing in 2013. He made his own, brought it home, insisting that I HAD to try it,” says Joanna, “as soon as I tasted it, I loved it.” From then on, Justin has featured it on his menus, and everyone raves about it. Over the course of the next 5 years, Justin kept thinking they should bottle the delicious dressing. People kept asking for the recipe and begging them to bottle it so they could enjoy the goodness at home.
With a growing family and busy lives, Justin and Joanna never seriously considered a side hustle with the “cider vin”. Until 2017 that is, when Joanna went away on a 5-day trip to London away from her kids and thought “I need something different in my life and this has been sitting in the back of my head for a long time now. I want to do this, but I don’t want to do this alone.” Stephanie and Joanna teamed up and decided to go for it – the great sister-in-law duo.
“Our first event-I call it our coming out party-was in April of 2018 when we sold our first bottle of UMAMI” says Joanna. “We were approached by gentleman who asked if he could carry our product in his grocery store once we were ready.” That summer, UMAMI was sold for the first time in a retail outlet – Peter’s Independent Grocer, in Kelowna. Today, two years later, UMAMI can be found in 25 outlets throughout the Okanagan and 4 in the lower mainland.
These two driven ladies have managed to get where they are by working at UMAMI on a part time basis, while working their “regular” jobs (Jo is a chef, Stephanie a nurse). “If we’ve come as far as we have over the past 2 years working part-time,” says Stephanie “imagine what we will do once we dedicate all of our time to this business.” They say the next steps are looking at scaling up their production and expanding distribution. “We’re at that space where we need to expand,” says Joanna, “improve, research, learn every day, asking the right questions and meet the right people.”
Joanna and Stephanie plan to run with the “UMAMI Crave the Fifth” brand, creating a variety of products to add to their savoury, original UMAMI. They have additional sauce flavours in development and are working to bring their very popular ready to cook UMAMI salad bags to wholesalers. Even an UMAMI hummus might just be in the making; we couldn’t be more excited to try it!
There has been considerable change in the world since the interview for this blog post. While unable to meet face to face with customers and share UMAMI Crave the Fifth with them personally, Stephanie and Joanna are committed to keeping their current retailers stocked with product. They do not have an online store, but welcome inquiries about purchasing product for shipping through their website www.umamicravethefifth.com. UMAMI can also be added to purchases from nichewine.com and mapleroch.com. The directive to stay home provides a lot of time for product and recipe development; when the world is no longer dealing with Covid-19, they will have many exciting new things to share. Stay well.
by Sierra Simpson