Foodie friends from Vernon, Calgary stir up healthy sauces

Kyla Macaulay and Marican Garcia are the brain trust of Taste Buddies Gourmet

Vernon’s Kyla Macaulay (left) and Calgary pal Marican Garcia have launched Taste Buddies Gourmet sauces, which are gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free products that can be used as dressings, dips and marinades. (Photo submitted)

Vernon’s Kyla Macaulay (left) and Calgary pal Marican Garcia have launched Taste Buddies Gourmet sauces, which are gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free products that can be used as dressings, dips and marinades. (Photo submitted)

They met at a mother’s group in Calgary.

Kyla Macaulay left Alberta and returned home to the North Okanagan, settling in Vernon and founded Gumtree Catering.

Marican Garcia stayed in Calgary and launched a culinary career that has seen her working as a private chef for the past 10 years.

The foodie friends stayed in touch. When staff at Gumtree created a hugely popular salad dressing called Velvet, and Macaulay started standardizing it for bigger batches and bottling it, she shared the news with Garcia.

The ladies began talking about starting a sauce company, creating healthy sauces that double as marinades, dressings and dips.

When Macaulay sold Gumtree – which included her obtaining the rights to the Velvet sauce – she and Garcia formed Taste Buddies Gourmet and began selling their homemade delicacies.

“Marican made some amazing sauces over the summer, we sent them away for testing, then launched on Sept. 1,” said Macaulay.

Taste Buddies Gourmet sauces are gluten-free, dairy-free, and, for the most part, sugar-free. The only sugar comes from honey which is bought locally.

“We use Okanagan-sourced products,” said Garcia. “Garlic comes from Vernon. Stawn’s Honey in Vernon. And we use Brassica Mustard from Alberta to merge the two provinces in our products.”

Sauces include Farmer’s Daughter (a creamy herb ranch named in honour of Macaulay’s parents and growing up on an Enderby dairy farm); Picoso (chipotle lime ranch); Velvet Glory (roasted garlic and creamy sesame); Beekeeper (honey mustard dill).

“Our product is unique,” said Macaulay. “Even though it’s dairy-free we create a creamy sauce using aquafaba, the juice from chickpeas, and whip it up with sunflower oil so it becomes like mayonnaise.”

Added Garcia: “We want to create products that are multi-use. You can use it to cook, roast or bake, so it’s not just a dressing. And even though they are gluten- and dairy-free, you’re not missing out on the richness or creaminess.”

Taste Buddies Gourmet, said Garcia, is a “small-batch company at the moment,” but consumers are loving the sauces.

“The response has been pretty awesome,” she said. “It’s filling a need.”

“We’re focused on supporting local and we appreciate the support we’ve had back from the community,” said Macaulay. “It’s been amazing.”

The sauces can be found in Vernon, Kelowna, Calgary and Vancouver. Macaulay – the chief visionary in the partnership, with Garcia the product developer – would like to see the sauces go Canada-wide.

“Our goal is to get it across the country,” said Macaulay.

“We’re unique, Kyla and I,” smiled Garcia. “She has experience in catering and larger numbers where I have one family I cook for. She’s breaking me out of thinking small in that sense and feeding hundreds, not just two people.”

Taste Buddies Gourmet sauces are available in Vernon at Butcher Boys, Buy-Low Food, Eat Good Market, Rail Trail Market, Rail Side Market Garden, Simply Delicious, Soul Studio and Zelaney Farms; in Armstrong at Askew’s Foods; in Kelowna at the Vegetarian Butcher Canada and Fork Plant Based Market.

If you’re in Vancouver, you can source the sauces at the Vegetarian Butcher Canada, and in Calgary, you can find them at Luke’s Drug Mart, Meta4 Food, and Bon Ton Meat Market.

You can also order the product online at farmbound.ca and okazon.ca.

More information can be found on their social media pages on Instagram (@taste_buddies_gourmet) and Facebook (@TasteBuddiesGourmet).

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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