Maura Gramzinski | Red Camper
With the mission of "Summertime Preserved!" Red Camper is all about the journey. Born with travel and adventure bred into her genes, Maura started her Deliciousness line to celebrate the adventure.
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
A love of travel, road trip experiences, regional foods/fruits and a desire to blaze my own trail.
Tell us about your products.
We make premium preserves fit for pairing with the finest cheeses, charcuterie and spirits found, but worthy enough on their own to eat straight off a spoon.
Why do you believe in small-batch products?
We believe in making products with care and with the best ingredients we can source using prep and cooking techniques that are specific to the end taste and texture and aesthetic that we believe defines our products. We believe in using fruit at its prime and producing with the rhythms of seasons. We believe in crafting a combination of flavors that is unexpected and memorable enough that we become the bar of measurement from the time you taste our recipes forever forward. That happens to mean small-batch for us. Ultimately if we could sustain that same level of standard we have imposed on ourselves in every jar we made, and have a demand that exceeds “small-batch” production we would do our best to figure out how to do that - (think Sriracha). Ultimately, small batch fits where we are with seasons, flavors, demand and our business model. When purchasing other products that are small batch, we hope we are supporting someone else's dream to create something extraordinary, their way. This is why we believe in small-batch.
What makes your product better than the their mass produced counterparts?
Our unique methods of production, our determination to select non-GMO and organic ingredients if we can, our care in selecting fruit that meets our criteria, and our recipes that are thoughtful and innovative make our products better than most standard mass produced products.
What is your favorite small-batch treat?
My absolute favorite small batch treat sadly went out of business, Tuffy Kickshaw’s Carmel Corn. Simply amazing. Other than that I’m a big fan of The Real Dills’ seasonal Spicy Okra (best pickled okra I’ve ever had), Elevation Ketchup's Vindaloo Ketchup (ketchup made so much better), Backyard Soda’s Rootbeer syrup (tastes like the root beer my mom made when I was a kid) and Broken Shovels Dark Moon cheese and her Ethiopian roll. Delish.
What Drew You To Food?
Honestly I don’t have a strong food background. I’m not traditionally trained and feel a little bit intimidated by the chefs that have embraced Deliciousness. But I have made preserves yearly from peaches since 2000 and feel pretty confident all the practice has paid off. Since I started doing this professionally my understanding and skill with understanding flavor combinations has really developed and I have found my cooking of meals has improved. I feel like I accidentally started down a path that is ever growing and I love it.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
A variety of sources. I’m inspired by innovative chefs that are fearless in combining flavors and textures as well as bakers and cocktail makers (mixologists? Do people still say that?). Much of my inspiration and recipe development comes from my sense of smell and sight initially though. Surrounding myself with quality ingredients that smell good and look good together…taste comes later in the process but is equally important obviously.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
We have 2 products we are working on that we are pretty excited about. One probably won’t launch till next summer, since we again missed apricot season, but the other is a desert inspired blueberry that will be launching later this year.
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
Of my own? Depends on the situation. I have favorites for certain cheese’s, favorites for charcuterie, favorites for bread and butter, favorites for cocktails. But probably the recipe I’m the most proud of is the Absinthe Orange. It’s like a chameleon, ever changing to what it’s paired with.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
Arugula, I put it in everything! Haha. Not for jam though.
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
My friend had me over for dinner and made a majestic NY Strip Steak for me. I brought a mixed green and arugula (I told you) salad with sautéed portabellas & julienned zucchini from my neighbor’s garden, toasted almonds, Dark Moon cheese crumbles and Whiskey Peach Deliciousness vinaigrette. I also brought sautéed green beans with garlic and a shitake sesame glaze (Annie’s dressings..delicious!) and toasted rosemary and smoked salt crostini made from bread from Marcyzk’s.
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
Ernest Hemingway. I suspect he knew good food, and isn’t a stranger to booze and it would be an interesting interaction I think.
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other artisans?
Make time for yourself. Schedule it. I tend to work until I physically can’t. There is ALWAYS something more you can be doing for your business, no matter what. It’s critical that you make time to rest, time to exercise, time to do nothing. Go on vacations. Don’t just work 7 days a week for years on end.
My advice would be the same. I’d also advise to think long and hard about starting. It’s a lot harder than you think it will be.
What Other Local Food Artisans or Chefs Do You Admire?
Chef Jasinski of course. It’s refreshing to have a female role model in a male driven world. She is a true leader. I also admire Chef Daniel Asher and think he is one of the greatest humans I’ve ever met. Not only is he driven to create sustainable healthy interesting food he is also one of the friendliest most genuine humans I’ve encountered. Other local food artisans I admire… there are so many great producers here in Denver! I’d say, The Real Dill, Elevation Ketchup, Backyard Soda, Modern Gingham, Jojo’s, Happy Leaf Kombucha, Glazed & Confused Donuts, Ritual Chocolate (recently moved..but started here), and Little Peaks are my favorites.
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
That’s pretty tough. I have a lot of favorites. If I wanted to leave this earth remembering the best things about it I guess I’d want a cold glass of water, a fresh tree ripened peach, a cob of corn with butter and salt and a piece of Navajo frybread. And some ice cream.
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?
I love great food and good restaurant experiences, but my favorite is simple, great food on a picnic, anywhere.
What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
Photographing, looking at art, taking hikes with my dog, watching eclectic movies, and of course roadtrips. Lots and lots of roadtrips.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
Funny, because that’s often a struggle in our shared kitchen space. My favorite days are those that have a mix of Mexican, Cuban, indie, jazz, blues a bit of electronica and some Tool thrown in for good measure. Really the only thing I can’t take is women bashing rap and angry metal.