Another Local Foods + Treat Series: Interview with Mark Hungarland of Doux South Pickles
February 26, 2016
As I write this post I am actually enjoying some roasted sweet potatoes with Drunken Mustard(and clearly not practicing mindful eating). Besides a strong grainy mustard, I absolutely love anything pickled, which is why I knew immediately I wanted to feature Doux South. Besides their wonderful variety of products, they contain no artificial flavors or preservatives, just good tasting pickled vegetables. Another personal favorite is the Angry Cukes - amazingly crunchy and just the right amount of heat, sweetness and dill. Enjoy this interview and please share with me your favorite Doux South product.
(Yes Mark, I am feeling more ambitious and will try Little Rock Cavier)
If you could define Doux South Pickles food philosophy in one sentence it would be....
Our goal is to provide traditional southern pickled vegetables with a fun, creative twist for the home chef/entertainer to use as a flavorful ingredient in a entrée or appetizer. And they can use the whole jar- the brines make great vinaigrettes, marinades, and cocktails.
2. What is most important (i.e. quality, whole ingredients..)?
We make all of our products ourselves so we maintain control of the process and ingredients, ensuring that we get the exact flavor and texture that we want in our pickles, every time. Using the freshest, highest quality vegetables is critical. To get the freshest, we buy Georgia-grown produce as much as possible.
3. How many people are involved in the development of your taste profiles?
Actually, it’s just one. Atlanta chef Nick Melvin is a co-founder and one of the owners of Doux South and has developed all of our recipes. Nick began pickling as a boy in New Orleans and continued to develop his art as he went through culinary school and at all the restaurants he has worked at since. He knows his way around a pickle and we love trying his creations. The rest of the team might offer some ideas on tweaking the flavor, but only from a distance-ha!
4. What is your process in the development? (follow up to #3)
It’s pretty simple- discuss product ideas with Nick and let him go. He creates wonderful brines that surprise and delight, without overwhelming the natural flavor of the vegetables.
5. What is your favorite way to enjoy any Doux South product? I love the Drunken Tomato Catsup on fries!
The easy answer is right out of a cold jar! My favorite simple uses are putting Drunken Tomatoes in frittatas; mixing chopped Angry Cukes into ham salad; and putting Mean Green Tomatoes on burgers. I’m starting a campaign to replace the ubiquitous “Chicago hot dog” with a “Doux South Dog”, using our Creole Mustard, Dueling Peppers Relish, and Chow Chow on a nice frankfurter or sausage from Pine Street Market.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, we have a ton of great recipes from Nick and other Atlanta chefs on our website. My favorite is the succotash using our Little Rock Caviar.
6. Why pickles? You are right, I won't ever think of pickles the same way.
Pickled vegetables are part of our southern heritage and we need to preserve that, no pun intended. We wanted to show that they are still relevant today and not only make a great, healthy snack, but a flavorful ingredient that can be added to a whole slew of recipes.
7. Where does your produce come from?
We source as much local product as possible. During the winter months, we expand to source from all over the southeastern US. The nice thing about being based in the South, besides being based in the South, is that you can get fresh produce from the region year round.
8. Why do you think consumers are concerned with "no additives" and "clean" foods?
I think consumers are more educated today about their health and how what you eat, can affect your health. You have to ask, if you don’t have to, why put something in your food that isn’t natural? We don’t have to, so we don’t. We are very proud of our clean labels and of using only natural ingredients.
9. What is your pickling process? Small batches?
We make pickles pretty much like our grandmothers did, only with a little more scientific precision on the pH, processing time and temperature. We hand pack the herbs, spices, and vegetables in every jar and then process them in boiling water. Co-owner Chase Bruton runs our operations and brings years of pickling experience to the kitchen. While it’s very much a small batch, manual process, Chase has made it an efficient process, allowing us to continue to grow.
10. Future of Doux South?
We have a small team, but a great team, and really enjoy working together. So, we want to continue having fun growing our business and expand our reach throughout the South. We are still in the early stages of supplying to restaurants, but think that market will be a nice complement to our retail jar business.
Nick is never at a loss for new product ideas, so you can expect some of those coming down the pike. We are working on some new products made from the fermentation process and hope to commercialize those for our foodservice customers by mid-year.
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