Ottawa’s own ‘Major Craig’ is poster boy at LCBO across the province

Ottawa’s own ‘Major Craig’ is poster boy at LCBO across the province

What started with three chutney varieties in 2009 — and growing — is now part of month-long LCBO Taste Local, Live Local campaign with Beau’s beer

The poster boy himself, Andrew Craig

The poster boy himself, Andrew Craig

OCT 08 14 – 4:45 PM — Sometimes good fortune comes along quite by happenstance — as Ottawa’s own Andrew Craig a.k.a. Major Craig’s Chutney recently discovered, featured this month in posters at LCBO outlets across the province as part of the liquor store’s Taste Local, Live Local promotion.

Craig finds himself among roughly 20 poster boys and girls featuring the smiling faces of Ontario brewers, vintners, chefs and food artisans, plastered at the end of aisles and on walls. The poster promotion winds up next week.

Taste Local Love Local_LCBOIn this case, the featured Ottawa product is Major Craig’s Butternut and Beer chutney made with Beau’s Lug Tread Lager available at boutique food shops across the region.

Not every store carries every poster, but we found one today and Craig was only too happy to pose.

(As it turns out, the LCBO went looking for a photo and spotted the perfect match that appeared April 27 in this blog about the first annual McKeen Glebe Pop-Up Market at the Glebe Community Centre.)

Gee, how did it all happen you ask?

“I was approached at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Picton last June by someone, but I don’t recall who. We had a chutney and black garlic display there and we were talking about our Butternut and Beer chutney made with Beau’s Lug Tread. That was basically it — at the time, anyway,” says Craig, 42, a former general manager for The Works Gourmet Hamburgers.

Left, my original photo of Andrew Craig taken at the McKeen Glebe Pop-Up Market in April; right, Andrew Craig holds his poster today at the liquor store

Left, my original photo of Andrew Craig taken at the McKeen Glebe Pop-Up Market in April; right, Andrew Craig holds his poster today at the liquor store

“A month or two later I got a call from the same fellow who said he wanted to interview me for the LCBO Live Local campaign. He said I’d be on a poster in stores across Ontario during a month-long promotion this fall, and that was all I really knew.”

Oh, but the story gets better …

“So we did an interview by email where I answered all kinds of questions about our chutneys, our new line of black garlic, the company and how I became involved with Beau’s. That was about it for awhile,” Craig recalls, over lunch today at Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar in Westboro.

“Then about a month after that they asked me for a photo of myself, so I sent along some snapshots taken on my iPhone. But the resolution wasn’t good enough to blow up into a poster, so they went on the Internet and found the image they wanted on your blog taken at the food fair in the Glebe last April. After that, everything fell together.”

craig1

Indeed it did, just as things have percolated along happily since Craig introduced just three chutneys in 2009 beginning with Major Craig’s North India Chutney (using his great, great grandfather’s recipe developed in the 1800s while he served as a British supply officer stationed in India). Other inaugural chutneys included Date with Cranberry, and Classic Caribbean, both developed by Andrew Craig.

He has since created Butternut and Beer chutney and Magnificent Mango to join the lineup. Craig’s latest project involves fermenting local black garlic to create a unique taste that’s been described as an intriguing cross between, say, fig and balsamic. So far it’s pretty much available only to professional chefs who seem to snap it up as quickly as Craig can make it.

“Business has been good,” he says.

“I’ve seen a 10-per-cent increase in sales this year and I feel that’s due to the economic recovery. Over the last few years of economic recession people seemed hesitant to buy specialty food products, but now they’re more ready to try new flavours and experiment with their cooking.”

Province-wide exposure as a poster boy at LCBO stores is, well, something he can truly savour.

Left, I just had to wangle myself into a photo today with the poster boy himself

Left, I just had to wangle myself into a photo today with the poster boy himself, beside a display of tasty Beau’s beer used in his chutney

“Exposure in the LCBO lends validity to what I’m doing as a local food producer, and as an industry leader in specialty foods,” Craig says.

“It tells me I’m more of a real deal than somebody who’s just making sauce at home in the kitchen.”

(Major Craig’s, by the way, is made in a commercial, government-inspected kitchen.)

“It all helps to reinforce my legitimacy and acceptance as an artisan producer, which also helps me assist others entering the craft food business,” Craig adds.

“You know, having my face on a poster at LCBO stores across Ontario is pretty cool.”

Yeah, I’d say pretty cool too.

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Twitter: @roneade
E-mail: ronlorne[at]hotmail[dot]com
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Oh, did I mention we had lunch today at Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar in Westboro? Top, Tuna Rice Bowl with seared tataki tuna, seasoned rice, kimchi, quick pickle, shiitake mushrooms. Bottom, soup of roasted apple and beet puree with toasted walnut garnish

Oh, did I mention we had lunch today at Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar in Westboro? Top, Tuna Rice Bowl with seared tataki tuna, seasoned rice, kimchi, quick pickle, shiitake mushrooms. Bottom, soup of roasted apple and beet puree with toasted walnut garnish

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