Catalina Dudka

Caramoomel founder and CEO Catalina Dudka with one of the company's bestsellers, hot garlic pepper wine jelly.

After almost three decades in business, Kelowna gourmet spreads and wine jelly company Caramoomel hit the big time last month.

A deal with Tree of Life Canada, one of the largest distributors of specialty and natural foods in Canada, means Caramoomel goodies will be on more store shelves coast to coast.

Of course, you'll still be able to find Caramoomel items at all your favourite local stores, such as Urban Fare, Save-On Foods, Safeway and many Okanagan wineries.

Caramoomel founder and CEO Catalina Dudka spoke with Courier reporter Steve MacNaull about the trajectory of the company.

Courier: How did the Caramoomel name come about?

Dudka: When we started Caramoomel it was with caramel-dulce de leche products.

At the time dulce de leche was completely unknown and we coined caramel with moo in the middle. As we added products to our repertoire we trademarked Caramoomel and kept it as the business name.

Courier: The company now makes 22 different gourmet items. Which ones did you

launch with in 1990 and which ones are most popular now?

Dudka: In the beginning we started with dulce de leche caramel and apple butter as products for children. After we found our footing in the specialty food

market, we adapted more family recipes to commercial products, such as veggie

caviar and garlic eggplant spread. Then our clients requested we create wine

jelly. Right now, and since they were introduced, veggie caviar and hot

garlic pepper wine jelly top the best seller list.

Courier. What is your favourite Caramoomel item? Do you eat it all the time?

Dudka: Oh that it a tough one.

I enjoy the veggie spreads a lot: veggie caviar and all-vegetable antipasto.

Also, I love the apple butter and spicy ginger apple butter, especially on toasted bagels. And I cannot get enough of the chocolate caramel fondue spreads. They are delicious with apple slices.

Courier: When not eating Caramoomel products, what's your go-to food?

Dudka: I absolutely adore food. I love curry, Indian or Thai. But my all time

favorite meal is afternoon or high tea. Wherever I go I will find the best place in the area that serves it and will indulge in the ritual.

Courier: Congratulations on your new partnership with Tree of Life Canada.

What does it mean for the company?

Dudka: It means our products will be available across Canada in a variety of retail

outlets like never before. It also means a lot of work as we have to bust our

butts to meet the demand. We couldn't be happier.

Courier: What sets Caramoomel products apart from other gourmet or grocery store

brands?

Dudka: No. 1, they taste great. We do not skimp on quality ingredients. We stick to fruits and veggies that are grown locally in the Okanagan so they are at the

ultimate in freshness when we process them to be used through out the year

for cooking.

Our recipes started as dishes that were served in our family

for generations. We just adapted them to make bigger batches. We work hard to

maintain the highest of standards both in flavour palates and food safety.

This may sound self-serving, but in all the years we have been creating our

products, I have yet to taste many that even compare.

Courier: You're travelling with Caramoomel. Where next?

Dudka: We are being represented at the Canadian Health Food Association

shows in Vancouver and Toronto this year via Tree of Life.

I will be personally be at the Tree of Life national sales and marketing meeting 2018.

This is quite the affair. it will take place at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver. It's a week long

tradeshow and related events, which are attended by Tree of Life clients and

sales reps. I am looking forward to it as I get to introduce some major

industry players to our products.

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