At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, corporate catering chef Doug Brown found himself on the unemployment line.
After nearly 6 years in corporate catering with about 15 years in restaurants before that, Brown, 35, a graduate of the Art Institute of Philadelphia with a culinary arts degree, was at a crossroads in his career.
Knowing the crushing impact the coronavirus was going to have on corporate America, and changing the way food is prepared, he realized early on that he would have to do something new in the food business.
As he was considering what was next, he happened to take a trip out to Amish country in nearby Lancaster County. He stopped at a local farmer’s market and discovered shrubs, a concentrated syrup that combines fruit, sugar, and vinegar suitable for drinking. Often used in cocktails and mocktails, shrubs have become increasingly popular.
He thought it would be fun to start experimenting with making his own shrubs, using various fruit, herb, and spice combinations.
“I really enjoy the whole process of making homemade shrubs using locally sourced ingredients,” Brown, who lives in South Philly, told Philly Grub.
Growing up on a farm in South Jersey, some of his fondest childhood memories were of his grandmother bringing huge lunch spreads out to the fields for him, his cousins, and uncles. As a result, using what was available and in season is an ethos he has espoused throughout his culinary career.
“She made simple and delicious meals, and her ‘big on flavor, not on fuss’ philosophy inspired me to pursue a career in the culinary arts,” Brown recalled affectionately.
Bringing that same philosophy to his small-batch shrub operation was important. When he thought about what to name his handcrafted, all-natural concoctions, again, he went back to his childhood. Farmhouse Flavors Preserves was born.
When making the shrubs, he noticed there was a lot of waste. Instead of discarding it, he decided to make preserves out of the “pickled” fruit resulting in very tasty jams, marmalades, butters, and chutneys.
Doug is selling his shrubs and preserves via Google form and is offering free delivery within 5 miles of 19145. A nominal fee of $5 is added to deliveries over 5 miles and up to 25 miles max. He also offers pickup around 22nd and Snyder Avenue. He’s also looking at vending at some farmer’s markets in the city in the coming months.
“These shrubs and preserves are a fun way to elevate the at-home dining experience. You’ll enjoy them, I promise.”