Life With Ferris: Bonny And Alan Shuptrine's Twisted Relish Is Off The Charts

Sunday, October 13, 2013 - by Ferris Robinson
Twisted Relish
Twisted Relish

        Bonny and Alan Shuptrine aren't much for letting moss grow. Or staying on the straight and narrow. Or keeping their successful career inside any box.

        Both of them come from artistic families, and both have an innate appreciation of art. And as true artists are able to do, they see art wherever it is. Just because it's not in  a framed canvas (although they see plenty of that art at Shuptrine Fine Art and Shuptrine's Gold Leaf Designs, the companies they both run) doesn't meant it's not art.

25in;">        "We all love art in all categories, including the culinary arts. Our family, including our two boys Ben and Jake, love watching cooking shows on television. We just naturally enjoy seeing how things are made and imagining the 'what ifs' and possibilities," Bonny says. "Our favorite chef is Guy Fierre - we just laugh at all the fun things he does with food."

        As creative in the kitchen as they are in the art world, the Shuptrines have been tweaking Bonny's family pickle recipe and Alan's grandmother's sweet pickles for years. "We have wars to see whose is better, and taste tests have erupted, and of course the boys put in their two cents worth as well," Bonny says. Alan is particularly fond of this condiment, and in Highlands, N.C., where he grew up, homemade sweet pickles and Appalachian-style relish was as much a part of the table setting as salt and pepper.

        Two years ago, when this pickle competition escalated and Bonny and Alan grew weary of competing with one another in the kitchen,  the Shuptrines combined their recipes. "We drew on the good points of each recipe, and added a special 'twist'. When we gave some jars away as holiday gives the consistent response was OMG! That is the best  I've ever tasted. Will you please make more?

        The Shuptrine family may be highly creative, but that doesn't mean they don't have a keen business sense. "When the economy is really bad, a newness is needed. This is the perfect time to expose a new product," Bonny says of the new line of Twisted products. "Alan's national exposure in the art world combined with the successful auction of his watercolors made us decide to brand the name and produce this 'artist's product'."

         Of course the label itself is artistic; you wouldn't expect anything boring from this group of folks. But this label is almost as good as owning a valuable piece of art. Twisted Dusk, winner of the ColArt Americas Winsor and Newton Award at the Southern Watercolor Society's Juried Exhibition, was also the inspiration for the name.  Bonny jokes that the beautiful painting of the twisted tree on every jar is appropriate because everyone of her artistic family members can be a little 'twisted'.

        Although it's not quite on every supermarket shelf yet, it's simply a matter of time. Once you taste the Twisted Relish, you can't enjoy your food without it. People put it on everything from scrambled eggs and meatloaf to salads and sandwiches. Some use it for an easy party dip and others just eat it right out of the jar. The Twisted Chicken sounds incredible, as does the Twisted Cornbread which is a cross between old fashioned spoonbread and a cheese souffle.

        Available at Enzo's on Main Street and the Mountain Market, the Twisted produces are available at Ace Hardware on Broad Street as well as on the shelves of boutique grocers all over the southeast. 

        Obviously there is a ton of work involved, and the Shuptrine family has had some very busy months. The key word here is family. They may not be watching much TV together, but that doesn't mean they're not together and enjoying their family.

        "The most surprising thing was when Alan, Jake, Ben and I looked at each other asked each other "is this worth the time out of our family life?" and all of us unanimously said YES!  It seems every trip we've taken, every family moment involving cookouts or gatherings, has led right to this place. We have been inspired from tasting homemade barbecue sauce at a roadside stand in Wyoming to tasting grilled stripers in the Damariscotta River in Maine. With every family memory we have recorded, our minds have been asking “what if?”.

        It's probably a matter of time before the Shuptrines are on Guy Fierre's show, and the famous chef is tasting a little Twisted Relish and yelling, "That is off the hook! Dynamite!"

Bonny and Alan Shuptrine with new kitchen creation
Bonny and Alan Shuptrine with new kitchen creation

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