When we started to cook ketchup four years ago we would not dare to dream to ever be featured in the Monocle magazine. But as it happens, we made it into the February issue as the “Saucy Entrepreneurs“. This is what the Monocle has to say about us:
What do you put on gourmet hamburgers? For Curtice Brothers, a Vienna-based brand of organic ketchup, the ubiquity of factory-made options is an insult to high-quality meat. “It’s not just about health: we wanted to eat the best ketchup in the world,” says Mario C Bauer, one of the founders of the brand, which adopted the name of a defunct 19th-century ketchup-maker. “We’re six guys, all between 90kg and 110kg – we like to eat.” But due to the ingredients, the ketchup is considerably healthier than factory-made alternatives.
The team’s recipe contains around 50 per cent less sugar and salt than its industrial counterparts. The ketchup owes its distinct flavour to tomatoes (77 per cent compared to Heinz’s 17 per cent), balsamic vinegar, apple, onion, star anise, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, mustard seeds and white pepper.
All of the ingredients are grown organically and then stewed together in Tuscany. The brand’s partners started by cooking up experiments in a home kitchen. Today they have a large order for ketchup with a French retail chain and supply more than 150 hotels and restaurants.
“We talk to food fanatics, so they’re interested, but it’s a delicate product that needs a lot of storytelling,” says Bauer. The company is now flush with new investment and clients are clamouring for more: next out of the Curtice Brothers’ Tuscan kitchen is mayonnaise (with free-range eggs) then a chilli sauce. Ketchup, it seems, is just for starters.
Units: 1 million made per year
Bestselling product: Ketchup
Main ingredients in bestselling product: Tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, onion
What Bauer relishes most about his work: “We decided to only partner with people we would enjoy going on holiday with so the work feels like a fun journey all the time.”