A new brand of giardiniera, Kelsey D's, has made its way to local store shelves, courtesy of Arizona State University alumna Kelsey Digman, who has turned her family recipe into a thriving business.
Digman had grown up eating giardiniera, an Italian specialty condiment made of chopped garden-grown vegetables marinated in oil and spices that is popular in her hometown of Chicago.
After relocating to Tempe to attend ASU, Digman had her mother ship her jars of giardiniera, since it wasn't as readily available here. In September 2011, the idea to start a giardiniera business sparked for Digman, since she wanted to find a way to share it with people who hadn't previously tried it.
Digman, who comes from a family of business owners, ran the idea past her mother and others who helped with the start-up process.
From there, Digman partnered with a Chicago-based manufacturer known for making giardiniera since 1898.
"I told them what I wanted and they would come up with a sample," Digman says. "We would all try it and everyone would give their opinions on it."
Kelsey D's giardiniera comes in two flavors, mild and hot. Each jar sells for $6.99 and contains chopped carrots, celery, cauliflower, gherkins, red and green peppers, all marinated in spices and soybean oil. The hot flavor includes serrano peppers.
Digman started out selling her giardiniera at local farmers markets and has since expanded to stock Kelsey D's at more than 20 restaurants and markets in the Valley area, including AJ's Fine Foods and RigaTony's in Tempe. Additionally, Kelsey D's is sold in Illinois, Nevada, California, Wisconsin, and Texas.
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Although Digman consults with her family, who help with the business in Illinois, Digman says she runs the business by herself in Arizona, doing everything from selling the giardiniera at local farmers markets to contacting restaurants and stores.
Digman hopes to add relish and a hotter version of giardiniera at some point to Kelsey D's.
You can catch Digman on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon at the Central Farmers' Market on the southeast corner of Northern and Central Avenues, or twice a month at St. Joseph's Hospital Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m; or you can find out more information from her website, Kelsey D's, where she features recipes and a list of restaurants that carry her giardiniera.