The story of Garlic Gold® began in an 8th grade economics class when three of my friends met with me and my father Rinaldo Brutoco, a serial entrepreneur, to learn what it took to build a business from scratch. My friends and I decided that we wanted to bring a new product to life and sell it to real customers just to prove we could do it. First, we knew we needed to learn how to make it, price it, brainstorm about possible names, and learn about associated costs with running a business. My father, Rinaldo agreed to meet with us once a week after school to guide us through the process. The rest, as we say, “is history.”
My father and I are classic, authentic Italians, especially when it comes to food. Together we created in our home kitchen, a toasted garlic and olive oil condiment which can be spooned on to any dish to recreate the taste of Italy in every bite. Over time we continued to perfect the blending and toasting process, which eventually became our secret family recipe. It became clear that that secret family recipe was the perfect product to use for my 8th grade economics class. During the class, a brain storming session was held to name the product. My friends and I noticed the flecks of organic golden garlic nuggets floating in the organic extra virgin olive oil and it reminded us of mining for gold. Then someone blurted out “Garlic Gold!” We knew at that moment we had a winning name.
My dad and I started selling the product at the farmers market in Ojai, CA with one of my closest friends by giving away free samples and hearing how everyone loved that it was “Crunchy!” Garlic Gold quickly became a local favorite.
Since, we were making the entire product out of our home kitchen, the supply was limited. Everything was done by hand, from chopping the garlic to bottling and labeling the product. Garlic Gold quickly became a success overnight. Before long the sales were going so well that we needed a larger kitchen.
There was a local restaurant in town that was going out of business. To cover the costs of rent my father opened our first family restaurant, ShangriLa Gourmet, “A Natural Foods Cafe.” We always wanted to produce our hand-crafted product to the highest possible standards from the finest organic ingredients and so we worked to become the first certified organic kitchen in Ventura County, CA.
In our restaurant we treated everyone like family, because we’re Italian and it’s in our blood. It made our restaurant an instant favorite in the town of Ojai and it remained that way until the day we had to move to our larger manufacturing facility in Ventura.
About this time Emeril Lagasse discovered our product when his sister had some in her pantry. He said he had to get some of his own! He special ordered it at his local Whole Foods market and from then on agreed to endorse us for free because he loved it so much. Wow! We were blown away! Then we got our first large distribution account with Gelson’s Markets.
It’s been more than 8 years since we closed the doors at ShangriLa Gourmet and moved to our larger facility in Ventura, CA. We’ve never cut corners in regards to labor or product costs to chop, toast, and bottle Garlic Gold. Each bottle is handcrafted to this day in our specially designed, organic kitchen facility. We believe in hiring people and creating jobs, nothing is mechanized in our process. I feel confident feeding Garlic Gold to my niece and nephew because it is certified and labeled Organic, GMO Free, and a child can pronounce every ingredient we use. They know what it is and they know what they are eating. Plus, it tastes darn good.