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It's never bad time for a jam session. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

It's never bad time for a jam session. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

Former India Joze pastry chef and California Culinary Academy graduate Tabitha Stroup of Friend in Cheeses Jam Co. took a minute to talk about how a childhood favorite became cool again.  

How did your business interests grow from cheese to artisanal creations such as designer jams?

Tabitha Stroup: I’ve been private cheffing, educating, everything local, with a concentration on the food and wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and have brokered and worked with over 25 local wines. Which brought me to the conclusion that there was a huge void in the world of pairing food and wine. I work with local farmers to create unique seasonal, simple, local jams, jelly, marmalades and chow chow. Jars of possibilities that go beyond a piece of toast. Artisan? I guess by definition, like the ’90s had “gourmet”—but there is nothing designer about my approach. I create recipes thinking of the consumers of California how they eat and help simplify their eating lifestyle without compromise.

Do you think that Santa Cruz is a good market for esoteric condiments?

Santa Cruz…esoteric…hmm. I’d say yes. I’m in every local store and the huge support of people I’ve fed and educated for the past 20 years has created my success on the local arena. It’s allowed me to get a serious foothold in the food universe of the West Coast, all pretty much by word of mouth. I think we as a food community are really stepping up, and the community has been waiting with fork and knife. I love my town.

Why do people love jam?

Everyone has a jam food memory. That aunt that made the plum jelly, or the neighbor with the brandied cherries. It is a part of Americana, and we almost lost it until food became cool again. There is good out there, and there is not so good, but the best part is folks are becoming aware of where, who and how their food got to them.

What is your favorite product?  

Come on, you are asking a mommy who her favorite child is. Depends. Time, mood, what’s it being eaten with—from items on a cheese board to glazing a roast, to on your fingers with a glass of Cava.  They all are my favorites, and every seasonal turn a new jar joins the ranks. Our current offerings include lavender plum jelly with Fogline Farm plums, carrot marmalade with cardamom, fig and fennel jam with Condria white figs, and Route One golden raspberry with Jacobs farm sage.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/restaurants/articles/2012/11/27/qa_tabitha_stroup Patrick Fontes

    Tabitha is an amazing wizard of culinary ambrosias, everything she creates tastes as though it was stolen from Olympus. Over the top? Taste her delights for yourself.
    She’s also a wonderful woman.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/articles/qa_tabitha_stroup.html Patrick Fontes

    Tabitha is an amazing wizard of culinary ambrosias, everything she creates tastes as though it was stolen from Olympus. Over the top? Taste her delights for yourself.
    She’s also a wonderful woman.

  • http://www.santacruz.com/restaurants/articles/2012/11/27/qa_tabitha_stroup Jennifer Santillana

    and i just saw her company is on Kickstarter!!  i love her stuff and am going to invest.  congratulations to another local making it….
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1236868953/new-pots-and-a-spot-to-get-this-jam-session-rollin

  • http://www.santacruz.com/articles/qa_tabitha_stroup.html Jennifer Santillana

    and i just saw her company is on Kickstarter!!  i love her stuff and am going to invest.  congratulations to another local making it….
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1236868953/new-pots-and-a-spot-to-get-this-jam-session-rollin

  • http://www.santacruz.com/restaurants/articles/2012/11/27/qa_tabitha_stroup Mary Lindsay

    Love love love Tabitha’s jam creations! I’ve served them as condiments with cheeses as part of wine pairings, slathered on toast for breakfast, with turkey for Thanksgiving. These aren’t your ordinary jams. The flavors are inventive, and everyone who tries them loves them!

  • http://www.santacruz.com/articles/qa_tabitha_stroup.html Mary Lindsay

    Love love love Tabitha’s jam creations! I’ve served them as condiments with cheeses as part of wine pairings, slathered on toast for breakfast, with turkey for Thanksgiving. These aren’t your ordinary jams. The flavors are inventive, and everyone who tries them loves them!

  • http://www.santacruz.com/restaurants/articles/2012/11/27/qa_tabitha_stroup Annie Fite

    My favorite jams and my favorite girl!  I love that this product is available in all corners of Santa Cruz and beyond!  What’s awesome is that Tabitha appears locally at wine or foodie events and you can hear about her craft first hand and sample new and favorite jams.  I am also a supporter of her kickstarter…let’s see this local wonder live her dream and continue to bless us with the simple pleasures…Check out her website: http://www.friendincheeses.com/

  • http://www.santacruz.com/articles/qa_tabitha_stroup.html Annie Fite

    My favorite jams and my favorite girl!  I love that this product is available in all corners of Santa Cruz and beyond!  What’s awesome is that Tabitha appears locally at wine or foodie events and you can hear about her craft first hand and sample new and favorite jams.  I am also a supporter of her kickstarter…let’s see this local wonder live her dream and continue to bless us with the simple pleasures…Check out her website: http://www.friendincheeses.com/

  • http://www.santacruz.com/restaurants/articles/2012/11/27/qa_tabitha_stroup Kari Davisson

    Tabitha is a food goddess and her Friend in Cheese Jam company is a dream come true.  No really.  To her and her customers!!  It’s childhood jam and other delights, but stepped up a notch and oh so delectible.  I’d have never thought to put sage and berry togeher, or fig and fennel…but Tabitha?  It’s natural for her.  It shows in the product.  I’m drooooooling thinking of that Golden Sage Berry jam. 

  • http://www.santacruz.com/articles/qa_tabitha_stroup.html Kari Davisson

    Tabitha is a food goddess and her Friend in Cheese Jam company is a dream come true.  No really.  To her and her customers!!  It’s childhood jam and other delights, but stepped up a notch and oh so delectible.  I’d have never thought to put sage and berry togeher, or fig and fennel…but Tabitha?  It’s natural for her.  It shows in the product.  I’m drooooooling thinking of that Golden Sage Berry jam. 

  • http://www.santacruz.com/restaurants/articles/2012/11/27/qa_tabitha_stroup Linda Stapp

    I don’t know Tabitha, but I bought her jelly at the Goat Hill antique fair and oh, my! They are great! My personal favorite is CHOW CHOW and I have ordered some to be shipped to me in Ventura! I wish I could buy it locally! Love, love, love her jams!

  • http://www.santacruz.com/articles/qa_tabitha_stroup.html Linda Stapp

    I don’t know Tabitha, but I bought her jelly at the Goat Hill antique fair and oh, my! They are great! My personal favorite is CHOW CHOW and I have ordered some to be shipped to me in Ventura! I wish I could buy it locally! Love, love, love her jams!