Story by Michelle Jameson | Photos courtesy Sabor Provisions
Sometimes gourmands create pairings that just naturally belong together, like sea salt and caramel or goat cheese and honey. And sometimes, gourmands find themselves paired up, like Brenda Saravia and Shay Grant.
The two met at Lanier Charter Career Academy while Shay was teaching agricultural science and Brenda was working as her paraprofessional and translator.
“Together, we ran the Farm Market and the Farm at the Oaks at LCA, said Shay. During our lunch breaks, each of us would bring delicious food, which we would share.”
Brenda came to Gainesville from La Lima, Honduras, after her marriage to her high school sweetheart brought her to the United States.
Shay grew in Union Springs, Alabama, and moved to Gainesville 18 years ago to work for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service in Hall County as an Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent. Realizing what a naturally talented cook Brenda was , Shay would harvest herbs and vegetables for her and ask her to make something from them.
“Each day, she would come in with another delicious sauce or dish,” said Shay.
The two soon realized their combined talents should be shared with the world at large and Sabor Provisions was born.
“During our lunch breaks, we enjoyed discussing different ideas. One of the ideas was to start utilizing some of the herbs and vegetables that I was growing in my personal garden to make sauces Shay said.
“At the time, I had an abundance of basil, so Basil Pesto was our first sauce.”
Brenda then crafted some other sauces, like the Creamy Cilantro Sauce, for friends and family to taste.
“We began making and bottling it. Farmers Markets seemed to be the best venue for us to introduce our products, so we signed up for the Gainesville Square Market.”
But the duo still needed a name.
After many different ideas said Shay, they decided on Sabor Provisions. In Spanish, the word sabor means flavor or taste. They added Provisions because “we plan to add more items as our company grows.”
The company is still in its infancy, and both realize there’s a long way to go.
“A year ago, once we settled on a business name, we determined that we must establish a certified kitchen.”
Both attended the UGA Better Process Control School and began bottling their sauces to sell at the Gainesville Farmers Market as well as the Flowery Branch Farmers Market.
In addition to their four sauces — Basil Pesto, Creamy Cilantro Sauce, Chimole, and Chimichurri — “we made and sold savory empanadas, pastelitos, homemade lemonade, and hibiscus tea.”
The hibiscus tea was just recognized with a nomination for the 2017 Flavor of Georgia competition held March 21 in which it took third place in the beverage category. The tea was chosen from 117 similar products.
“Georgia is home to some of the best and most creative minds in the food business, and each year the Flavor of Georgia contest helps to showcase that talent,” said Sharon P. Kane, contest coordinator and economist with the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
On a hot May day last school year, Brenda brought a gallon of a beautifully colored drink for Shay to taste.
“She told me that it was Jamaica (pronounced hah-my-kah) Tea, which is something that they make and enjoy often in Honduras. I tasted it and couldn’t get enough”
They decided to make and sell Jamaica Tea at the Farmers Markets.
“Our customers (young and old) loved the drink, which we served in 10 ounce cups on ice with a fresh sprig of mint,” said Brenda.
They were also able to plant some Hibiscus sabdariffa plants and harvest the calyces — the part of the plant which protects the developing bud. The dried calyx is the part of the plant which is boiled and steeped to make the drink.
“We decided to name it Ruby Hibiscus Tea because Ruby is the name of Brenda’s family bakery in Honduras,” said Shay.
Brenda said perfecting the bottling process took a lot of time.
According to the duo, among some of it’s attributes Ruby Hibiscus Tea is caffeine-free, loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C, helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and can even speed up metabolism.
‘It’s similar to pomegranate in its health benefits,” Shay said. We only use 3 ingredients to make our tea, with no added preservatives.”
So who does what in the partnership?
“Brenda manages our kitchen, ensuring that each batch is of the highest quality. She is also responsible for recipe development and packaging,” said Shay.
Brenda said Shay is responsible for growing the ingredients “which we use in our products as well as PR. There are many other responsibilities involved in running our business, which we share.”
So far, the most popular products are the Creamy Cilantro Sauce and Ruby Hibiscus Tea.
Coming up with ideas for more products requires much brainstorming, dreaming and “testing a lot of our ideas and creations on friends and family.”
Shay said they plan to spend the next year sustainably growing the ingredients for Ruby Hibiscus Tea as well as the four sauces they currently make.
“We have made a Passion Fruit Drink, which our Farmers Market customers loved, so, right now, we are growing some Passion Fruit plants in Alabama, which we hope to harvest fruit from in the fall and begin perfecting a second beverage,” said Shay.
There are several events coming up where Sabor Provisions will be found.
Folks can find Sabor regularly at the Downtown Gainesville Farmers Market, Flowery Branch Market, Heritage Park Market in Auburn, Alabama, Market Days in Columbus, as well as the following events:
• Standard Deluxe 17th annual “old 280” Boogie, April 22 in Waverly, Alabama
• MADE SOUTH Atlanta festival September 29-30
• Southern Makers (Date and location TBD)
• Northeast Georgia Health System Market Place November 3-5 in Gainesville
Sabor Provision products may be purchased at Green’s Grocery in Gainesville as well as George’s Farmers Market in LaFayette, Alabama. Sabor Provisions plans to launch an online store as well as a recipe and gardening blog, soon. Visit www.saborprovisions.com and find them on Facebook.