TASTE TEST: We Try Heinz's Fancy New Balsamic Ketchup

spike mendlesohn balsamic vinegar heinz ketchup

Photo: Meredith Galante/Business Insider

We were invited to lunch at The Kitchen in New York City by Heinz Ketchup for its launch of its new flavour: Balsamic Vinegar, which is available exclusively through the company’s Facebook page.Chef Spike Mendelsohn, a former contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef and past winner of Heinz’s Best Dressed Burger Award, was there cooking up concoctions with the new flavour that blew our mind. Never mind the classic combo of fries and ketchup, Mendelsohn decided to use ketchup in every course of the meal from appetizers to dessert.

We caught up with Mendelsohn to talk about his ketchup creations, his D.C. restaurant Good Stuff Eatery, his favourite New York City restaurants, and more.

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Business Insider: How’d you pair up with Heinz?

Spike Mendelsohn: I was an avid user of Heniz and a former winner of their competition. … People want to find new ways to use it. That’s where I come in. I’m an everyday guy, and 92 per cent of people have it in their homes. So the relationship just made sense to me. I took a lot of liberty coming up with the meals today. … Even just now in the kitchen, I realised I should have made something with Carmel out of it. So you play around, it’s fun. Sometimes you try things, it doesn’t taste good. But you keep trying.

BI: Where’d you get the inspiration for the recipes?

SM: I took every day uses of tomato products or classic pairings, such as the thousand island dressings and try to improve on them and make them more creative. I also looked at the product as a base. It had a lot of tang in it. When using sauces you’re always trying to find ways to marinate things. … OK so let’s make some sauces, 1000s islands, with the crab cakes. I easily could have made a bruschetta with it. …

BI: So during lunch you were talking about why you love DC, it being your home town. But what are your favourite restaurants in New York?

SM: I love Prune, it’s one of my favourite restaurants. I love going to Pastis. I go to China Town a lot, Mulberry Street for Vietnamese food. I love going to Blue Ribbon. … Those are definitely my tops.

BI: So how do you feel about food trucks?

SM: I think food trucks are great. I just don’t know the longevity of the fad. It’s a tough business to be in. With anything, when you see success with any type of new fad or trend, all type of restrictions start to pop up. … Opening a lunch truck now is a lot harder than it was two years ago. And it’s also a seasonal thing, unless you’re living in LA.

BI: And your new show, Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs, on the Food Network. What’s the status on that? What was that like?

SM: It’s filmed, it airs Oct. 30 at 9 p.m. … It was a honour because it’s a super-star season, as the way they are advertising it, and it really is. It’s all the people that you recognise from the Food Network. Robert Irvine, Anne Burrell, Marcus Samuelsson, Jeff Cerciello, Alex Guarnaschelli . You know all the big-big stars. Geoffrey Zakarian. So me as a young guy, offered a spot to go on the show, felt very honored to do and took the opportunity. (Editor’s note: Mendelsohn is 30)

BI: So what that intimidating? Or considering you serve Barack Obama, just another day at work?

SM: Yea, well I’ve done three other competition shows. The only factor was they are all on Food Network and that people recognise and this is their territory. They do TV every day, that was the only part that was a little intimidating. 

BI: And how’s Good Stuff Eatery going?

SM: Good Stuff Eatery could not be going better. We’re ready to launch an expansion plan. We’re launching two more Good Stuff. One in Georgetown and one in Crystal Springs. And hopefully we’ll be across the country one day soon.

Classic Heinz 57 is old school. We were there to test Heinz' new school ketchup, made with balsamic vinegar.

Former 'Top Chef' contestant Spike Mendelsohn was charged with giving the condiment an upscale twist.

Here's what the balsamic vinegar ketchup bottle looks like. It's a limited edition and only available on Heinz's Facebook page.

First up was seared tuna with the balsamic vinegar ketchup. The ketchup was surprisingly spicy.

Up next: a classic. We dunked sweet potato fries in the newly designed packet.

Spike made a 1,000 island dressing with the balsamic ketchup to pour over crabcakes.

He also marinated lamb chops in the balsamic ketchup. It worked pretty well.

These eggplant chips with salsa (which, of course, had the special ketchup as its main ingredient) was our favourite dish throughout lunch.

But the kale chips were a close second. We dunked those in ketchup, too.

The main course was a turkey burger. Normally, turkey meat gets dry, so Spike added a little balsamic ketchup to fix that.

Here, Spike dices some apples up for dessert. He told us there would be balsamic vinegar ketchup in that too...

We were pretty sceptical, but after trying it were sold. Spike mixed the ketchup with Cool Whip to top his apple pie. It added an interesting tangy flavour to the dish.

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