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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Sep. 24, 2013 5 years ago

Kitchen queens: Caterers whip up own line of natural simple syrups

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Heidi Webb and Barbara Hernandez, otherwise known as the Gourmet Girls caters, have made a line of simple syrups for sale in Ormond Beach and beyond.

BY WAYNE GRANT | STAFF WRITER

It started with an “ah-ha” moment in the kitchen, and it ended with two local caterers making their own line of flavor-infused simple syrups for sale.

Heidi Webb, local attorney and property manager, runs a catering business called Gourmet Girls in her spare time with friend Barbara Hernandez, an office manager. One day when making an appetizer, she was soaking cranberries in water.

“Left over was some delicious-looking, cranberry-flavored sugar water,” she said. “I thought, I could make a cranberry-flavored drink with that.”

That was the beginning of their new enterprise, Not So Simple Syrup, which she launched just weeks ago with her catering partner.

The women mix the ingredients and bottle it themselves. They currently have five different flavors: lemon, strawberry, mint, orange and blackberry. Webb said the syrups can be used in iced tea or seltzer water, as well as mixed drinks or champagne.

“We went to a bottler at first but they kept trying to get us to use extract,” Webb said. “They didn’t want to bother with fruit. We decided to do it ourselves.”

The women travel to Winter Park every Saturday, where they rented commercial kitchen space to bottle the product. Webb said she has the process streamlined now and may be able to turn it over to a bottler.

The fact that they only use fresh fruit, they hope, will set them apart from the competition.

“It’s an all-natural, infused, simple syrup,” she said, adding that a lot of research was done to come up with a product that would be shelf stable without chemicals.

And now, sales are taking off, they say, thanks to Webb’s social media chops.

“I’m a blogger,” she said. She also reaches out to drink enthusiasts through Facebook, Twitter and her website, and has already shipped orders to Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.

She said the bottles are “gifty”-type items, which they plan to market mostly to specialty shops.

Webb and her partner’s catering business started about 15 months ago. They had always enjoyed cooking and throwing parties, and one day a friend asked them to prepare food for her party. That led to catering private occasions, which led to business functions.

Through word of mouth and social media, Hernandez says the business has grown to keep them busy on weekends and many evenings. And she expects even more business around the holidays.

But for Webb, her new business is a natural extension of her experience.

“I was a bartender before, during and even after law school,” she said. “I’ve always had parties and used simple syrups.”

“We always enjoyed having parties, now we host a party at someone else’s home,” Hernandez added.

Not So Simple Syrup is licensed with the State and registered with the FDA.

Search for Not So Simple Syrup on Facebook, or visit notsosimplesyrup.net.

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