After years spent perfecting his pickling, meat-curing and jam-making skills, Chef Jonathan Mayfield thought banging out a little flavored tonic water would be no sweat. He hardly even used the stuff himself, and only made it in the first place for his wife, Ami. “She’s a cocktail person; I like bourbon and ice,” he says.
But, lo and behold, the tonic water he considered just an afterthought became their top seller when he and Ami started their company Breedlove’s Tabletop Essentials earlier this year (Breedlove is Ami’s maiden name). Now, customers at their Barton Creek Farmers Market booth can’t seem to get enough of their tonic water made from local ingredients. All of Breedlove’s handmade jams, jellies, pickles and more are sourced from Texas’ abundance—especially from the Hill Country. “It really comes through in a jam,” says Jonathan, “to take a Fredericksburg peach that can’t get any more ripe and trap it in time.”
Obsessing over jam and tonic water isn’t what either Mayfield had in mind when they met at the Driskill Hotel kitchen and promptly crossed an ocean together to train in London restaurants. Though they learned a lot overseas, they realized the intense Michelin-star-restaurant track wasn’t for them. The couple returned home to Austin and soon started a family—prompting Jonathan to take jobs running the kitchens at Jo’s Downtown and later at a conference center, where he started experimenting with pickling and jarring. Tired of the grind, he left the restaurant biz in January, 2016, to start Breedlove’s with Ami. As of August, the Mayfields had only appeared at the farmers market nine times but had already attracted investors for the next phase of their business: a permanent location in Fredericksburg.
Inspired by the farmhouse vibe of Jester King Brewery, Breedlove’s will function like a country store—selling jams, jellies, confitures, marmalades, pickles, probiotic fermented vegetables, homemade cheeses, charcuterie, cured meats and, of course, their now-famous tonic water. What ingredients they aren’t able to grow themselves they’ll continue to get through the local farm partners they work with in a co-op.
With a launch planned for late 2017, the Mayfields intend to ramp up their operations in coming months with more farmers market appearances around town. That suits Jonathan just fine. “I was knee-deep with food all over me, running around like a mad person,” he says. “Now I get to sit in my own booth and talk to people.”
For more information, visit breedlovestexas.com or call 512-968-2303.
By Steve Wilson