Adding peppers with relish wins heated competition

Lee Mathis, owner of Decadence Gourmet, shows of his take on chowchow, a Southern relish he heats with peppers. The relish won two awards in a magazine competition. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Lee Mathis, owner of Decadence Gourmet, shows of his take on chowchow, a Southern relish he heats with peppers. The relish won two awards in a magazine competition. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

A Grand Valley business best known for its decadent cheesecakes has earned national recognition for its spicy Southern relish.

Decadence Gourmet won two awards in an annual program conducted by Chili Pepper Magazine. The company’s Colorado-style Southern chowchow placed first in the category for hot relishes and second for specialty condiments.

Lee Mathis, owner of Decadence Gourmet, created his version of chowchow in starting with the traditional pickled relish featuring cabbage, green tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and spices. But Mathis then added five different kinds of peppers, including habanero, jalapeno and serrano peppers as well as ghost peppers and Trinidad scorpion peppers. “We feel that by combining our love of heat with a sweet and savory Southern staple, we’ve created the perfect combination of sweet and heat.”

While chowchow traditionally serves as a topping on beans, Mathis said the relish can be used to add flavor to a variety of foods.

Chowchow constitutes the latest evolution for Decadence Gourmet, which Mathis started in 2004 to sell cheesecakes. He subsequently developed a product called cheesecakes in a jar that offer the flavor of full-sized cheesecakes in a individual serving-sized containers.

Decadence Gourmet sells its chowchow in 3.5-ounce jars. For more information,  call 256-4688 or visit www.decadencecheesecake.com.