Deep in conversation at Punch Bowl Social last week, I absent-mindedly dipped a fry into ketchup and popped it in my mouth. One taste and I immediately forgot what I was talking about and turned my attention to the bottle of Elevation Organic Ketchup on the table. This was no Heinz. Usually that would be a knock, since in this country we expect the condiment to taste a certain way (for more on this, read the Ketchup Conundrum by Malcolm Gladwell). Not this time.

I dipped another fry. And then I shook more out of the bottle and ate it with my fork. This Elevation stuff, it was excellent: fresh and tomatoey, lightly sweet but still acidic—it tasted real. It tasted homemade. And that’s just it: it is. Denver realtor Aaron Wagner began selling the condiment, made from a family recipe that harkens back to 1893, four months ago. There are just six ingredients (including the elusive “organic spices”) listed on the label. There’s no high fructose syrup and the sauce is organic, vegan, and gluten-free.

Elevation (then un-named) morphed from family hobby to a start-up when Daniel Asher, chef of Linger and Root Down, got a hold of a taste. He immediately placed an order, which sent Wagner in search of a commissary. He found one in Morrison. Now, teamed with a friend, Wagner stirs together batch after batch in a 25-gallon stainless steel pot. In addition to Punch Bowl, Linger, and Root Down, the ketchup now also graces the tables of Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar. Pick up a bottle at Punch Bowl (ask for it at the hostess stand), at the Truffle Cheese Shop, Nooch Vegan Market, or Denver Urban Homesteading.

Bonus: Click here for more food-related stocking stuffer ideas.

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.