The jam lady
WHEN NEWFOUNDLAND Costco member
Sarah MacAulay set up her first table at the
St. John’s Farmers’ Market in 2010, she
intended to sell a set of handmade puppets.
But a few jars of homemade jam she
brought with her at the last minute stole
the show. “No one else was selling jam,
and they sold like hotcakes,” MacAulay
remembers. Her jams have since become
one of the market’s most popular products,
earning her a nickname that she’s also
adopted for her business: The Jam Lady
MacAulay sells more than 53 varieties of
jam, chutney, salsa and jelly throughout the
year, and all but one recipe is her own. Her
techniques are traditional, inspired by her
farm upbringing, when the family used to
pickle and preserve the year’s crop. She
MONTREAL-BASED COSTCO member Carol
Ketelson has mastered the art of reinvention.
Twice, in fact. A dental assistant by day, a passionate traveller the rest of the time, Ketelson
left the tooth biz in 1999 to organize hundreds
of large medical conferences around the world.
In 2009, she used her great planning skills to
launch Delectable Destinations (delectable
destinations.com), bringing small groups of up
to seven people on customized culinary trips
to Italy (Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast and Puglia)
and Spain. Guests stay in luxurious private
villas and are treated to world-class cooking
classes, off-the-beaten-path destinations,
private wineries and VIP service throughout.
“One of the first medical meetings I’d orga-
nized was in Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast, and I
fell in love,” recalls Ketelson. “I became friends
PHOTOS COURTESY OF DELECTABLE DESTINATIONS
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with Chiara, the reservation manager where I
was staying; her mother, Mamma Agata, runs
one of the top cooking schools in Italy, and
they suggested I start organizing culinary trips.”
Ketelson’s trips—which run from $4,500 to
$5,200—appeal to people who are celebrating
big birthdays or anniversaries, or who crave a
decadent girlfriend getaway, and she hopes to
begin offering corporate incentive trips. Clients
across Canada and the U.S. find her online, and
refer her to their friends.
“It’s not a tour; it’s an experience,” Ketelson
tells The Connection. “People aren’t going to be
shuffled around on a bus. They’re pampered.”
Ketelson returned to part-time work as
a dental assistant in 2006, and takes eight
week-long trips a year, in May and October.
As word of mouth gets out, she hopes to
expand that number of getaways.
What Ketelson loves most is giving people
the gift of being in paradise. “I’m not making
tons of money here; I’m doing this for passion
and love,” she says. “When I see their reactions,
it blows me away. In my heart, I know I have
the perfect ingredients; the recipe always
works out, and I’m giving people the trip of a
produces in small batches using simple
ingredients, less sugar and local fruit when
possible. One of The Jam Lady’s best-sellers
is Jumbleberry Jam, which features 16 berries
native to Newfoundland. MacAulay herself
forages in local parks, woodlots and even
friends’ backyards to source the fruit.
For what she can’t pick from the land,
and for inspiration, MacAulay heads to her
local Costco warehouse. “The reason why
Costco is so useful to me is because I can
get items there that I just can’t possibly get
anywhere else,” she explains, expressing
her excitement over finding persimmons
and fresh apricots on a past visit.
Despite the early Saturday morning
wake-ups to tend to her table, it’s a fair
trade for MacAulay, as the St. John’s
Farmers’ Market is where she feels most
connected to the city. Her favourite part of
running The Jam Lady is the interaction
with visitors and fellow market vendors.
Photos (top left and clockwise):
Ravello view, Tuscan sunflowers, Tuscan
cooking class, a group from A Cultural
and Culinary Tour of Italy’s Amalfi
Coast, Carol Ketelson and Amalfi Coast
cooking with Mamma Agata.
“Honestly, I love the community here,”
MacAulay says. “I’ve gotten to know very,
very good friends through the farmers’