Country Ketchup (called “relish” in Ireland) is served in gastro pubs and restaurants all over Ireland, but it’s a delicious discovery to many Americans. “Nowadays, people want more complex flavors in their foods. Judge Casey’s Irish Country Ketchup is unique, on the tangy end of the flavor spectrum,” says co-founder Stephen Bray. “And its wide versatility adds to its appeal.”
Peadar Casey (from Cork) and Stephen Bray (from Dublin) met in college twenty years ago and have been best friends ever since. Their first adventures together involved traveling extensively in many parts of the world.
In 2000 they visited the United States, then they were off to South Africa, Australia, and Thailand. They began their longest motorcycle trip in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and drove to Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego. But they were only getting started – they drove from the southern tip of South America to the northern tip of Alaska.
Along the way the two friends made a country ketchup recipe that had been handed down in Peadar’s family from his grandmother. “We put it on everything. It just so happened that various forms of barbecue are favorites in many of the places we visited, and our ketchup was very popular with the people we met. In Argentina, our new friends made chimichurri sauce for us, and we made Judge Casey’s Irish Country Ketchup for them!”
Reaching the end of the road and the end of their money, the two friends had to go to work. Peadar returned to San Francisco, and Stephen went back to Dublin.
“We talked on the phone a lot,” Stephen recalls. “Peadar said that Americans didn’t have a condiment like ours, so he was still making it, and everyone who tried it loved it. He was thinking about producing Irish Country Ketchup commercially and began all the necessary research to become a food entrepreneur.”
The name of their Irish Country Ketchup is a tribute to Peadar’s great grand uncle. Judge Casey is part of family lore and a hero to the kids growing up.
Jeremiah Patrick Casey came to Port Costa, California in 1873. The town was a bustling hub of commerce connected by a railroad ferry to the trans-continental railroad and was the busiest wheat-shipping port in the country.
Casey had nothing, but by working as a shoe-shine and a farm hand, he managed to save enough money to start his own saloon, eventually owning a hotel and brewery. A well-known businessman, philanthropist, and self-taught student of law, he became a respected Judge.
“His achievements and success as an Irish immigrant inspire us,” relates Stephen, “so we named our Irish Country Ketchup after him. Both he and our recipe are part of Peadar’s family history.”
“It’s so gratifying to demo it, because people instantly engage, they recognize the quality, and they appreciate its versatility.”
“We’re bringing a little taste of Ireland to America, with a tip of the hat to our heritage.”