What could be finer than enjoying a fresh bottle or can of Wild Tonic jun kombucha? A great story with Chef Pete Ghione, of course!
Every flavor in our roster has a story, but Strawberry Blood Orange may just take the cake. This sweet-tart and completely refreshing flavor is the result of a collaboration between Wild Tonic and Chef Pete Ghione, a Wellness Chef, Food Artist, Public Speaker — and Chef & Director of Food and Beverage at Canyon Ranch Spa + Fitness Las Vegas.
Want to discover the story? We recently caught up with Ghione to talk about his wild and wonderful life as a Chef. Learn why he prefers jun kombucha to traditional kombucha, how he helped dream up Strawberry Blood Orange, and what keeps him inspired on a daily basis!
How did you come to love Wild Tonic?
I have to say that before trying Wild Tonic Jun Kombucha, I wasn’t a fan of the flavor of kombucha…
I just didn’t enjoy drinking other brands. They were too harsh, too similar to apple cider vinegar. Over time, I’ve been approached by many suppliers with different products, so I always look for the “why are you different?” factor.
Having worked with ingredients that improve health for so long, I knew the benefits that it offers and the prebiotics from the honey in Wild Tonic are just so important to helping our body to absorb all of the other good ingredients I use.
I was handed a few of the cobalt blue glass bottles which were eye-catching all on their own, but I always flip right to the ingredients on just about anything with a label.
When I read the ingredients list on Wild Tonic Tropical Turmeric Jun Kombucha, I saw black pepper on the list. I’d found my reason why this brand was different.
Since I started cooking for people with cancer and other diseases about 12 years ago, I’ve emphasized to people that as great a superfood as turmeric is, our body doesn’t like to absorb it. Combining it with black pepper makes it 2,000 times more absorbable — such a simple solution, but it’s still uncommon knowledge.
Of course, next I had to taste it … and honestly, the measure in my head was “I hope it’s not AS BAD as the others.” I was shocked that it was actually GOOD and so much smoother than other products I’ve tried … So it passed my inspection, and it’s been on my beverage lists ever since.
What inspired you to create the flavor Strawberry Blood Orange?
In 2018, Canyon Ranch Spa + Fitness at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas added a new brand extension — CR CREAT. I was given a blank canvas to develop a healthy grab and go restaurant and espresso bar.
At that point, I had been serving Wild Tonic Jun Kombucha for over a year in the other restaurants. Holly [Lyman, Wild Tonic’s creator] and I were on a creative kick to offer something unique to our guests.
Blood oranges are one of my favorite fruits — I discovered them when I was on my culinary school first year internship in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine.
At that time, blood oranges were on the top of my mind — they were in peak season and flooding all of the markets. I was also growing strawberries in my backyard at home that my daughter and I would pick that literally just melted in your mouth, fresh off the plant.
I often make cooking decisions based on whatever is influencing the mood of the moment. In this case, both ingredients were so good it was like a rule that I had to put them together.
The Wild Tonic fermentation process with the flavorful honey just blended the whole experience seamlessly.
With the Wild Tonic packaging, artwork and branding, what originally started as a conversation and idea quickly became a world-class collaboration.
Do you find that Wild Tonic Jun Kombucha pairs well with food?
Absolutely. Wild Tonic Jun Kombucha can pair with food in place of wine. It pairs so well, in fact, that I even created a 4-course dinner for the International Spa Association Humanitarian of the Year presentation!
Plus, the non-alcoholic version can appeal to a wider and younger audience as well.
What is your favorite jun kombucha / food pairing?
Vegan Chocolate Cake — Chocolate Avocado Mousse, Organic Strawberries — paired with Canyon Ranch’s exclusive flavor of Wild Tonic’s Strawberry, Blood Orange & Basil Kombucha.
Any simple recipes you’d like to share for pairing?
- ½ cup diced organic strawberries
- ½ cup diced heirloom tomatoes or vine-ripened tomatoes
- 1 large basil leaf, torn small by hand
- 1 small fresh mint leaf — smack it in the palm of your hands first, you’ll smell the fresh oil and then tear it small
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 pinch cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dark balsamic vinegar
Enjoy this with Strawberry Blood Orange Wild Tonic Jun Kombucha!
How are you involved with Flavors for Life and what is the mission?
I’ve been the chairman of the Board for Flavors for Life since we launched just over two years ago.
Not only do we host a cooking competition for high school students, but I get to get in and interact with the students each year and be able to make a long-term impact on their health.
What additional initiatives are you focusing on this year?
I’ve spent a lot of time helping people use food to improve their health.
This year, I’m also using food to fundraise for blood cancer research by supporting the Light the Night Virtual Walk on November 7th, hosted by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Foundation of Southern Nevada. Since this year is a virtual experience, anyone can join me on my team, called #cookingforacure, from anywhere in the world.
I’m also offering prepped meals each week in October. For every meal purchased, I will produce a second meal and donate it to someone who is currently battling cancer. All proceeds will go toward my fundraising goal for Light the Night.
Here is a link for more on my website so people can join my mailing list to order prepped meals or join team #cookingforacure or make a direct cash donation.
Connect With Pete!
Did you love hearing the story behind Wild Tonic’s Strawberry Blood Orange flavor? What part of Chef Pete Ghione’s work inspired you most?