Meet Dan Franklin, founder of Danny Gnardello Giardiniera, an artisanal giardiniera and pickled products brand based in Boulder, Colorado. By day, Dan works as a sous chef, but his love for food extends beyond a restaurant kitchen.
What did you do before starting Danny Gnardello?
Dan is a 14-year hospitality industry veteran with a focus in Culinary, Pastry, and Restaurant Management. He spent seven years as Sous Chef at OAK at Fourteenth Restaurant in Boulder, Colorado and is currently a Sous Chef with Sunday Vinyl at Union Station in Denver.
What is the Danny Gnardello origin story?
His giardiniera business was born, unsurprisingly, as a result of Dan’s passion for food and learning.
“Danny Gnardello Giardiniera came about through studying and experimentation in the preserving arts. I started with my basic interests — pickling with local ingredients, taking an artisanal and refined approach to my recipes,” Dan said.
Soon, his pickling passion project grew. “It really expanded as I made connections with local farms. I found particular products and recipes that I thought customers would truly enjoy and that would sell well,” Dan said.
Today, he sells his fresh, local pickled peppers as Danny Gnardello Giardiniera.
His business name pays homage to pickled Jimmy Nardello peppers, a favorite in the Denver area amongst restaurant and kitchen aficionados. “Danny Gnardello is a play on words combining Jimmy Nardello, my name, and the word gnarly which is a common reference to extreme sporting in Colorado, like ‘shred the gnar.’”
How would you describe your product in one sentence?
“Danny Gnardello Giardiniera and pickled Jimmy Nardello peppers are boldly flavored and craveable.”
He enjoys working with Jimmy Nardello peppers because of their flexibility — Dan pairs them with the most basic culinary creations, but also encourages seasoned chefs to use them experimentally to make something more unique.
What's your favorite way to enjoy your giardiniera?
“Spicy giardiniera is the perfect compliment to top on a variety of sandwiches,” Dan said.
His favorite way to enjoy it, though, is on top of a great pizza.
Who is another cottage cook that you follow and support, and why?
When he’s not pickling or working as a sous chef, Dan makes an effort to support local producers and farmers. “My favorite cottage food producer locally is a new company called Venus Spice Co., out of Boulder, created by my friend Noga Heyman,” Dan said.
“Venus Spice Co.'s flagship product is a unique middle eastern condiment called zhoug which reminds me of a spicy salsa verde with unique flavorings that spritz up any meal,” he said. “Noga has expanded upon her culinary repertoire and specializes in creating and sharing fun recipes using her products.”
What's the best thing about this job?
“Hearing feedback from customers is the most satisfying and motivating aspect of small production like ours.”
In addition to delighting customers, Dan values the personal freedom and creativity that comes with running his own business.
“It’s been rewarding to make connections with individuals who share the same passion for locally produced products involving ingredients from within the community.”
What's your best piece of advice to share with food entrepreneurs who are getting started?
When it comes to getting started, Dan shares three pieces of advice.
“First, do the market research,” he said. “Explore and exploit any and all connections you can to further your presence. Be persistent and don't let setbacks prohibit you from trying to fulfill your dreams.”