Sometimes life opens up an opportunity for you. That’s what happened to the Sentes, owners of Fortune Bridge Brinery*. When they moved from BC to Fortune (PEI) two years ago, Jerry and Marguerite Sentes originally came to retire.

But Jerry did what he always does: cook up a storm. Making his own bacon, pastrami, bratwurst, jams, and preserves has long been his passion. Not to mention the baking (I might have been bribed with a wild blueberry muffin coming freshly out of his oven). “And then the pickles came along,” Jerry said. Using his own recipe, he handed them out to his new neighbours and friends first. “Everyone said how good they were, and that I should sell them.”

It took their daughter Cassandra following her parents to the East Coast to truly start the family business. “I am my father’s daughter,” Cassandra said. “Cooking is extremely nostalgic for me.”

When she packed up all her stuff to come to PEI in April 2018 she told her father that she wanted to start a business. “I love talking to people, communicating with them.” With a background in sales and customer service, Cassandra is the voice of the business. Working in the Bluefin restaurant’s kitchen in Souris during the summer of 2018 gave her some necessary culinary insight. She also participated in Food Island Partnership’s most recent Food Xcel workshop.

Their products hit the stores in late 2018. To date, about 3000 jars of Fortune Bridge Brinery pickles have left the Sentes’ licensed home kitchen. They can be found at the Souris Co-op, MR Seafood, Riverview Country Market, and online via Taste PEI by the Preserve Company.

l-r Marguerite, Cassandra, and Jerry Sentes in front of the custom countertop Jerry made from an old bowling alley lane  Photo credit: Jessica L. Fritz

Their pickles are free of chemical preservatives and colours, unlike the common brands we find in grocery stores. Apple cider vinegar and Jerry’s very own spice mix makes them stand out from your regular mustard or bread-n-butter pickles. ‘Ingredients you can see’ is their slogan, and having worked with BioFoodTech on salt and pH levels, as well as nutritional labels, set the family up to do things right in PEI’s marketplace.

“I am a firm believer in what we are doing,” Jerry said. And they are doing it together. This family business is a team effort. Jerry cuts all the veggies by hand, and prepares the brine; his wife Marguerite and daughter Cassandra fill the jars, and add the spices.

Fun fact: not only are the pickles hand-crafted, but so is the Sentes’ kitchen. Jerry built it himself, and added his special and unique ingredient, taking Lane #1 of an Indiana bowling alley, sanding it down, and sealing it to serve as a gorgeous kitchen counter.

Fresh local cucumbers are used for their pickles Photo credit: Jessica L. Fritz

The Sentes’ creativity doesn’t stop at the classic pickled cucumber but currently includes pickled red onions, and spicy beans (great in a Caesar I hear). The vision for their business: stocking many more PEI stores in the season to come. Their dream: getting their pickles on A&W’s burgers (as the fast food chain is currently moving to all-natural ingredients). Their goal: a deep-fried pickles cart, and eventually a food truck. Keep your eyes peeled for their success.

*Editor’s Note: The company rebranded from Fortune Bridge Foods to Fortune Bridge Brinery after our issue went to print.

About Jessica L. Fritz

Jessica is "from away" in the truest sense of its meaning: her roots are in Germany. She immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2010 and moved to PEI two summers ago. As a passionate home cook Jessica likes to explore different types of cuisines including her native one. "Thinking globally, buying locally" is her foodie mantra, and being able to grow veggies in her own backyard was one of the big drivers for her move to PEI.
Putting words on paper has always been a way to express herself. Hence, writing for Salty combines her love for food and the written word while at the same time discovering PEI's thriving culinary landscape.
And recently, Jessica and her husband launched their own food business: Maritime Marzipan offers hand-made traditional European almond treats inspired by Island living. She is blogging about her adventure here on saltyisland.com or you can find them at maritimemarzipan.com.

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