By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Jun 22, 2022 at 11:02 AM

What’s sweet, smokey and cheesy and coming to a beer garden near you?

It’s called a toasty, and it might just be the most deliciously beer-worthy sandwich of the summer, composed with smoked gouda and tangy-sweet S.A. Braai chutney married together between two slices of bread that have been grilled to toasty perfection.

In fact, if you were at The Landing at Hoyt Park, 1800 N. Swan Blvd., this weekend, you may have been among the first to get your hands on one of these delicious sandwiches during the first of a series of Mama Fuerte pop-ups, which are slated to take place throughout the summer at various locations.

Founded by Wendi Horcos, Mama Fuerte is the burgeoning parent company behind SA Braai, the longtime South African chutney brand which made its return to the market last summer, and is now available in 35 retail locations throughout Southeast Wisconsin and beyond. 

But, Horcos and her Mama Fuerte team, including Brian Wash, Vanessa Parker and Chef Abby Kazal-Thresher, are also on a mission to make chutney the condiment of the summer.

Eat chutney on everything

“Chutney doesn’t automatically hit you as a universal condiment,” says Kazal-Thresher, a veteran chef who has channeled her creativity into assisting with research and development for the Mama Fuerte brand.

“But chutney is subtle and balanced, and ultimately it’s way more versatile than people realize. So our goal is to make as many delicious things as we can to show people just how versatile chutney can be.”

That includes uses as a marinade or glaze, a dip, a spread, a topping for macaroni and cheese or pizza or simply a flavor boosting ingredient for anything that needs a bit of sweet kick.

But it also includes delicious snacks like toasties, which can be ordered with or without the addition of crisp, smokey bacon ($9-12), as well as Chut Boxes, a snackable box filled with Wisconsin cheeses, charcuterie, fruits and chutney for dipping (feeds two for $18).

Chut Box
Chut Box (photo: Mama Fuerte)
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And yes, Kazal-Thresher has more clever ideas in the works, which could make their debuts at any one of the upcoming pop-ups.

In fact, guests will catch regular appearances from Mama Fuerte at The Landing at Hoyt Park on Saturdays beginning at 4 p.m. Pop-up dates include June 25, July 2, July 16, July 23, July 30 and Sept. 3

Mama Fuerte will also be promoting cheerful chutnification (and debuting Becher Meats brats topped with pickled red onions and “chustard”: a mix of S.A. Braai chutney and spicy brown mustard) at Station No. 6, 6800 W. Becher St. in West Allis on Friday July 1 and July 29 beginning at 4 p.m. 

More to come

Kazal-Thresher says she’s excited about the pop-ups. But she’s also eager to work with Horcos to take the Mama Fuerte brand to the next level.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have a very diverse background in terms of food and I’m really excited to be able to take all of those things that I’ve gathered from working around the country and use them to support someone who is doing something that I feel really good about.”

“People assume that – because I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for so long – that I’m passionate about food. And I am. But, deep down, what I’m really passionate about is being creative. I’ve been very fortunate to have had a very diverse background in terms of food, and working for Mama Fuerte gives me both the opportunity to express that creativity while also helping someone to launch a national brand.”

Horcos says she’s thrilled to have found such a talented team of passionate people with whom she can work alongside.

“I’m so blessed to have people working with me who are just as excited as I am about all of this,” says Horcos, “And I’m so grateful to have Abby on board. She’s brought so much valuable experience to the table, along with spunk, creativity and an interest in moving the brand forward.”
You can view the full Mama Fuerte pop-up schedule online and keep up by giving them a follow on Instagram.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.