Chutney’s Gourmet is a line of nutritious, super premium, human-grade dog treats.

When owners, Shalini and Su, both doctors, took their adorable, energetic labradoodle, Chutney, to puppy kindergarten, it set in motion a chain of events that would lead to the unexpected founding of a gourmet dog treat business.

Finding a surprising lack of quality training treats available at retail, they decided to make their own. Understanding both pet and human nutrition, they insisted on real, healthful ingredients – stuff that they’d actually eat themselves. The results were astonishing. Not only had they developed a nutritious training treat that Chutney LOVED, his puppy pals at school were equally enamored…to the point that they no longer responded to the treats that their parents brought!

Chutney’s Gourmet was born.


Initially branded as Chutney’s Chow, they designed a logo and packaging themselves, and started selling at a local farmer’s market. With great success and repeat customers, they were encouraged to progress further. They sought out a branding and marketing partner who could refine their identity, story, and packaging. After speaking with a few agencies that couldn’t accommodate the company’s modest startup budget, Upstart Food Brands was recommended, and hired, to help them evolve their brand.

We began at the foundation, producing a 64-page go-to-market strategy plan that included an outline of the features and benefits of the product, primary trend drivers, key statistics and insights about the dog treat market and key segments, research on the competitive landscape, profiles of target customers, challenges and opportunities for the brand, value proposition, brand positioning statement, budget modeling, and marketing strategy recommendations.

From strategy, we moved to naming, and after considering a wide variety of approaches, we felt that Chutney should remain central to the brand theme. We replaced the word “Chow” – which said food more than treats – with “Gourmet”, and developed a new logo with the new brand name, Chutney’s Gourmet.


Upstart Food Brands designed new printed pouches, featuring fun, custom photos of Chutney, colorful patterns, and engaging stories. The first two products–Soft & Savory Chicken Tikka and All-American PB&J Bursts–are part of the initial launch, with a few other treats formulated and ready to produce once the brand gets a foothold. Additionally, the company has innovative products like functional dog beverages in the works that Upstart Food Brands will help launch.

Soft & Savory Chicken Tikka Product Story:

If there’s such a thing as a perfect dog treat, Soft & Savory Chicken Tikka is it! We developed our recipe from scratch, dicing and roasting small pieces of fresh farm-raised chicken, and carefully seasoning them with the perfect blend of mellow Indian spices and superfood greens. We set out to give our Chutney a more healthful training treat for puppy kindergarten, but ended up with amazing human-grade morsels that no dog can resist; a true reward, measured in eager tail wags and sloppy, thankful face slurps!

All-American PB&J Bursts Product Story:

Nothing is more American than the sweet and roasty combination of peanut butter & jelly. In the same way that the sandwich delights our two-legged children, our All-American PB&J Bursts are a definite favorite of our four-legged kids. You may even catch your kids and pooches sharing a few morsels…and that’s okay! Made with oatmeal, fresh roasted peanuts, whole blueberries, and apple, these irresistible small-batch snacks are high quality and human-grade.


With the increasing ubiquity of online shopping, the potential for greater sales margins, and a product that lends itself to regular buying patterns, the idea to launch an online store with a subscription model made for a logical entry into the dog treat market.

Additionally, because the product is made fresh, without preservatives, it must be kept refrigerated. While more and more stores have refrigerated coolers for fresh dog food and treats, it’s not yet common enough to make investing in a retail launch sensible for Chutney’s Gourmet at this time.

To support the subscription model, Upstart Food Brands created Chutney’s Clubhouse, a sub-brand of Chutney’s Gourmet, which represents the various levels of subscription one can sign up for. Joining the clubhouse gives you certain perks beyond fresh, human-grade dog treats delivered directly to your door, and the different packages – Friendship, Inner Circle, and BFF – offer increased benefit (and inclusion into a certain relationship status with Chutney). We assisted with pricing strategy, and created a fun branded shipping box, as well as a branded picnic basket cooler, branded ice packs, and a scented sticker to excite the canine recipient when their package arrives at the door!

We developed the website,, implementing the Woocommerce Subscription product to seamlessly manage online orders. With plans to implement a more sophisticated inventory management system, and an interactive ordering process, which will allow for matching pet attributes and needs with the right functional treats, the online presence of Chutney’s Gourmet has tremendous potential to become a major factor in the pet product online marketplace.

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