Salsa
Alligator File Photo

Moe’s Southwest Grill thought a Newberry woman’s Three Bears Salsa wasn’t too hot, or too mild, but in fact, was just right.

Cheryl Gallowitz, a veterinary technician at the UF Large Animal Hospital, won the Moe’s Raise the Salsa Bar contest more than a year ago, and her salsa finally debuted nationwide last week.

The salsa gets its name from the Goldilocks children’s story, said Gallowitz, because it’s the right balance between hot and mild.

“When I was trying batches and having my friends test it out, I kept hearing ‘Oh, it’s perfect,’ and ‘Oh, it’s just right’,” she said. “That’s what brought in the fairytale connotation of Goldilocks.”

Gallowitz said she doesn’t cook, but she used the contest to create a salsa similar to one she used to like when she lived in New York City.

“I have no culinary skills,” she said. “This was something I did to recreate salsa I enjoyed so much in the restaurant from home.”

Gallowitz said the secret to her salsa’s success is ensuring all of the ingredients, which include diced tomatoes, green pepper and pickled jalapeños, are fresh.

Brad Chasteen, the owner of the Moe’s at 3443 SW Archer Road, said he is proud the winner of the contest is from the Gainesville area.

“It’s wonderful that we can have the focus of the entire brand in Gainesville,” he said. “Having your customers be a part of the creative process is cool.”

The Three Bears Salsa will be available at all Moe’s locations for six months, but Chasteen said if it is successful, it could become a staple.

“If it’s extremely popular — and we’ll see how the customers and country like it — there’s a possibility it could stay forever and be part of the Moe’s salsa rotation,” he said.

A version of this story ran on page 5 on 10/7/2013 under the headline "Gainesville salsa at Moe’s"