"The whole thing was an accident," laughed Dara Schwartz about creating the first of her five marvelous Darista Dips (spoiler alert: more innovative flavors are on the way). This fortunate happenstance occurred in between pop-up restaurant and catering gigs, when Schwartz found herself loaded with surplus locally grown vegetables and Snowville Creamery yogurt.

"The whole thing was an accident," laughed Dara Schwartz about creating the first of her five marvelous Darista Dips (spoiler alert: more innovative flavors are on the way). This fortunate happenstance occurred in between pop-up restaurant and catering gigs, when Schwartz found herself loaded with surplus locally grown vegetables and Snowville Creamery yogurt.

As "the girl who always brought hummus to the party - even back before hummus was so popular," Schwartz began fashioning a dip with those aforementioned ingredients. Realizing she'd inadvertently used vanilla yogurt, she added garlic and tinkered with spices to balance out the sweetness until … voila! ... Schwartz had a unique and delicious new snack on her hands. When pop-up and catering customers later began demanding more and more of it, Schwartz backburnered her budding plans for a brick-and-mortar restaurant to pursue this serendipitous new course. Bonus: producing a line of artisan dips would allow Schwartz to re-employ the keen branding skills she'd honed working her way up a previous-career ladder in marketing.

That flair for merchandising is clearly apparent inside the 23 stores currently selling Schwartz's delicious wares, because her stylishly packaged Darista Dips look as hip as they taste. And those tastes!

Unlike conventional dips, Daristas are healthy, local-focused, preservative-free and dynamic. Their bold and complex-yet-accessible flavors (e.g. harissa-spiked "Hip-Hoppin' Morockin' Carrot" and "Zah-mazing Za'atar") might progress from crisp to comforting to sweet to spicy - all in a single bite.

While recipes originate from Schwartz's fertile imagination, they also access "flavor memories" of world travels and kitchen mentors. See, as with that yogurt dip, Schwartz's cuisine approach is "about telling a story."

For instance, the "¡Que Bueno! Piquillo" (tangy roasted red pepper hummus, and one of my favorites) honors Schwartz's time cooking at Barcelona Restaurant and Bar. Come October (scoop alert!), when three new Darista Dips are released, two will be chocolate-kissed flavors commemorating a couple of early culinary gurus: Spagio Chef Hubert Seifert and Stauf's Mark Swanson. The third October release will be a "taste tribute" to Schwartz's travels throughout Thailand.

Here's what else Schwartz is cooking up: a "Ship the Dip" home-delivery program; teaching classes that demonstrate the seasonal versatility of her killer dips (by converting them into salad dressings, holiday sides, etc.) and "taking the dips to the street" via a food cart. I'm guessing - and hoping - we can also anticipate a few more delectable accidents, too.