Tall Tales For Your Nightly Entertainment

I am going to be putting some new designs on some shirts and making them available in tall sizes since there have been requests.  I have also adjusted the prices on current inventory.

Work is winding down as we get ready for mud season here in the Wasatch.  I played around with one of my demo sauces that I have been working on and made something with it that was not just the sauce on a piece of meat.  I also hope to have some more recipes for things to do with Grandma Fitch's Gourmet Cocktail Sauce available in the near future.

Simmering shrimp shells, coconut milk, and chicken stock.

The finished dish with jasmine rice and sweet potato.  Could have used some cilantro.

Smoke and Mirrors

I have been fitting in development for future sauces when I have time.  The steak sauce is still not where I want it and I cooked a new, different batch last week, but think I will have to do a few more little mods to it still.  We will see.  I also put down the first batch of a curry based sauce, but I know that is way off and I already know some changes I want to make for the next few tests.

I ordered some kola nut powder for a sauce I have been story boarding and will order ingredients for another sauce I have been making since my Martha's Vineyard days, which should be fairly easy to nail down in terms of product development, but now that I said that it's probably going to be a nightmare.

In other entirely unrelated and inane news, yesterday marked 60 days out from my vacation, so I did our Fastpass+ selections.  I did them only for the days when we are definitely going to the parks for dining and leaving the others blank, to give us freedom to do or not do things the other days, especially since I know we are going to make a trip to Tampa and meet up with some friends(and eat), and we need to do at least one day at Universal.

The other thing we are going to be doing in Florida, is volunteering for a shift at Give Kids the World Village.  It's a great non-profit that pairs with wish giving charities for families with children who have life threatening illnesses.  It allows them to visit the parks of central Florida, and provides them with a great vacation with plenty of entertainment if they are not feeling up to all the hubbub of Walt Disney World, Universal, and SeaWorld.

"It's like salsa and cocktail sauce had a baby!"

The first few orders have shipped and I am pretty stoked on that, I have finally picked up the remaining bottles from the copacker and have them all stored away properly.  They are currently available for sale at the restaurant, too.

I really wanted to say how fun it was on the production day working with the crew there, I helped with cutting the vegetables, stirring the sauce as it cooked and also helped with the bottling.  I did not feel like I was in the way at all, either, thanks to my professional cooking background.  I want to help out every time we bottle if that is a possibility.  It's just fun being in there and seeing a different side of food production. 

I dropped off a couple of bottles with my local grocery store.  I have somewhat of a friendship with their cheesemonger, from back when we used to have a cheeseboard on our dessert menu at 350 Main Brasserie, and hopefully I will find my way onto their shelves in the near future.  She gave me some advice as to other-things I should prep in the way of presentation materials for sales pitches, which in all honesty are not my strong suit, but at least for now are something that I will have to handle and develop proficincy at.

Testing, Testing, Sibilance, 1, 2, 3...

Update 1/9/18- So I have tasted all these batches freshly made and I think the sweet spot is a combo of the first batch and the sixth batch, but will wait to judge and do new modifications until they have rested for two weeks.  Sixth was awesome, but needs a little pick up from the first recipe.

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Played around with a sauce I've been formulating in my head.  It's a steak sauce and the first two recipes tasted great, but are not what I want.  I will do three other recipes tomorrow and up this date then.  I will give them all a retry in two weeks since I'm canning them to see how they develop in the jar.

Yes, I have the Star Wars paper towels.

Yes, I have the Star Wars paper towels.

SteakJan7.JPG

You're Going to Feel a Slight Pinch

We just finished with the Christmas vacation rush at work, and it was aggressively busy, as usual.  I finally have a night off and I am currently awaiting a fine pizza delivery service to bring me a "light snack."  When I haven't been busy with my regular job I have been focusing on some graphic design work and recipe ideas for future products, so I am not really resting a whole lot, but that kinda comes with the turf.

My training for my half-marathon at Walt Disney World has been going swimmingly on top of everything else I am doing and in two weeks we will see the start of the Sundance Film Festival which will bring another round of madness to town and then it will be busy, but not painfully so like it is during Christmas break and Sundance. 

Still waiting for word from my co-packer as to when I can get in for the next phase of product development.  I'll be honest, it's not taking longer than I thought it would, it's been taking a whole lot longer, but such is life.

The design work I've been doing will probably see some t-shirts soon.  I'm pretty stoked on them and can't wait to get them up online, but not nearly as much as I would like to get sales of my first sauce going.

It's Monday, Charlie Brown!

After I finish writing this, I am going to move on to dealing with some stuff for advertising purposes and will be bringing in some apropos products to do a photo shoot with.  If anyone wants to help me eat some shellfish in the next few weeks, give me a shout.  We'll have to do something with it when the shoot is over.

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It's Heartbreaking, Really.

Another day in the lab.  Modified a few things in the recipe.  Had one wrong thing show up, and I used it. The natural flavor that I need to bolster the flavor cooked off completely.  So, to use a verbose and possibly confounding simile, the final was pretty much like the food equivalent of the right frame from Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights.  I guess it wasn't that bad.  But I can't be putting that mess in a jar with my Grammy's name on it.  The last batch was 10 times better.  Anyway, more orders are in for sample products and I hit it again next week.

I have a few weeks left to finalize the recipe if I hope to get to grocery stores by December, which is my goal.    I'm a touch stressed over the probability that I won't make my goal, but not so much that I am letting it rule my life, but if I hope to get some magazine coverage then it needs to stay on track.  The good news is that I have the label pretty close to finalized.  I just need to streamline the ingredients section, and have the label printer put in the UPC for me.  For whatever reason the UPC doesn't print well, but it is a live code and I have enough of them to move into a couple of more products in the next few years.  

Anyway.  Croque monsieurs for dinner, and then to make the biggest decision of the day, do I have Pepperidge Farms Brussels cookies or Bordeaux cookies.

Adjust Seasoning to Taste

Made the first real test batch, and I found the flavor to be right on, except for one of them is not strong enough.  So I have ordered a few different types of natural flavorings, extracts, and powders to see if one of them will fill in the void.  The problem is that the original form of the flavor dissipates with heat, so I am trying to find a type of it that will add the target flavor without causing temperature issues for the sanitation and sealing on the jars.  It really does taste great. 

It will be a few weeks while I wait for all these samples to arrive, although the first one has. I tried it, and I was really disappointed with it.  You could tell that at one point it tasted like it should, but you were left with all the underlying backgound flavors without the high notes that you were looking for.  I think the best way to describe it would be If you were listening to hardcore punk and all that you could here was the sounds from the DIY garage production booth, without the music actually kicking you in the teeth.

Maybe next time.

 

She blinded me with science.

One of the more enjoyable things I experienced while visiting with the latest co-packer was a demo of one of the products they make.  It's a hydrocolloid for thickening foods.  It's not something I plan on using in my product, but it was cool to see it work and see the excitement of the food scientist while she talked about it.  I have some to play with now, but will wait until I'm not dealing with my real job and what I guess is considered a "start-up."  I am going to pull together another test batch this weekend.

While there is currently nothing that I have found that is what I am doing, I am convinced there is a market for it with the suggested retail price we will hit.  There are many other high end condiments right at our price level.  So that fills me with hope.  I am hopefully only about a month out from having a product, and as soon as I do I will have it up on the website.

What's The Word I Am Looking For...

I met with a co-packer on the third.  It went well, I think I would prefer to use a "turnkey" co-packer rather that one that can only pack the jars.  I have another tentative meeting with them on Tuesday.  After that I will be meeting with one of my purveyors about getting costs on ingredients down.  As much as my product is going to be a more expensive version of something you would normally buy, it's a little more like the cost of a Bentley or Aston Martin, where as I would prefer it to be closer to a BMW, Cadillac, or even a Platinum edition Ford.

Still have some other functional hurdles to clear, in the way of insurance and being compliant with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food(UDAF), and the FDA.  The UDAF will be an inspection of the plant where I will be producing it, and they already produce canned food there so it's just going to be a formality for my particular use of it and the FDA is just making sure that the nutritional information is properly measured and formatted properly on my label.  Even though I do not have to have a label for what will probably be my production volume for the first year, I do need it since I will be offering Web based sales and they need it for crossing state lines.  Thankfully the packer has a food scientist on staff and they can take care of it.  I had contacted an outside company to do it, but since it will probably be cheaper through the packer, that will be the way I go.

I'm SAILING!

It was a magnificent day in front of the computer working on my label design. I think the upside is that due to the small size of the container, I do not have to put nutritional data on it.  I will be putting a QR code on it that will like to nutritional information. I have a morning meeting with a purveyor. I have not really much to say, but feel like an update is needed.  Trying to contact other co-packers, and I am meeting with one on August 3.  Aside from that, my real full time job is going swimmingly. blah, blah, blah.

Keeping the Ball Rolling

I went and visited a co-packer today and it was pretty cool to see some of the equipment in action, much like watching "How it's Made."  The only thing is that they can't produce it from raw product.  They just handle the packaging end of it, which is probably a good thing at the scale I am starting out at to keep costs lower, and if we end up teaming up and the product is successful they would be up for adding equipment/facilities to do that part of the production.

I finished the state business registration and will have the business plan done in the next couple of days.  I will also continue to find the ways to pitch my product to large food retailers.  I will try to get into a few local places, but my vision is to be nation wide.  One step at a time, though.

Day 1(ish)

Well, it's the first day with the website. I'm pretty excited to finally get the ball rolling on a project I have been daydreaming about for years, which means the only possible outcome is failure, am I right? 

 

I will be meeting with my first prospective co-packer this week and be dealing with some of the business legal work. Did I mention how excited I am?