A year and half ago when I first sat down with Jay Ducote, he told me his story of how he got started in the blogging world and rose to be a prominent food blogger in the South. He also mentioned a barbecue sauce that he was working on. Well, he’s kept his word because a couple weeks ago he launched his magnificent Louisiana Barbecue Sauce to retail stores in Baton Rouge. Between managing a popular food blog, radio show, and launching a new product, he also competed on Food Networks Cutthroat Kitchen recently.
I had the pleasure to hangout with Jay at his stylish office in Baton Rouge to talk about his experiences launching his first retail product.
In a world of great gourmet foods and options, Mark Ramadan discovered that ketchup has always been just ketchup. Mark, and friend Scott Norton, had the idea to make a better ketchup than the standard highly processed brand on the market. While still in college the two cooked up a mess in their apartment (photo) and decided to have a party amongst friends to see if this idea had legs — It did. Over a period of 6 years, they grew their company, Sir Kensington’s — maker of gourmet condiments like ketchup (spiced ketchup is legit), mustard, and mayo — into over 4,000 retail stores and over 350 restaurants/hotels nationwide.
I had the pleasure to talk with Mark (via Skype) from his office in New York, NY to talk about what it really takes to grow a company. If you’re a food entrepreneur, you can’t afford to miss this.
I’m from the south, if there’s one thing we know how to do right, it’s to have a party. When a rival team plays at LSU and causes an earthquake (hints the name ‘Death Valley’), we have a party. We don’t just start a fast, we have what’s called Fat Tuesday and when a Hurricane comes into town, we have a Hurricane party (and another one when it’s over). So obviously when I had the idea of having a salad dressing — I had a party.
When I had the idea to take my salad dressing to the grocery shelves, I didn’t know a thing about the food industry. All I knew is that I had to make it in an FDA approved kitchen. I looked and talked to everyone I knew that had a kitchen; I could make it in a food truck and wash their tuck in return, I could use a restaurant on a Sunday night when their closed, I could make it at my house if I kept the dogs and kids outside — these where the options floating through my head. Not only did I find a kitchen, I found a proven system that can bring your food idea to the shelves.