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Produce Show Daily 3 9 Saturday, October 19, 2019 Striking the Motherlode in Colorado By Lorrie Baumann Colorado-based Motherlode Provisions started with a wildfire. It was back in 2010 when a wildfire broke out below the historic mining camp at Gold Hill, Colorado. "Everyone was evacuated for about 10 days," recalls Carolyn Oxley, who with her husband Leland Oxley, is a co-Owner of Motherlode Provisions. When 230 or so residents of the tiny town were allowed to return to their homes, Leland, who is a chef, was asked to cater a benefit barbecue to welcome everyone back home. He smoked several hundred pounds of meat, brisket and pork shoulder and made a simple sauce to go with it. "He had a smoker on hand because he's the kind of guy who has a smoker on hand," Carolyn says. "On a whim, we decided to put the barbecue sauce into bot- tles and sold it with handmade labels." Along the way, Leland thought about the sauce he'd put on the table and came face to face with the fact that although he, a Kansas native who'd grown up sur- rounded by barbecue, knew exactly what he thought barbecue sauce is supposed to taste like, the Rocky Mountain region didn't actually have a sauce style to call its own. After his sauce was a hit at the barbecue, Leland set out to change that by inventing a sauce that would honor the spirit of the Rocky Mountain region and the gold mining heritage that inspired the brand on the label of the Oxleys' sauce. By May of 2011, Motherlode Provisions had two barbecue sauces and a Bloody Mary mix on store shelves. They're all thicker than most sauces, with rustic bits of chopped vegetables in a tomato base and hearty flavors that evoke the adventurous spirit of the Rocky Mountain wilderness. "That was definite- ly a deliberate choice. We wanted a Bloody Mary mix that would be rustic and hearty and wouldn't water down easily," Carolyn says. "It has chopped jalapeno, toasted onion, some pieces of garlic. It does create a heartier mix, and that is what we want- ed." The Motherlode Provisions Rocky Mountain Barbecue Sauce is similar to the Bloody Mary mix: thick and savory with bold fla- vors. "It's earthy in flavor rather than syrupy-sweet. a little more rustic. It's a savory barbecue sauce, which sets it apart from quite a few oth- ers on the market," Carolyn says. For those who like their barbecue a little sweeter, Motherlode Provisions makes Sweet Honey Lavender Barbecue Sauce, which contains real lavender bells and lavender oil in a tomato base and sweetened with honey. "It's really deli- cious on poultry and game meats. Also really wonderful on vegetarian dishes like Portobello mushrooms or asparagus. You saute asparagus and add a little bit of Sweet Honey Lavender Barbecue Sauce," Carolyn says. "There's also something about the gaminess of game meats that complements lavender really well. It's very good with duck, too." Since that initial introduction of the two sauces and the Bloody Mary mix, the Oxleys have continued their recipe development, and new products have joined the line, including Rocky Mountain Hot Sauce, Wildfire Hot Sauce, Motherlode Steak Sauce and Sweet & Smoky Barbecue Sauce, a sauce with a familiar barbecue flavor. "Because the other two are unique, we wanted to make a sauce that met the expectations of the majority of barbecue-sauce-speaking customers," Carolyn says. "It contains hickory smoke, and it's on the sweeter side with a little bit of heat, very tradi- tional flavor and smooth texture. It's a wonderful all-around versatile barbecue sauce, and a great dipping sauce for French fries. It's a nice condiment, great on a burger." For more information, email inquiry@motherlodeprovisions.com. Local Focus Drives Sales for Chicago's Garden Gourmet By Lorrie Baumann Tucked in among the restaurants on the Wicker Park neighborhood side of Division Street, Garden Gourmet offers Chicago, Illinois, commuters a taste of fresh and local in an easy stop on their way home from the nearby subway sta- tion. Inside the 2,500 square-foot space, they find abundant choices for craft beers and wines; fresh, organic produce; a cheese case, grass-fed meats and a selec- tion of packaged products to round out meals. "What distinguishes us is that we buy from a lot of local vendors here in Chicago," said Owner Maher Farhan. "I buy from a lot of up-and-coming compa- nies, mainly because they have good products. They're not always there yet [with the power to distribute their prod- ucts through distributors], and I know how it feels to start a business." Those local selections include the gourmet cuts of grass-fed meats, much of the seasonal produce, pasta sauces, chocolate and the artisanal small-batch coffees from Intelligentsia and Dark Matters. "Our customers are willing to try local," Farhan said. "I think it's great that people are willing to buy things just because they're local – or they're just starting – and they'd like to help out." "We have a local salad guy who comes in and makes vegan salads and lit- tle vegetable salads, and people just love his stuff. He has a great following," he added. "There's a lot of new CBD prod- ucts that are local. People come to us first to sell their products." Farhan opened the store in 2010. He and his wife were both recent college graduates – he'd been a political science major at the University of Illinois, Chicago and had graduated in 2008 and she'd graduated in 2009. Both Chicago natives, they wanted to stay in the city, but the local economy was reeling in the midst of the Great Recession. "It was very hard to find a decent job back then," Farhan said. "There was really nothing available – there was nothing available for a new graduate. It was either start your own business or sell insurance door to door. I didn't want to do that.... I fol- lowed in the family footsteps and started my own store." During his childhood years, Farhan's family had owned a grocery store about a mile and a half from where he operates today. Since he was familiar with the area, that's where he started looking for a location to open his own store. "I found a space that wasn't for rent, but when I asked the landlord, they were more than willing to rent it to me," he said. "It turned out to be a good location because of its proximity to the busy intersection and the busy train station. I have cus- tomers who stop in twice a day." The store's Wicker Park neighbor- hood offers a traditional downtown area with its row of bars and cafes along Division Street, and it's revitalizing with new apartment buildings that are attract- ing residents into the area along with tourism traffic from Airbnb rentals. "We all add to the appeal of the neighborhood. It's kind of what brings people to the neighborhood," Farhan said. "It has ambiance. It draws people who want to experience the neighborhood." Farhan operates the store with four employees who have a voice in the prod- ucts that he stocks. "People send us sam- ples all the time. We buy what we like," he said. "Instead of a salesman coming through the door, we tend to buy what we like, and it's been working out for us." That focus on buying the products that interest the store's staff translates into the staff's ability to provide cus- tomer service and to influence shoppers' purchasing decisions, Farhan said. "We can vouch for the products. You've got to know what you're selling," he said. "One of the main things I live by is just product knowledge. You've got to know what you're selling, and it just drives sales." Duck Fat Now Available in a Cooking Spray By Lorrie Baumann Cornhusker Kitchen has introduced Duck Fat Cooking Spray to the market. Packaged in a 7-ounce can with a two- year shelf life, Duck Fat Cooking Spray delivers a fat beloved by high-end chefs in a format that appeals to home cooks, including those who grill and barbecue, as well as consumers who are practicing keto and Paleo lifestyles, said Dennis Schuett, who developed the product and introduced it to the market along with his business partner, Roger Brodersen. "The duck fat doesn't overpower – it just makes food better," he said. "We have such a diversity in our customers – it's amazing." Schuett's development of the Duck Fat Cooking Spray happened over the course of four years and started with Coney dogs. Schuett was serving Coney dogs in his cafes in Omaha and needed beef tallow to make the authentic sauce, and his source for his "secret ingredient" happened to mention one day that he could also supply duck fat from a Pennsylvania pasture-raised duck farm if Schuett had a use for it. That greased the wheels in Schuett's culinary brain. "I got on the computer and started learning more and more about duck fat and found it to be one of the most wonderful cooking fats I'd ever dealt with," Schuett said. "This, you can spray on food. You can spray it on your pan for a wonderful pan release, but you can feel good about spraying it right on your food." He learned that duck fat was shelf- stable with a melting point around 58 or 59 degrees and that it has a high smoke point. "So I thought, 'what a wonderful cooking fat it could be if we could put it into a spray application for searing or for using as a binder for rubs and spices,'" he said. "It would be so much easier than heating up a fat or using a brush and try- ing to get all the areas covered." That began Schuett's search for the way to turn the duck fat into an aerosol spray. "I started looking at the world of aerosols, and for the most part, I didn't like what I found," he said. "Many ingre- dients had nothing to do with the flavor." When he discovered bag-on-valve tech- nology, which features a product-filled bag inside a can that uses pressure between the can and flexible bag to pro- pel a spray without the need for chemical propellants, he was, he says, "the happiest person in the world." With the technology secured, Schuett next had to find a co- packer that was certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to handle a poultry product and that was willing to house Schuett's new equipment before he could go into production. Schuett found that combination in the state next door to his Nebraska home, and he now has a product that's already being embraced by specialty food grocers around the U.S. and by competitors on the country's bar- becue circuit who are finding that it allows them to achieve a great reverse sear with attractive grill marks. "It's sure nice on vegetables too," Schuett said. "Air fryer folks are using it too. It's like a godsend for those. It's easy to clean up, and you hardly have to use any, and it cre- ates a wonderful savory finish on fish, on pork or beef – I could just go on and on." Cornhusker Kitchen Duck Fat Cooking Spray retails for $8.99 to $12.99 for the 7-ounce can. Cases contain six cans. For more information, call Dennis Schuett at 402.306.5958 or email dennis@duckfatspray.com.

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