Eerie Eats: A Guide to Spooky Produce

By | Fruit, Produce, Vegetables

🎃👻 Welcome, fellow kitchen magicians, to a spine-tingling tour of the eerie and exotic produce that’s bound to haunt your kitchen this Halloween season! We’ve summoned a ghoulish gallery of weird and wonderful ingredients that will make your culinary cauldron bubble with delight. No need to be a “ghoulmet” to enjoy these mysterious morsels!

Salsify – The Ghostly Root 👻

Flavor Profile: Salsify, with its slender, parsnip-like appearance, has a subtle, earthy flavor with hints of oyster and artichoke.

Fun Fact: Roast or puree salsify for a side dish that’ll make your taste buds howl or use it as a secret ingredient in a devilishly delightful soup.

Item #20536

Chinese Eggplant – The Purple Phantoms 💀

Flavor Profile: Slim and svelte, Chinese eggplants have a mild, slightly sweet flavor, perfect for absorbing savory sauces.

Fun Fact: Slice and dice these purple phantoms for a ghoulish stir-fry or a wicked tempura dish.

Item #20071

Lotus Lilly Root – The Swampy Relic 🐉

Flavor Profile: With a crunchy texture and a subtle, nutty flavor, these aquatic wonders add a mystical touch to your dishes.

Fun Fact: Add slices to a sinister stir-fry or tempura, bringing an otherworldly crunch to your meal.

Item #20530

Gooseberries – The Enchanted Orbs 🦢

Flavor Profile: Tangy and sweet, these bewitched berries offer a burst of flavor with a hint of sourness.

Fun Fact: Gooseberries make spellbinding jams and jellies for your spooky morning toast.

Item #02279

Bulls Blood Micromix – The Haunting Greens 🌱

Flavor Profile: This blend of microgreens combines the earthy taste of beets with a hint of spinach, making it a ghastly garnish.

Fun Fact: Use these haunting greens as a creepy crown on top of your ghoulish soups or eerie entrees.

Item #40311

Romanesco – The Alien Cauliflower 🛸

Flavor Profile: This fractal-like brassica boasts a nutty, earthy flavor, perfect for a truly out-of-this-world experience.

Fun Fact: Roast it with some olive oil and garlic for an otherworldly side dish.

Item #20974

Finger Limes – The Wicked Wonders 🧟‍♂️

Flavor Profile: These citrus grenades burst with tangy, caviar-like pearls of flavor, like a citrus potion for your dishes.

Fun Fact: Use them as garnish on spooky cocktails or salads for a surprising burst of citrusy “scream.”

Item #40500

Black Garlic – The Vampire’s Delight 🦇

Flavor Profile: Fermented garlic that’s dark as midnight, it offers a sweet, molasses-like richness with a hint of umami.

Fun Fact: Create a sinisterly delicious black garlic aioli for your monstrous burgers or pasta dishes.

Item #20979

Kohlrabi – The Alien Abduction 👽

Flavor Profile: This extraterrestrial-looking veggie tastes like a crisp and mild blend of radish and broccoli stems.

Fun Fact: Slice them into spooky UFO-like discs and dunk them in your favorite dip for a cosmic snack.

Item #20916

Cactus Pears – The Prickly Surprise 🌵

Flavor Profile: These thorny treasures offer a sweet, watermelon-like flavor with a hint of kiwi.

Fun Fact: Turn cactus pears into a bewitching jelly for spreading on sinister scones.

Item #10750

Brown Clamshell Mushrooms – The Fungal Fright 🍄

Flavor Profile: These dark, delicate mushrooms have a mild, earthy flavor with a hint of nuttiness.

Fun Fact: Sauté them with garlic and butter for a creepy side dish or use them to make a sinister mushroom risotto.

Item #30033, Item #99752

Cactus Leaves – The Prickly Palms 🌵

Flavor Profile: With a tangy, slightly tart taste and a crisp texture, cactus leaves add a unique twist to your dishes.

Fun Fact: Grill them to create eerie cactus leaf tacos, or slice them thinly for a ghostly, crunchy slaw.

Item #20929

Purple Potatoes – The Witch’s Stash 🧙‍♀️

Flavor Profile: These potatoes offer a rich, earthy flavor with a subtle sweetness and a vivid purple hue.

Fun Fact: Mash them into a spine-chilling purple potato puree or slice them into eerie, violet chips.

Item #60365

Artichokes – The Heart of Darkness 🖤

Flavor Profile: With a meaty, nutty taste, artichokes are perfect for dipping in sauces or adding a mysterious touch to pasta.

Fun Fact: Hollow out the artichoke hearts, stuff them with delectable fillings, and bake for a hauntingly good appetizer.

Item #20906

Don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from experimenting with these sinister ingredients. What Chefs Want is here to supply the creepiest and most captivating ingredients for your culinary spells. This Halloween season, dare to be different, and let your kitchen become the cauldron of curiosity where taste and terror collide! Mwahaha! 🎃🕷️👹

Exploring Unique Fall Soups & Stews

By | Appetizers, Holiday, What Chefs Want

Fall is a season of transition and transformation, and it’s also an excellent time to experiment with unique and unexpected soups and stews that will leave your diners pleasantly surprised. For chefs who rely on What Chefs Want for their produce, meat, seafood, gourmet, and kitchen staples, the possibilities are endless. Let’s dive into some innovative ideas for fall soups and stews that will tantalize taste buds and create memorable dining experiences.

Roasted Beet and Apple Bisque

Move beyond the ordinary with a vibrant roasted beet and apple bisque. Roast beets until tender, then blend them with sweet apples and a touch of cream for a velvety, magenta-hued soup. Finish with a sprinkle of goat cheese and toasted walnuts for a delightful contrast of flavors and textures.

  • Beets (Item #20401)
  • Goat Cheese Crumble (Item #96537)
  • Gala Apple (Item #10217)

Smoky Pumpkin and Chorizo Stew

Pumpkin isn’t just for pie! Create a smoky pumpkin and chorizo stew that balances the sweetness of pumpkin with the spiciness of chorizo sausage. The result is a rich and smoky stew that’s perfect for a chilly fall evening.

  • Chorizo (Item #23856)
  • Canned Pumpkin (Item #90562)
  • OR whole pumpkin (Item #20643)

Thai Coconut Lemongrass Soup with Crab

Transport your diners to the flavors of Thailand with a Thai coconut lemongrass soup featuring fresh crab meat. The aromatic lemongrass and creamy coconut milk create a fragrant base for this exotic dish.

  • Lemongrass (Item #40013)
  • Coconut Milk (Item #90010)
  • Crab Claw Meat (Item #48203)

Wild Mushroom and Chestnut Bisque

For an earthy and indulgent option, consider a wild mushroom and chestnut bisque. The combination of wild mushrooms and roasted chestnuts delivers a hearty and satisfying flavor profile, perfect for fall.

  • Exotic Sliced Mushrooms (Cremini, Shiitake, Yellow Oyster) (Item #30906)
  • Chestnut Puree (Item #95317)

Spicy Peanut and Sweet Potato Stew

Give your stew a global twist by infusing it with the flavors of West Africa. A spicy peanut and sweet potato stew featuring tender chunks of sweet potatoes, aromatic spices, and a rich peanut butter base will add a touch of adventure to your menu.

  • Sweet Potatoes (Item #99848)
  • Peanut Butter (Item #99291)

Curried Lentil and Pumpkin Soup

Lentils and pumpkin come together in this curried soup that’s both hearty and exotic. The addition of warming spices like curry and turmeric adds depth and complexity to this unexpected combination.

  • Lentils (Item #93808)
  • Tumeric (Item #02268)
  • Curry Powder (Item #97035)

Saffron and White Bean Soup

Elevate your fall soup game with a saffron and white bean soup. Saffron lends a subtle, earthy sweetness to this hearty soup, while tender white beans provide a creamy texture.

  • Saffron (Item #97113)
  • Roasted Vegetable Base (Item #96117)

Miso and Mushroom Hot Pot

Create a comforting hot pot with a twist by incorporating Japanese miso paste and a variety of mushrooms. The umami-rich miso adds depth of flavor, while mushrooms provide a hearty, earthy character.

  • Miso Paste (Item #90020)
  • Konbu (Item #90110)
  • Sesame Oil (Item #90040)

Cabbage Roll Soup

Reimagine the classic stuffed cabbage rolls as a hearty soup. A flavorful broth filled with tender cabbage leaves, ground meat, and rice captures all the essence of this beloved dish in a comforting bowl.

  • Shredded Cabbage (Item #20203)
  • Ground Pork (Item #66630)

Black Bean and Chocolate Chili

For a chili like no other, try infusing it with dark chocolate. The cocoa undertones add a rich, deep complexity to the hearty black bean chili, creating a memorable flavor combination.

  • Belgian dark chocolate (Item #92115)
  • Black Beans (Item #90310)

Spiced Apple and Butternut Squash Soup

Blend sweet, spiced apples with butternut squash for a delightful autumn soup. The combination of apple’s sweetness and squash’s nuttiness creates a perfect balance of flavors.

  • Butternut Squash Cubed (Item #09886)
  • OR Whole Butternut Squash (Item #20616)
  • Nutmeg (Item #97068)

These unique fall soups and stews push the boundaries of traditional flavors and ingredients, offering a delightful departure from the expected. At What Chefs Want, we understand that innovation in the kitchen starts with quality ingredients. Our diverse range of products allows you to explore your culinary creativity and bring unexpected delights to your customers’ plates.

So, why not embrace the spirit of fall by experimenting with these unconventional soups and stews? Your diners will appreciate the bold flavors and unexpected pairings, making every meal a memorable experience.

What Chefs Want Acquires Food Hub ATL, Bringing Food Service Innovation and Jobs to Atlanta 

By | What Chefs Want

What Chefs Want (WCW), headquartered in Louisville, KY, is thrilled to announce its acquisition of the rapidly rising Food Hub ATL. This acquisition, rooted in mutual respect and shared values, aims to shape the future of culinary distribution in Atlanta with a blend of tradition and innovation. 

Since its foundation in 1996, WCW, under the dedicated stewardship of owners, Ron and Mollie Turnier, has been a beacon of change and innovation in the food distribution sector. This acquisition isn’t just a testament to WCW’s growth vision but also an acknowledgment of the remarkable success story of Food Hub ATL. 

“We’re immensely proud to welcome Food Hub ATL into our family,” said Ron Turnier, owner and founder of WCW. “Their rapid ascent in the industry, coupled with a dedication to excellence, complements our ethos. Their dynamic approach will integrate seamlessly with our team and culture.” 

Despite its relatively recent inception in 2020, Food Hub ATL has carved an impressive niche, becoming the go-to source for chefs in Atlanta, Augusta, and Auburn. Their commitment to delivering fresh local meats, produce, and diverse other goods has earned them accolades and respect in the culinary community. 

“We’re thrilled to become part of the What Chefs Want family, where our shared mission, values, and commitment to serving chefs align seamlessly,” said Dan Sowers, founder of Food Hub ATL. “This partnership will enable us to provide an even more comprehensive service offering to our valued customers, leveraging the powerful synergies between our two organizations.” 

With this acquisition, both companies are set for a culinary renaissance. WCW is poised to introduce its premium offerings, including cut steaks, burger patties, and fresh fish, to Food Hub ATL’s clientele. In return, Food Hub ATL’s distinct product portfolio will augment WCW’s extensive array, promising chefs and restaurateurs an even broader spectrum of choices. 

With this acquisition and a future state-of-the-art hub in Atlanta, What Chefs Want plans to bring more than 25 jobs to the Atlanta area in positions including truck drivers (both CDL required and non-CDL positions), receiving, and warehouse workers. Job seekers can fill out an application here: https://www.whatchefswant.com/employment-application/  

About What Chefs Want  

Established in 1996, What Chefs Want has evolved as a culinary powerhouse, dedicated to excellence and innovation. WCW delivers the seven most needed product lines to meet the unique needs of chefs and restaurateurs and boosts restaurant efficiency and providing easy access to superior products, with a unique service model that includes benefits like daily delivery, split cases, no minimums, broadline management, and 24/7 customer support. Serving over 16,000 restaurants with a commitment to local producers, WCW continues to set industry benchmarks.  

For more information about What Chefs Want or the acquisition, visit whatchefswant.com or email marketing@whatchefswant.com   

About Food Hub ATL  

Founded in 2020, Food Hub ATL swiftly emerged as a culinary stalwart in the region. They provide simplified and safe sourcing for local food. Their commitment to quality and agility in addressing the culinary needs of the market has distinguished them as a trusted name in food distribution. Food Hub ATL strives to seek out new technologies that aid in efficiency, transparency, and revenue growth for both farmers and producers, while utilizing capital to impact farms and customers by creating experiences to bring folks together.  

North Country Charcuterie: Where Flavor and Family Converge

By | Appetizers, Beef, Catering, Charcuterie, Gourmet, Hors d'oeuvre, Meats, What Chefs Want

In the heart of Columbus, Ohio, North Country Charcuterie is more than just a business. It’s the result of a genuine love for great food and a shared family endeavor that has taken the form of creating exceptional sausages and cured meats. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Duncan Forbes, North Country Charcuterie’s Salami Monger, to talk about how they got started, how they source and create unique cured meats and what really excites chefs (and retail consumers!) about their products. I dare you to read this without wanting to try each and every one of these products!

Can you share the inspiration behind North Country Charcuterie and your family’s love for food and craftsmanship that led to its creation?

Duncan: “Absolutely. Well, we joke that it’s my brother’s fault. He was a chef for about 10 years in Columbus before we started the company. He developed an interest in cured meats along the way, was working at a couple of kitchens where the chef there was also dabbling. He bought a refrigerator off Craigslist for $150, converted it into a dry curing chamber in his apartment’s mudroom, and started tinkering at home, making bacon, salami, and other cured meats.”

How did you and your mom join the venture?

Duncan: “My mom and brother initially started the company, and I joined about a year later. It all started with conversations over cocktails, as my mom was looking for a change in her career. She wanted to work with James, my brother, and help him start the company. I got involved later, primarily overseeing sales, marketing, and business development.”

Your background is quite different, involving managing experiences and even leading canoeing expeditions. How do these experiences contribute to your unique perspective at North Country Charcuterie?

Duncan: “Oddly enough, all my experiences led me here, and the skill sets I developed works well for what we’re doing. My time in Amsterdam involved setting up an accelerator program for early-stage social enterprises, and that experience meshed with the startup ecosystem we entered when we began. The marketing experience I gained in Colorado and my involvement in sales components in various roles have all been beneficial.

Additionally, my family’s connection to the restaurant industry through our wine distribution company laid the foundation for our interest in restaurants. My grandfather started a wine distribution company in Cleveland, which my father and uncle owned and operated for years, so we grew up alongside the restaurant industry.”

North Country Charcuterie emphasizes the use of locally sourced pork from small Ohio family farms. Can you tell us more about your sourcing practices and why supporting local is essential to your brand?

Duncan: “We source 95% of our ingredients from within a two-hour drive of Columbus. This approach is akin to the concept of ‘terroir’ in winemaking, where the local environment influences the product’s quality. Sourcing locally ensures that all our ingredients, from spices to meat, work harmoniously. It’s also about supporting local businesses and economies while being mindful of our carbon footprint, especially as we expand our reach.”

Your collaboration with other local makers, such as beer and wine, sets you apart. Can you tell us more about these collaborations?

Duncan: “We wanted to use more unique, interesting ingredients to distinguish our offerings rather than just creating another genoa or salami. We wanted to put our stamp on it and that’s where James’ creativity as a chef really shines.

Collaborating with local makers is a key aspect of our products. For example, our Lupo Salami is incredibly unique, combining Russian Imperial Stout and Mexican mole seasoning, creating a distinct flavor profile. The most common reaction when someone tries it is, ‘I’ve never had anything like that’ and that’s how we know we’ve done something right.

The cheese we use in our No. 1 Salami comes from a local dairy, and the wine is sourced from Northeast Ohio. What also makes us different is that we use fresh ingredients—like hand-chopped sage and freshly ground black peppercorns—instead of pre-made spice blends that have been sitting on shelves for years.”

What should chefs know about using North Country products in their dishes?

Duncan: “Don’t be afraid to think outside of the charcuterie board. There are so many ways to use our products. For example, look at our Hoguera Spreadable Chorizo. It has a high fat content, a LOT of flavor and a little goes a long way, so you don’t need to use very much of it. It is great with seafood like mussels or clams and is great to add to a sauce or to use as a flatbread topping.

Our primary differentiator is flavor. Our use of fresh, high-quality ingredients results in superior flavor and freshness. Chefs should know that a little goes a long way with our products. Even though they might be slightly more expensive, they don’t need to use much to make a significant impact. Additionally, our products require less labor, which can balance out any cost concerns.”

North Country Charcuterie is a testament to the dedication to quality, local sourcing, and creative flavors. Duncan’s insights have given us a glimpse into how their family’s passion and diverse experiences have shaped their exceptional products. Duncan is happy to ship samples through What Chefs Want for chefs who are interested in trying the product and he always concludes his calls with an open invitation for chefs to visit their production facility in Columbus.


Find These Items at What Chefs Want

Hoguera Spreadable Chorizo (Item #95069) – 2021 Good Food Awards Finalist! – Best enjoyed on a baguette or added to a favorite Spanish recipe, their Sobrassada hits your tongue with a sultry surprise and fiery finish. Mixed with Hot Paprika, Chipotle and Cayenne, all from North Market Spices (Columbus, Ohio)

Tripel Pigs Salami (Item #03920) – Our most traditional salami with an American twist, subtly flavored with Tripel from Combustion Brewery & Taproom (Pickerington, Ohio).

Fino Salami (Item #03923) – This Finocchiona-style salami is a delicate balance of ground fennel from North Market Spices (Columbus, OH) and minced garlic.

Lupo Salami (Item #03924) – Deep, dark and mysterious, from the furthest reaches of the wild: A Russian Imperial Stout meets Mexican Mole to create a rich, globe-trotting flavor in this collaboration with Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

Rojizo Chorizo (Item #03922) – An intriguing fusion of European traditions and flavors from the Southern hemisphere like Hot Paprika, Cayenne and Chipotle, all from North Market Spices (Columbus, OH). But don’t be afraid, the flavor is stronger than the heat!

Zin Salami – (Item #94066) Where Wine Country meets North Country, we blend old-vine California Zinfandel with premium Ohio pork and seasonings, to create a robust flavor with notes of blackberry and hints of garlic and black pepper, in collaboration with Zanon Wines (Columbus, OH).

No. 1 Salami (Item #03921) – North Country’s richest and creamiest salami, boldly flavored with cheese from Blue Jacket Dairy (Bellefontaine, OH), Chardonnay from Debonnne Vineyards (Madison, OH), chopped garlic and fresh sage.

Herbed Wagyu Bresaola (Item #94498) – 2022 Good Food Awards Winner! Ohio-raised Wagyu Beef eye of round, delicately flavored with a blend of aromatic herbs and spices. Traditionally sliced very thin and served with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice and fresh ground pepper.

Coffee Bacon (Item #00459) – With hints of coffee and a mouthwatering sweetness, no breakfast is complete without their signature bacon, seasoned with ground coffee, brown sugar, salt & pepper.

Staying Ahead of the Catering Curve

By | Appetizers, Catering, Holiday, Paper / To-Go, What Chefs Want

The catering industry is constantly evolving, and staying on top of the latest trends is essential for chefs and catering professionals looking to excel in this competitive field. Here are several catering trends that you can leverage to create memorable experiences for your clients and ensure your business remains at the forefront of the industry. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of these trends and provide insights on how chefs can incorporate them into their catering offerings.

Embracing Health and Wellness

In recent years, there has been a significant shift towards healthier eating habits. Catering to clients who are health-conscious or have dietary restrictions is a trend that continues to grow. Consider offering menu options that cater to various dietary preferences, such as vegan, gluten-free, or keto-friendly dishes. Incorporate fresh, locally sourced ingredients and highlight the nutritional benefits of your offerings.

Sustainable Catering Practices

Sustainability is no longer a buzzword but a necessity in the catering industry. Clients are increasingly looking for eco-friendly catering options. Reduce waste by using reusable or compostable servingware. Source ingredients locally to reduce your carbon footprint. By adopting sustainable practices, you not only appeal to environmentally conscious clients but also contribute to a better future. Not only does What Chefs Want offer sustainable serving options, but we offer locally sourced items, so you can impress your clients and their guests by letting them know exactly where that beef came from or that the squash on their table was harvested from a small family-run farm.

Corn Resin Appetizer Forks (Item #99628) – These petite taster forks are made of corn resin and are environmentally friendly!

Pinewood Boats (Item #98109) – These boat shaped bowls are an elegant way to make a statement at any event. They are available in various sizes and are multi-purpose. The boats can be used either as a serving dish or food display. Made of pinewood, they are biodegradable and disposable.

Bamboo Paddle (Item #98114) – Made of strong, all-natural bamboo, this paddle pick is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic picks and wooden skewers. This bamboo paddle pick provides a perfect utensil to serve hors d’oeuvres, cheeses, and finger foods to guests at your banquet hall or catered event.

Fusion Flavors and Global Cuisine

Catering clients are eager to explore new and exciting flavors from around the world. Consider incorporating fusion cuisine into your offerings, blending different culinary traditions to create unique and delightful dishes. Experiment with international flavors, spices, and cooking techniques to add a global touch to your catering menus.

Regardless of the flavor you want to bring out – check out What Chefs Want for a wide array of global gourmet products.

Interactive Food Stations

One of the most engaging trends in catering is the use of interactive food stations. These stations allow guests to customize their meals, adding an element of fun and personalization to events. From build-your-own taco bars to live cooking demonstrations, interactive stations create memorable experiences that guests will cherish. From steam pans to chafing fuel, we have all the basics covered so you can use your culinary creativity to make a standout experience.

Steam Pan (Item #99586) – These aluminum steam table pans have the strength, durability and economy of aluminum foil, retain temperature and are made of recyclable material. You can find the lids with Item #97972

Chafing Fuel (Item #99396) – We have chafing fuel in multiple counts & sizes. This is the ideal product for extended banquets or catering, burning on average 5.5 hours. Because the fuel is DEG, your cans are cool to the touch and there are no shipping or storage requirements.

Artful Presentation

In the world of catering, presentation is everything. Elevate your catering game by paying special attention to how you present your dishes. Experiment with creative plating techniques, elegant servingware, and eye-catching food displays. Remember that guests eat with their eyes first, so a visually appealing presentation can leave a lasting impression.

Technology Integration

Technology is playing a significant role in catering operations. Use catering software for streamlined event management, online ordering, and client communication. Incorporate digital menu displays and interactive apps to enhance the guest experience. Embracing technology not only improves efficiency but also demonstrates your commitment to staying current.

Personalized Experiences

Every event is unique, and clients appreciate catering services that reflect their individual preferences and themes. Work closely with clients to understand their vision and customize your offerings accordingly. Personalization creates a sense of exclusivity and shows that you go the extra mile to make their event special.

Similarly, What Chefs Want can help you customize your offerings. If you have a client looking for a particular item for their menu that you cannot find, contact your WCW Customer Advocate and we can help source the item for you!

Beverage Pairing and Craft Cocktails

Don’t forget about the beverages! Craft cocktails and beverage pairings are gaining popularity at events. Offer a selection of artisanal cocktails and non-alcoholic options that complement your menu. The right drink pairing can elevate the overall dining experience.

We have everything but the booze for you to create signature cocktails. Learn more in our blog about our bar offerings.

Incorporating these catering trends into your offerings can set your catering business apart this year and beyond. Remember that trends are not one-size-fits-all; it’s essential to adapt them to your unique style and clientele. Staying ahead of the curve in the catering industry requires creativity, flexibility, and a commitment to providing exceptional experiences. By embracing these trends, you’ll be well-positioned to meet the evolving demands of your clients and continue to thrive in the exciting world of catering.

If you’re ready to explore these trends and offer cutting-edge catering services, What Chefs Want is here to support you with high-quality catering equipment, supplies and, of course, fresh products to wow your clientele. Contact us today to learn more about how our products can help you stay competitive in the ever-changing catering landscape.

To make it easy to shop our catering selections, we’ve created a feature list called It’s Wedding Time. Click there to see a curated list of some of our best catering offerings!

Freedom Run Farm Lamb: From Pasture to Plate

By | Grilling Essentials, Meats, What Chefs Want

Valerie Samutin, the founder of Freedom Run Farm, embarked on a remarkable path that took her from the bustling streets of downtown Chicago to the serene pastures of rural Kentucky. Her trajectory was guided by a love for lamb and a determined mission to enhance the culinary experience surrounding this exceptional meat. Unhappy with the quality of lamb available, Valerie decided to take matters into her own hands. What began as a desire to enjoy top-tier lamb evolved into a full-fledged commitment to sustainable agriculture, a steadfast dedication to the renaissance of Kentucky’s lamb industry, and the establishment of Freedom Run Farm. In this interview, Valerie shares the mission behind Freedom Run Farm and what makes Freedom Run Farm lamb so exciting to chefs.

Q: Can you tell us about your journey and how you came to establish Freedom Run Farm?

Valerie: Absolutely. My journey to Freedom Run Farm has been quite an adventure. I set out on a mission to recreate the wonderful roasted lamb meal my husband and I had on our wedding night and to my dismay, we couldn’t find high-quality lamb. This prompted me to embark on a journey of learning about lamb shepherding from the ground up. So, after 25 years of working in downtown Chicago in real estate, we left and started our family farm in Kentucky in 2011. Starting the farm was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I had a desire to create a path to market for fellow shepherds.

Q: What inspired you to bring shepherds together and focus on lamb production?

Valerie: I wondered why lamb wasn’t more popular, and I discovered that 80% of lamb sold in the United States is imported.  It can often be perceived as gamey and lamb production was inconsistent, which didn’t help its reputation. My goal was to build a brand that is committed to a premium eating experience every time, whether its in your home or in your favorite restaurant.  I wanted to create a consistent, high-quality lamb product, so I embarked on a journey with farm-to-table chefs to develop a specification that would make chefs EXCITED about lamb.

Q: Can you tell us about the specifications you developed for Freedom Run Farm lamb?

Valerie: We begin an 18-month product development process with committed chefs, going back-and-forth about various breeds, grow out weights, finishing rations, etc. We knew we hit the jackpot when chefs across the board kept talking about what are now our specifications: great taste, marbleization, and generous portion size. We create these specifications by using our Appalachian heritage breed, committing to sustainable farming, and our unique finishing program. The result is a consistently high-quality and delicious lamb that chefs love.

This really is the lamb that chefs want, because they helped create it.

Our culinary-centric focus sets us apart. We aim to provide a great dining experience every time someone enjoys our lamb.

Q: How do you make lamb more approachable for diners, especially those who may find it intimidating?

Valerie: Its surprising how many people have never tried lamb but think they don’t like it, or they had a bad experience with a lesser quality product. Lamb can be introduced in various ways, and ground lamb is an excellent gateway. It’s as simple to cook as a great steak. Other options include lamb patties for burgers, lamb tartare, or incorporating ground lamb into dishes like lasagna.

I like to think of lamb as a little black dress. You can dress it up for fancy dinner party, for example, our racks, or it can be down-home barbecue in the back yard style, like our bluegrass ribs or smoked lamb shoulder. It is incredibly versatile, and the flavor range is rich, luxurious, and actually a bit decadent, like a good piece of dark chocolate can be!


You can find Freedom Run Farm lamb on the What Chefs Want website and app by searching Freedom Run. You can also search these popular lamb items by their codes below:

  • Bluegrass Lamb Ribs – Item #62510
  • Ground Lamb – Item #62538 
  • Lamb Leg Deboned – Item #62505
  • Lamb Foreshank – Item #62514
  • Whole Lamb – Item #62500  

Q: How does sustainability play a role in the taste and quality of Freedom Run Farm lamb?

Valerie: Sustainability is closely tied to our lamb’s taste and quality. Our sheep are raised in a natural environment, which reduces stress and contributes to the excellent taste. They graze on diverse pastures, and sustainable practices help maintain the health of the land, resulting in a premium product.

We have a partnership with Land to Market based on regenerative agricultural practices. It provides a measurable way to document sustainability efforts. We believe lamb is one of the most sustainable proteins, and our commitment to this approach ensures the well-being of our land, family, and flock.

With the vertical integration of our own processing facility 2 years ago, we have final quality assurance from the pasture all the way to the plate now.

Q: How has the collaborative process with chefs contributed to the success of Freedom Run Farm?

Valerie: Collaboration with chefs has been a vital part of our success. Chefs helped create our lamb specifications, and their input remains essential. We want them to feel empowered and part of our program’s success.

The most rewarding aspect of this journey has been seeing the positive impact our program has on families and communities. We’re focused on making sure we have a living wage for our shepherds but do our best to keep prices for chefs and consumers as low and competitive as possible. I want to keep it affordable because the more people eating great lamb the better!

Knowing that we are supporting local shepherds, providing a premium product that chefs love, and contributing to sustainable agriculture is incredibly fulfilling. It’s a journey that brings together passion, quality, and a shared commitment to excellence.

Q: What are your goals for the future of Freedom Run Farm?

Valerie: Our Freedom Run Farm consortium was born in Kentucky, but now has grown to source from multiple regions throughout the U.S. Our goal is to keep growing our program and reaching more regions. As our program grows, we aim to work with more shepherds who share our commitment to quality and sustainability.

We want to continue providing a consistent, high-quality product while ensuring that shepherds are paid a living wage. We’re passionate about making great lamb accessible to as many people as possible.

Go check out the Freedom Run Farm website for amazing lamb recipe inspiration.

Standing Out with Center of the Plate Options

By | Beef, Grilling Essentials, Meats, Pork, Seafood, What Chefs Want

As a chef, your creativity knows no bounds when it comes to crafting unique and unforgettable dishes. To help you take your culinary creations to the next level, we’ve gathered a selection of ingredients from What Chefs Want and shared some ideas to help you think of these ingredients in a new way. Let’s explore how you can incorporate these exceptional ingredients into your menu to inspire and delight your customers while discovering their unique qualities.

16 oz. Bone-in Kansas City Strip (Item #05573)

Unique Preparation Idea: “Savory Bone Marrow Butter”

Let’s begin with the 16 oz. Bone-in Kansas City Strip, a prime cut that boasts unparalleled tenderness and taste. Aged to perfection for an average of 28 days, this steak offers a depth of flavor that’s revered by chefs worldwide. What sets it apart is the bone, which remains intact, infusing the meat with a richer, deeper flavor cherished by steak lovers everywhere.

To celebrate this exceptional steak, try creating a “Savory Bone Marrow Butter.” Roast the bone until the marrow is rich and luscious, then whip it into softened butter, adding fresh herbs and a touch of lemon zest for brightness. Serve a dollop on top of a perfectly grilled Kansas City Strip to elevate the flavor profile and provide a melt-in-your-mouth experience.

Laguna Blanca Salmon Fillet (COMING SOON!)

Unique Preparation Idea: “Patagonian Salmon Crostini with Avocado Cream”

Our next stop takes us to Region XII Magallanes in Patagonia, where the Laguna Blanca Salmon Fillet hails from. This antibiotic-free salmon stands out for its eco-friendliness, produced with notably less impact on the wild fish population, and is BAP and ASC certified. The Laguna Blanca salmon is raised on an algae diet which ensures it is a rich source of omega-3s, making it not only delicious but also healthy. This salmon offers exceptional quality for its price.

To showcase the unique qualities of this salmon, consider preparing “Patagonian Salmon Crostini with Avocado Cream.” Start by gently searing thin slices of the salmon fillet to highlight its buttery texture. Then, serve the salmon atop crostini spread with a silky avocado cream, garnished with microgreens and a drizzle of lemon-infused olive oil. This elegant and fresh dish highlights the salmon’s impeccable quality and its eco-friendly origin, making it a delightful addition to your menu.

8oz Creekstone Burger Patties (Item #00258)

Unique Preparation Idea: “Balsamic Glazed Bacon Burger”

Our culinary adventure now turns to the 8oz Creekstone Burger Patties. These all-natural patties come from humanely-raised, vegetarian-fed cattle, and they are free from antibiotics, hormones, additives, and artificial ingredients. What sets them apart beyond just the quality of the beef, is the high-tech patty machine we use in-house to create the patties, which guarantees a tender, handcrafted bite every time.

To create a gourmet burger experience, try a “Balsamic Glazed Bacon Burger.” Brush these all-natural patties with a balsamic glaze while grilling, then top them with crispy bacon, caramelized onions, and creamy goat cheese. Serve on a toasted brioche bun for a burger that’s a testament to quality and craftsmanship.

16 oz. Centercut Pork Loin Chop (Item #05680)

Unique Preparation Idea: “Porterhouse Pork with Apple Chutney”

Our next destination is the 16 oz. Centercut Pork Loin Chop. This exquisite cut captivates guests with its presentation while remaining affordable. The center-cut porterhouse blends loin and tenderloin for an elevated dining experience. Expertly carved in-house daily, this chop promises both luxury and value.

To create a conversation starter on your menu, prepare “Porterhouse Pork with Apple Chutney.” Grill the center-cut pork loin chop to perfection and serve it with a side of homemade apple chutney. The sweet and tangy chutney complements the savory pork, creating a delightful contrast of flavors that makes your guests feel they’re dining at a five-star establishment.

Red Grouper, Skin-on Fillet (Item #48046)

Unique Preparation Idea: “Citrus-Herb Grouper en Papillote”

Our journey now takes us to the world of seafood with the Red Grouper, Skin-on Fillet. This fillet is part of our Boat Direct Program, which champions small fishermen and ensures a 48-hour delivery from catch to you. Managed sustainably against overfishing, it’s heralded as a ‘Good Alternative’ by Seafood Watch.

To make the most of this clean-eating fish, try “Citrus-Herb Grouper en Papillote.” Wrap the red grouper fillet in parchment paper with slices of citrus, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil. Steam it to perfection, allowing the flavors to meld inside the pouch. The result is a clean, flavorful, and visually stunning dish that showcases the grouper’s delicate taste.

Shrimp 16/20 PD Tail-on (Item #48642)

Unique Preparation Idea: “Saffron and Garlic Shrimp Risotto”

Our final destination is the Shrimp 16/20 PD Tail-on, peeled and deveined to retain their elegant tails. These raw shrimp are known for their versatility, consistently delighting guests across a range of dishes.

To showcase these shrimp, consider preparing a “Saffron and Garlic Shrimp Risotto.” Incorporate the succulent shrimp into a creamy saffron and garlic risotto. The shrimp’s natural sweetness and elegant presentation with tails intact will impress your diners, making this dish a standout on your menu.

With these premium ingredients from What Chefs Want, you have the opportunity not only to create exceptional dishes but also to share their unique stories and features with your customers.

To make your menu shine and get the most bang for your buck, talk to your customer advocate. They’re experts at enhancing your existing center-of-the-plate offerings. Whether you’re looking to add variety, improve value, or simply elevate your menu, they’ve got you covered. It’s all about aligning our premium products with your unique menu needs to create delightful dining experiences. Don’t miss out—reach out to them today and let’s make your menu even more amazing!

Bourbon Barrel Foods: Distinctive Flavors, One Ingredient at a Time

By | Asian, Gourmet, Local, Local and Specialty, What Chefs Want

Imagine a world where every bite is a flavorful adventure, where craftsmanship meets culinary creativity. That’s the essence of Bourbon Barrel Foods. In this blog, we’ll dive into a variety of artisanal products that have become kitchen essentials for chefs and food enthusiasts. From their unique soy sauce with a smoky twist to hand-harvested paprika with a fiery kick, each ingredient is an invitation to savor quality and authenticity. Join us as we uncover the delicious journey of Bourbon Barrel Foods, led by its founder, Matt Jamie, where passion and dedication are the secret ingredients to every culinary masterpiece.

Can you start by sharing your origin story and what led you to found Bourbon Barrel Foods?

Matt Jamie: I dropped out of graduate school in Florida. Up until that point, cooking was just a hobby that I enjoyed, so once I dropped out, I got a job in a kitchen. It was then that I realized that this hobby was actually a passion and that I was good at it.

I wanted to stay in the food industry but knew I wouldn’t be a career chef. I knew I wanted to create something unique and craft-inspired. In the early 2000s there was a movement in the industry to bring things back to a more artisanal approach. People wanted to know where their food comes from, who’s making it, how it’s made and that it’s crafted with care. I wanted to be a part of that.

I thought of making soy sauce, but I wasn’t sure if anyone had done it before. After researching and finding no one was making small-batch soy sauce in the US, I decided to go for it. I taught myself how and started making soy sauce in my basement.

Where did the bourbon component come in?

I saw the parallels between brewing soy sauce and making bourbon, both in process and history, and knew it was a great idea, especially with the growing interest in bourbon in the state of Kentucky. Everything just aligned and I knew right away that we could become the gourmet foods component of the bourbon experience.

How has What Chefs Want been a part of your journey?

One of the very first conversations I had about creating soy sauce was in the old Creation Gardens down on Washington Street. I talked to some of the guys there and they loved the idea. And it just, you know, was just one of those moments that I remember in the development of the product where I could tell that chefs would really embrace it. Your team has been great about coming in and learning about my products. You’ve helped me tell my story and the story of these products in different parts of the country where you’re now distributing products and in doing so, you help us to grow.

How important is sourcing local ingredients to and how does that align with your commitment to quality?

There is a lot of effort that goes into the sourcing of our ingredients, because I think, now more than ever, it’s important to people to know where my raw materials are coming from, and how they’re grown. That goes into the story that we like to tell about each and every product.

For example, our Bourbon Barrel Smoked Paprika, the paprika is harvested by hand in New Mexico. One time we had a chef ask us specifically where our paprika came from, and our distributer at the time couldn’t even pinpoint the country it came from, and that wasn’t good enough for us. Now I can tell you exactly the family-owned farm that it comes from, and how it was hand-picked, dried and shipped to me. I can tell you that our sea salt is domestically harvested and solar-evaporated from the Pacific Northwest, and I’ve visited both.

I’ve been working with the same grower for 15 years on our Bourbon Barrel Aged Pure Cane Sorghum. It’s grown in Eastern Kentucky in Menifee County by a fifth-generation farmer. It is harvested by hand and processed on the farm.

I know exactly where the soybeans, the wheat, and the water that go into our Bluegrass Soy Sauce come from. I have a relationship with the farmer. We use only Kentucky-grown, non-GMO soybeans, soft red winter wheat, and the purest limestone filtered Kentucky spring water for our soy sauce.


And Matt does focus on the stories and sources behind each of his craft products! If you visit the website, each product description features the details that make each of these products so special.

Bourbon Barrel Foods Bluegrass Soy Sauce has been featured on Bizarre Foods America, America’s Heartland and How It’s Made. It has also been featured in The New York Times, Southern Living, Food & Dining and Garden & Gun.

What Chefs Want is delivering these Bourbon Barrel Foods favorites to your door. Order here.

Blue Grass Soy Sauce (item #96153)- Bourbon Barrel’s soy sauce is microbrewed in small batches using only whole Kentucky grown Non-GMO soybeans, soft red winter wheat, and the purest limestone filtered Kentucky spring water. They ferment and age the soy bean mash in re-purposed bourbon barrels. It’s smoky and brothy with hints of oak and a mild sweetness reminiscent of fine Kentucky bourbon.

Kentuckyaki (item #22650)- Kentuckyaki is teriyaki sauce made Kentucky-Style. That’s right, we’ve added a splash of Kentucky Bourbon for extra flavor! This all-natural sauce is sweetened with Kentucky-grown sorghum and flavored with fresh garlic and ginger. It’s rich, robust and packed with umami, adding complex flavors to anything it touches. Use Kentuckyaki as a marinade on salmon, beef, and chicken, add to stir-fry, or use it as a dipping sauce!

Small Batch Bourbon Ponzu (item #97118)- Small Batch Bourbon Ponzu is a combination of Bluegrass Soy Sauce, all natural fresh lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, and a hint of Kentucky bourbon. With the perfect balance of salty and sweet this vibrant sauce adds citrus elements perfect for dumplings and sushi. The clean and refreshing flavors are great for making salad dressings, seasoning fresh vegetables, or marinating fish, pork, poultry, and beef.

Worcestershire Sauce (item #96121)- Bourbon Barrel Aged Worcestershire Sauce is a unique take on the traditional all-purpose sauce. Bourbon Barrel Aged Worcestershire is sweetened with sorghum, blended with pure Kentucky limestone spring water, and mellowed in bourbon barrels that were used to age some of the Bluegrass State’s finest Bourbons. It is all-natural and vegetarian, as it does not contain anchovies. Try our Worcestershire Sauce on eggs, in a Bloody Mary and especially in a burger!

Bourbon Smoked Paprika (item #97082)- Bourbon Smoked Paprika is domestically harvested and handpicked from a family owned farm in New Mexico. Slow smoked all by hand in small batches, using bourbon barrel staves, this mild paprika is vibrant in color and flavor. It’s unique, smoky flavor and aroma will bring your dishes to life! Sprinkle with poultry, fish, and vegetables, add to soups, sauces, and marinades! Its a staff favorite on popcorn and a summer staple for corn on the cob!

Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt (item #96002)- Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt is pure, solar-evaporated and domestically harvested from the Pacific Ocean. The large crystals are slow smoked in small batches by hand, using repurposed bourbon barrel staves.  Our all-natural Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt is very versatile, adding rich, smoky flavor to a wide variety of foods.  It’s an ideal choice for everything from burgers and red meat to poultry and vegetables.

Bourbon Smoked Pepper (item #97093)- Bourbon Smoked Pepper is a quarter cracked Malabar pepper that is slow-smoked using barrel staves that once held some of Kentucky’s finest bourbon. Packed with smoky flavor and aroma, our Bourbon Smoked Pepper is pungent and biting. Season on a burger, steak or any vegetable of your choice!

Bourbon Smoked Sesame Seeds (item #44553)- Bourbon Smoked Sesame Seeds are smoked low and slow using the oak from bourbon barrel staves. The slow smoking process boasts a rich earthy, nutty flavor, with delicate oak undertones that make Bourbon Smoked Sesame Seeds delicious on salads, bread, and seasonings on meat and seafood.

Bourbon Smoked Togarashi (item #90127) – A traditional Japanese seven-spice blend with an added “bourbon barrel” twist! We begin with a foundation of Bourbon Smoked Pepper and add Bourbon Smoked Sesame Seeds along with nori, mustard, and poppy seeds to create an exotic flavor experience with a hint of subtle smokiness! Bourbon Smoked Togarashi is delicious on all meats, seafood, and vegetables. Check out our “Recipes” tab to try some of our favorite and creative ways to use this peppery blend, including our beloved Togarashi Caramel Corn!

Bourbon Smoked Sugar (item #97222)- Bourbon Smoked Sugar is raw demerara sugar that is slow-smoked with repurposed bourbon barrel staves. It has sweet caramel flavors and the richness of smoked oak. Bourbon Smoked Sugar is perfect mixed in a spice rub or barbecue sauce and thrown on the grill, or use it with the sweet stuff – fruit crisps, pies, cookies and cocktails.

Bourbon Smoked Cacao & Barrel Aged Coffee Bean Dark Chocolate (item #93511)- This dark chocolate bar is blended with 100% Bourbon Barrel Aged Arabica coffee beans and Bourbon Smoked Cacao Nibs. Each bite is both bitter and sweet and full of the subtle notes of the bourbon barrel from the Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffee Beans and Bourbon Smoked Cacao Nibs.

Pure Cane Sorghum (item #93535)- Sorghum Syrup was a staple in southern households in the days before refined sugar became available. Our Bourbon Barrel Aged Pure Cane (“Sweet”) Sorghum is estate grown by a fifth-generation farmer in Eastern Kentucky. It is harvested by hand and then aged in a bourbon barrel to draw out the intensity of flavors. This all-natural sweetener is a favorite of chefs and adds an earthiness and hint of spice that other sweeteners cannot provide. We love adding a drizzle of Bourbon Barrel Aged Sorghum with a sprinkle of pepper over local goat cheese or serving as a condiment to an artisan cheese tray.


With so much remarkable growth, how has your facility evolved?

It’s been a luxury that we’ve been able to grow at the same address for 15 years of the 17 years we’ve been in business. We are in the Butchertown area of Louisville, which is full of character and charm.

I started in this building at 900 square feet, and we’re 47,000 square feet now. We’ve just gone through renovations the last three years. We have separate areas now for brewing the soy sauce, smoking and packaging and fulfillment. And now we have an event space that I’m in the process of finishing. It should be done by the middle of this month and will be part of our tour experience. There’s a lot of unique visitors coming to the city who want the bourbon experience and this will be a unique part of that.

As an entrepreneur, what would you say to other entrepreneurs who are about to take a leap into something like this?

Ultimately, if you have a passion for what it is that you are doing, you’ve got to take that step. Sometimes you get caught up in the inability to make a decision for whatever reason, you know, you’re a little hesitant, a little afraid, but you need to take that step.

I had a blind passion, and I think that if you have that, then all those other things go away. But you’ve got to just start doing it. A true entrepreneur doesn’t see things as problems. They see things as obstacles, and you can surmount an obstacle. You can go through it, over it, around it, and I think that’s kind of the fun for me. There is no reason to stress about something happening. Its more about ‘how am I going to navigate this.’


In the world of Bourbon Barrel Foods, flavors come to life in every bite. As we wrap up our chat with Matt Jamie, the brains behind this culinary journey, it’s clear that sourcing is the heartbeat of their delicious creations. From New Mexico’s hand-harvested paprika to the Pacific Northwest’s sun-soaked sea salt, every ingredient tells a tale of quality and authenticity. Bourbon Barrel Foods isn’t just about making gourmet products; it’s about celebrating the roots and relationships that infuse every bite with flavor. Whether you’re a chef looking to up your game or a food lover on a taste adventure, Bourbon Barrel Foods invites you to explore their delectable offerings. Because when it comes to crafting exceptional flavors, it’s all about passion and dedication.

Fall into Flavor: Inspiring Autumn Recipes with What Chefs Want

By | Gourmet, Local, Local and Specialty, Meats, Produce, Vegetables, What Chefs Want

As the scorching summer sun continues to blaze, it’s hard not to daydream about cooler days ahead. While we’re still reaching for iced beverages and sunscreen, our minds are already drifting to the comforts of fall: football games, our favorite sweaters, and, of course, those irresistible fall flavors that define the season. Though the weather might be hot, our anticipation for the culinary delights that autumn brings is even hotter. So, grab a glass of iced tea, kick back in the shade, and let’s explore the mouthwatering fall recipes to inspire your menus and warm our hearts.

Freedom Run Farm Lamb Chili with Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans and Poblanos

From Freedom Run Farm

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground American lamb (item #62538)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder seasoning
  • 2 1/2 cups lamb stock, such as Saffron Road, or low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large sweet potato (about 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • optional toppings: chopped cilantro leaves, lime wedges, diced avocado, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Add the lamb and break it up into chunks. Stir in the onion, poblano, and garlic and sauté until the excess water evaporates, the lamb is browned, and the vegetables are very soft and begin to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the chile powder and cook about 30 seconds. Stir in the stock, tomatoes and their juices, 2 teaspoons of salt, and a big pinch of pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot, and cook for 30 minutes at a gentle simmer.

Uncover the pot and stir in the sweet potatoes and beans. Continue simmering until the sweet potatoes are tender and the flavors come together, about 30 minutes more. For a thick chili, leave the pot uncovered at this point, or partially cover for a soupier consistency.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve the chili topped with any of the optional garnishes.


Alfresco Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Inspired by Alfresco Artisan Pastas

Ingredients:

  • Alfresco Butternut Squash Ravioli (item #95698)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
  • coarse salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 3-4 extra fresh sage leaves for garnish if desired

Directions:

Butternut Squash Ravioli

While cooking ravioli, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently and swirling the pot to ensure even cooking. After about 5 minutes, the butter will start to foam up. Add the minced sage and continue stirring the pot. Golden brown flecks, milk solids, should start to form on the bottom of the pan. Continue stirring to make sure these don’t stick and burn. When the butter is nutty in aroma and golden brown in color with plenty of flecks, about 2 more minutes, remove from heat and cool for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the broth and whisk frequently, as the butter will foam up, until completely incorporated. Repeat this process with the cream.

Add the lemon juice and parmesan cheese, whisking until completely combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Gently stir in the cooked ravioli. Garnish with extra parmesan cheese.


Bourbon Smoked Curry Roasted Carrots

From Bourbon Barrel Foods

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds small/medium carrots, peeled and sliced down the middle
  • 3 tablespoons, olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Bourbon Smoked Curry Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt, more to taste (item #96026)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bourbon Smoked Pepper (item #97165)
  • 1 tablespoon of Bourbon Barrel Aged Sorghum (item #93514)
  • parsley or seasonal herbs for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Toss carrots with olive oil, Bourbon Smoked Curry Powder, Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt and Bourbon Smoked Pepper in a large bowl until fully coated.

Spread evenly on baking sheet.

Place in the oven to roast, stirring with a rubber spatula a few times to prevent sticking and burning, until desired tenderness, 30-35 minutes. Remove carrots from oven and drizzle with sorghum or maple syrup directly on the baking sheet.

Taste and add more salt, pepper if desired and garnish with fresh herbs.


Soy Honey Garlic Chicken Wings

From Cin Soy Foods

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Black pepper
  • Soy sauce salt
  • Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup CinSoy soy sauce (item #26702)
  • 6 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 inch ginger – minced
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp Sesame seeds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and pat chicken wings dry.

Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Toss the chicken wings in the spice mixture. Lay out on a foil lined baking sheet topped with a rack.

Bake for about 45 minutes (flipping halfway) – or until wings are golden brown and fully cooked.

Meanwhile – in a small saucepan – cook ginger and garlic in butter. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer and thicken for 3-4 minutes.

Remove wings from the oven and toss in the sauce. Put back in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Enjoy!


Remember chefs, when it comes to crafting your fall menus, What Chefs Want has you covered. From farm-fresh, local ingredients to artisanal delights, we’ve got everything you need to make your autumn culinary creations truly spectacular. So, as we bid adieu to summer’s heat, let’s welcome fall’s delicious chill (and chili!) with open arms and open kitchens. Click here to place your order!

The Artistry and Inspiration Behind Sequatchie Cove Creamery’s Unique Cheeses

By | Charcuterie, Cheese, Dairy, Gourmet, Gourmet Cheese, Local, What Chefs Want

Nathan and Padgett Arnold, founders of Sequatchie Cove Creamery in southeast Tennessee, are the driving forces behind an artisanal cheese venture that encapsulates passion, creativity, and a profound connection to the land. Their journey into the world of cheesemaking is a captivating tale of love, innovation, and dedication to preserving the essence of their region. From humble beginnings to becoming an award-winning creamery, the Arnolds’ story unfolds as a testament to the transformative power of inspiration, both local and global. Through their intricate process of crafting unique cheeses, the Arnolds pay homage to their surroundings while embracing flavors and techniques from around the world. Join us as we talk with Padgett Arnold and delve into the narrative of Sequatchie Cove Creamery.

What led to the creation of Sequatchie Cove Creamery? How did the idea to start making cheese originate for you and Nathan?

Padgett: We took a unique path from our original backgrounds. Back at the University of Georgia, I was studying horticulture with the aim of becoming a specialist in edible crops. Nathan and I connected through shared interests and found ourselves working at Crabtree Farms, an urban farm with a strong commitment to sustainable agriculture and community access to food. This was during the late 90s in Chattanooga.

During that time, we met the Keeners, and Nathan joined them at Sequatchie Cove Farm to grow their produce program in 2003, while I remained at Crabtree. While Nathan was at Sequatchie Cove, he became increasingly drawn to working with the farm’s animals and exploring ways to add value to the operation.

The question arose: How can we create sustainable livelihoods for multiple families on this small farm while meshing well with its existing enterprises? The notion of cheese came into play, along with the concept of adding value to the farm. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation, but that’s the journey that brought us here.

Let’s delve into your sources of inspiration. Where did you find the creative spark for Sequatchie Cove Creamery?

In 2004, a trip to Italy left a lasting mark on us. At an international farming and food festival, we were exposed to a diverse array of foods that planted the seeds of inspiration. It was there that we encountered new cheeses, particularly French alpine varieties.

There was a period that Nathan was traveling a lot, making contacts through the American Cheese Society and learning as much as he could through these contacts. He also studied cheesemaking in France, which became a huge source of inspiration for our own creations. He adapted the unique techniques and essence of those French cheeses and blended them with the distinct character of Tennessee’s Sequatchie region.

Cheese making is both scientific and artistic. It’s not just a wheel of cheese, it’s a work of art. Our cheeses have aesthetic appeal that resonates, particularly among chefs.

Ok, let’s talk about these cheeses. Take me through them and what makes them so special.

Cumberland

Our first cheese, the Cumberland, is a simple and rustic Tomme, inspired by the French Tomme de Savoie. It offers buttery and earthy flavors, complemented by a tangy grassy note and subtle hints of macadamia nut. Chefs love its versatility – it can be grated onto pizza, used as a substitute for gruyere, Havarti, or cheddar, and it’s even “kid friendly.” Its natural rind boasts a distinctive gray and white spotted appearance that makes a statement on a cheese board. With a long shelf life, it’s very kitchen friendly as well.

Search Item #91165 

Coppinger

Coppinger is our top-selling cheese and demand is really driving production. Demand has been going up and up.

It is a Southern take on the classic French Morbier, Coppinger is a semi-soft washed rind cheese with a striking layer of decorative vegetable ash in its center. The velvety elastic paste is savory with notes of fresh grass and smoked meats, making it ideal for the cheese plate or melted into any dish.

This is a another very versatile cheese and it blends well with a lot of flavors Try it melted on a burger or as the ultimate grilled cheese; it’s also great as a substitute for raclette.

There is a bit of an education curve here with Coppinger, and people sometimes think with the ash line, that this is blue cheese. It is not. That unique line through the center is an ash line, that doesn’t change the flavor at all. Beyond being visually interesting, the ash line mellows out the tanginess and smooths out the finish.

Chefs are drawn to the Coppinger for its visual appeal and versatility.

Search Item #91166 

Shakerag Blue

Shakerag Blue was just recently added to the What Chefs Want offering, so it is now available to your customers!

Shakerag Blue’s colorful name is derived from both the beautiful Shakerag Hollow known for its wildflowers and rich moonshining past.

It is a crumbly yet dense, blue-veined cheese wrapped in local fig leaves which have been soaked in Chattanooga Whiskey. It matures gradually in our cool room and the slow ripening process yields a mellower flavor profile and creamier texture. The flavor isn’t overpowering, it is much more delicate, in fact, often people who don’t enjoy blue cheese, enjoy Shakerag Blue. It crumbles well for salads and steaks and deserves a prime spot on the cheese board.

I am actually the one who harvests the fig leaves to wrap this cheese. We store them in food-grade buckets, submerged in whiskey until we are ready to wrap the cheese. The fig leaf wrapping does mean that our scalability is limited by leaf availability. Occasionally, we experience production pauses as we await the readiness of fig leaves.

It is a very labor-intensive process, but the chefs go nuts for it.

Search Item #91934

As you continue to grow, how do you intend to maintain the authenticity and community-centered approach that has been integral to your creamery’s success?

It is important to us to be connected to agricultural raw materials. We never want to lose that local touchpoint.

Right now we are sourcing our milk from the only surviving dairy in the Sequatchie Valley. We really see our role as we grow as being about the cheese itself, but also about growing and supporting dairy in the region. We want to turn the ship around for the farmers – and the more we are able to grow, the more we are able to buy from the local farmers, making dairy farming a viable option for new farmers in the area.  

What would your advice be to someone just starting out?

Learn everything from people who can teach you. Really. Seek a mentor and learn as much as you can before you just jump in.  Start with a narrow focus. Study and understand someone else’s successful enterprise.  Fortunately for us, this industry has been a supportive and inclusive atmosphere and we’ve had people very enthusiastically cheering us on, but it is not an easy path.