Category

Local and Specialty

Bridging the Gap Between Local Farmers, Producers and Chefs with Local Food Connection

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

Meet Anna Haas, a driving force behind What Chefs Want’s Local Food Connection program. With a knack for forging bonds between farmers and chefs and a bold vision for revolutionizing local food systems, Anna has played a pivotal role in shaping the direction of Local Food Connection these last few years. As the program director for local foods, Anna is dedicated to empowering farmers and cultivating strong community ties. Keep an eye on the Local Food Connection Program as it grows in each of the regions that What Chefs Wants serves!

Join us as we ask about the beginnings of Local Food Connection, Anna’s insights, and the transformative impact of the What Chefs Want program on the local food landscape, starting in the Midwest and building beyond.


By the way … Great local food depends on continuing to build our partnerships with other local food advocates. If reading this reminds you of a program or a producer you know, contact our WOW Center and let them know to pass it on to Local Food Connection!


Q: Can you share how Local Food Connection got started?

Anna: Absolutely. It all began around 2014 when Alice Chalmers moved from the DC area to Cincinnati, Ohio. She was passionate about sustainable agriculture, preserving green spaces and building local. She and her friends and colleagues were intrigued by the concept of food hubs, which led to discussions about building one, which Alice decided to do in her new area.. She was also intrigued by the relationship between health and food, viewing food as medicine and recognizing the superior nutritional value of freshly harvested produce.

Alice launched Local Food Connection (originally known as Ohio Valley Food Connection) in 2015. This was the culmination of so many months reaching out extensively to farms and food businesses across the local foodshed, developing her business plan based on community needs, and eventually bringing in a refrigerated Sprinter van to kickstart her venture.

Q: What did this food hub do?

Anna: So essentially, the focus at that time revolved around establishing a distribution system that could connect local farms capable of supplying fresh produce with buyers through existing food hub software platforms. This system operates by allowing farms to list their available produce still in the ground, which buyers can purchase directly through the software. Once an order is received, typically on Wednesday night, the farmer promptly harvests the requested items within 12 hours, ensuring they are fresh and packed specifically for the client, complete with personalized labels detailing the contents.

Q: What were the early challenges faced by Local Food Connection?

Anna: Distribution for small food producers was a major hurdle in the Ohio Valley area of southwestern Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and southeastern Indiana—like it still is in many places. While there was interest from both farmers and buyers, bridging the gap between them was tough without a reliable distribution system. Additionally, building relationships with restaurants and educating them about the benefits of local, just-harvested produce was crucial. Like most business owners launching a new venture, Alice faced setbacks, like the refrigerated van breaking down on our first day of operation, highlighting the complexities of distribution from the get-go.

Q: How did you evolve over time?

Anna: Despite the initial challenges, we saw rapid growth that enabled me to join the team, then others. By 2016, the hub’s second summer, we were already expanding our operations. We rented cooler storage spaces, collaborated with an incubator kitchen, and formed partnerships with other food hubs. Our focus remained on connecting local farms with buyers while ensuring the freshest produce reached consumers’ plates.

Q: What role did partnerships play in the growth of Local Food Connection?

Anna: Partnerships were instrumental in scaling our operations. In 2017, we collaborated with the sustainability non-profit Green Umbrella, and another food hub, securing USDA support via a local food promotion grant. This partnership aimed to utilize the infrastructure of both organizations to facilitate sales to institutions and was especially crucial in launching our farm-to-school program.

For instance, we were able to partner with the University of Kentucky at a strategic moment, amidst community demand for more Kentucky produce to help fulfill agreements in their dining contract. We successfully collaborated with them to introduce a new local program featuring salad bars with Kentucky-grown produce from six small farms. UK committed to a year of twice-weekly seasonal purchases, and we worked with participating farms to tailor their production accordingly. This partnership marked a significant milestone as one of our key clients, propelling our efforts to new heights.

To read more about the UK local program check out this link.

The other major partnership that took Local Food Connection to the next level was Cincinnati Public Schools. CPS signed on to the Good Food Purchasing Program and this is where we first partnered with What Chefs Want to provide the CPS system with something different from what other distributers were offering. Other distributors could say, “We buy local (generally) and will get it to you,” with programs that I like to call “lip-service local.” But we could say, “Hey, we’re able to tell you which farm this produce came from. This one’s organic, that one’s a small business, and this one’s just 34 miles away.” We could trace every veggie right back to its roots. And by our food hub partnering with What Chefs Want, a customer wouldn’t have to just stick to local in their order. They could still get bananas and oranges through What Chefs Want in the same delivery. Suddenly every farm’s possible footprint vastly multiplied and so much more became possible. I have to say – I’m especially excited about the potential here for farm-to-school and farm-to-institution in other states where I’m just now starting to learn more.

What role does education play in Local Food Connection?

Anna: We are listeners first – listeners to our producers and our customers. We have really tried to create a system that works for those at both ends–local food production and buying–and in doing so, we educate along the way.

We educate buyers on what they can buy that is a best fit for their type of enterprise, how to menu plan for seasonal local produce, and the stories behind their local food purchases. We educate producers on food safety certifications that they need and how to know what to grow.  We take a lot of the work off their plates when it comes to figuring out what a retailer wants versus a restaurant versus a school and how to get it to everyone. We can start small and scale when they are ready. This allows us to work with small producers and help them build and grow with us.

Q: How did Local Food Connection maintain its values amidst growth and expansion?

Anna: In 2019, Local Food Connection became a part of What Chefs Want. After four years, the increasing demand for our local food initiatives made it evident that independently developing and managing a fleet of trucks, securing and setting up a new warehouse, among other tasks, was impractical. Especially considering that What Chefs Want already had these resources available just a short distance away.

Our commitment to supporting local farmers and providing fresh, nutritious produce never wavered. As we grew, we ensured that our systems prioritized transparency and sustainability. Educating buyers about seasonality, sourcing locally whenever possible, and advocating for fair prices for farmers remained at the core of our mission.

Because WCW already had a strong local program around its headquarters in Kentucky, we felt like our work became turbo-charged as we joined forces.  LFC plus WCW instantly expanded our team to include individuals with diverse backgrounds in food systems, distribution, and sales. This allowed us to better manage logistics, coordinate with farmers and buyers, and ensure the quality and safety of our products. We also invested in technology to streamline operations and improve efficiency, though that journey just continues as we grow into new markets and the food system changes, too.

Q: What sets Local Food Connection apart from other food hub programs?

Anna: I want to give a shout-out first to all the food hubs out there. What food hubs across the country have in common is a deep understanding of the local food landscape and a hands-on approach to bridging the gap between farmers and buyers. Food hubs are facilitators of a thriving local food ecosystem. By focusing on relationships, education, and sustainability, food hubs across the country follow a model that not only supports farmers and buyers but also fosters their own communities dedicated to the principles of local food.

What makes US different now is that we have made the choice to embed our food hub program in a larger business but still maintain the same values.  WCW, enhanced by LFC, is more than just a distributor; we’re changemakers in a way that sets us apart from other foodservice businesses of our class.

Q: What else do Chefs need to know about Local Food Connection and sourcing local foods?

Anna: It’s not an all or nothing thing. You can mix in some local selections, supporting a small or organic farm. They can think of supporting a farm as simple as adding a couple of $15 local items, or $25 local items. Or of course chefs can go all in with local and, with our help, plan in advance to bring in specific local goods for their menu. We can sit down with chefs and say, ok right now it’s February. This is what we’re going to have in July to September, so plan your menus now for July to September and when the time comes, these local items will be ready for you. One of the first steps you can take is reaching out to our WOW center and letting them know you’d like more resources on buying local and describe what you’re looking for. Mention LFC and that you read this blog!

Q: Can you share a success story of a local farmer or producer who has benefited from Local Food Connection’s support?

Anna: I would say one of the best examples is Lobenstein Farm, a small-to-mid-sized farm located just across the border in Indiana. They began with farmers markets but faced uncertainties in sales, as farmer’s markets really rely on traffic to the market, weather, etc. With our support, they added on to their six markets a week a more stable wholesale model. Initially, we purchased products on a just-in-time basis, but as they grew, we now buy from them by the case, integrating their products into our inventory system. This evolution has allowed them to scale up from being mainly a farmers market vendor; they are now a reliable supplier for countless restaurants, retailers, schools and universities, all done via us ordering from them and them dropping off two times a week.

Q: How has the expansion of Local Food Connection impacted the number of vendors you work with and sales?

Anna: WCW’s Midwest region now has 140 local vendors. They cover everything from meat and dairy to produce and local gourmet items and are all sizes.

It’s hard to even imagine this, but Local Food Connection grew from 100+ wholesale buyers in 2015 to over 4,900 distinct wholesale buyers in 2023!

Q: What does the future hold for Local Food Connection?

Anna: We’re committed to continuing our mission of connecting local farmers with buyers while promoting sustainability and transparency in the food system. As we expand into new markets and forge more partnerships, our goal remains the same: to support local agriculture, provide access to fresh, nutritious food, and strengthen communities. With each step forward, we’re guided by the values that have defined us from the beginning.

To learn more about Local Food Connection, visit our Local Food Connection page.

Zest Fest – Winter Citrus Season 

By | Chef's Feed, Local and Specialty, Produce, What Chefs Want

As the winter chill sets in, there’s a burst of vibrant flavors waiting to grace our tables—citrus fruits. Winter, often synonymous with cozy evenings by the fireplace and hearty comfort foods, also marks the peak of citrus season. Citrus not only adds a burst of sunshine to the gloomy winter days but also offers an array of health benefits.

Why Winter?

In the winter, the geography of citrus cultivation plays a crucial role in the availability and diversity of citrus. While citrus trees are hardy and can thrive in various climates, certain regions become citrus havens during the winter months. California, particularly the Central Valley, is a major contributor to the winter citrus bounty in the United States. Here, the mild climate and fertile soil create optimal conditions for growing a variety of citrus fruits, from juicy oranges to tangy lemons. The southern regions of Florida also shine during the winter, with the Sunshine State living up to its name as a prime citrus-producing area. Internationally, countries like Spain, Italy, and Morocco are known for their winter citrus harvests, exporting a spectrum of flavors to global markets. The combination of these diverse growing regions ensures a continuous supply of fresh and flavorful citrus throughout the winter.

The Winter Citrus Lineup

Oranges:

Oranges are undoubtedly the reigning champions of winter citrus. Bursting with vitamin C, they offer a refreshing and immune-boosting kick. Varieties such as Navel and Cara Cara are particularly abundant during the winter months. Their sweet and tangy profiles make them perfect for both snacking and juicing. Chefs can experiment with orange segments in salads, create zesty marinades, or whip up a classic orange glaze for meats and desserts.

  • Naval Oranges: Naval oranges are known for their sweet and slightly tangy flavor. They are less acidic than some other orange varieties, making them a favorite for fresh consumption and juicing.
  • Cara Cara Oranges: Cara Cara oranges have a distinct flavor that combines the sweetness of traditional oranges with hints of cherry and berry. They are often considered sweeter and less acidic than Naval oranges.
  • Bergamot Oranges (item #03154): The flesh of Bergamot oranges is less juicy than that of other common citrus varieties, and it is typically not consumed fresh due to its tart and bitter taste. However, the peel imparts a unique citrus flavor with floral and slightly spicy notes.
  • Valencia Oranges: Valencia oranges are characterized by a sweet and slightly tart flavor profile. They are often favored for juicing due to their high juice content and well-balanced taste.
  • Blood Oranges: Blood oranges have a distinct flavor that combines the sweetness of oranges with berry-like undertones. The presence of anthocyanins, natural pigments responsible for the red color, contributes to their unique taste.

Grapefruits:

Grapefruits, with their invigorating tartness, add a sophisticated twist to winter dishes. Pink and red varieties dominate the market during this season. The bitterness of grapefruit pairs wonderfully with arugula in salads, or chefs can elevate seafood dishes with a grapefruit ceviche.

  • Ruby Red Grapefruit: The classic Ruby Red grapefruit is renowned for its vibrant red or pink flesh, offering a perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess. Its succulent and juicy texture makes it a popular choice for breakfast or as a refreshing snack.
  • White Grapefruit: White grapefruits, such as the Marsh or Duncan varieties, have a paler flesh and tend to be less sweet, with a sharper, more traditional grapefruit flavor.
  • Oro Blanco Grapefruits: A cross between a grapefruit and a pomelo, present a milder, less acidic taste, resembling a sweeter version of a traditional grapefruit.

Mandarins/Tangerines/Clementines:

Mandarins are the perfect snack-sized citrus delights. Easy to peel and bursting with sweetness, mandarins, including varieties like Satsuma, Gold Nugget, Shasta Gold, Ojai Pixie and Clementine (item #98755), are a winter favorite. Chefs can use segments in desserts, infuse their flavor into cocktails, or create a vibrant salsa to accompany grilled proteins.

  • Satsuma Mandarins (item #10543): Satsuma mandarins, often simply referred to as Satsumas, are a distinct and popular variety of mandarin oranges known for their sweetness, ease of peeling, and seedlessness.

Lemons:

While lemons are available year-round, their peak season often coincides with winter. Known for their bright acidity, lemons can transform any dish. Chefs can use lemon zest to enhance the flavor of baked goods, create a zesty lemon vinaigrette for salads, or whip up a classic lemon curd for a decadent dessert.

  • Meyer Lemons (item #10511): Meyer lemons are notably sweeter compared to traditional lemons. Due to their sweeter and less acidic nature, Meyer lemons are incredibly versatile in the kitchen and particularly prized in baking.

Limes:

Limes are a citrus fruit known for their bright green color, tart flavor, and versatility in various culinary applications. They are a popular ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes, adding a refreshing and tangy kick to beverages, salads, marinades, desserts, and more.

  • Finger Limes (item #40500): Finger limes, also known as caviar limes or citrus caviar, are a unique and tiny citrus fruit with a distinctive appearance. What sets finger limes apart is their elongated shape and the tiny, bead-like juice vesicles inside. These vesicles resemble caviar, giving rise to the alternative name. The flavor of finger limes is typically tart, similar to traditional limes, but with a unique textural experience.

Other:

  • Buddha Hand Citron (item #20977): The flavor of Buddha’s hand citron is distinct and aromatic. It is known for its intense citrus fragrance without the typical juiciness or pulp found in other citrus fruits. One of the primary uses of Buddha’s hand is its zest. The peel is rich in essential oils, imparting a strong citrus aroma to dishes.
  • Kumquats – Unlike many other citrus fruits, kumquats are typically eaten whole, including the peel, which is sweet, and the flesh, which is tart. They add a distinctive sweet and tangy flavor to dishes and are often enjoyed fresh, candied, or used in jams and preserves.

Want the fresh citrus taste without the whole fruit? Check out our selection of Natalies Juices for fresh citrus juice options like blood orange, fresh lemon, fresh lime, grapefruit, orange and tangerine.


Citrus Inspiration

Citrus-infused Roasts:

Liven up your winter roasts by incorporating citrus flavors. Marinate meats in a blend of orange, lemon, and grapefruit juices for a refreshing and aromatic twist.

Winter Citrus Salads:

Create vibrant salads by combining a variety of citrus segments with greens, nuts, and cheese. The combination of sweet and tangy citrus adds complexity to the dish.

Citrus Desserts:

From tarts to sorbets, winter citrus can be the star of your dessert menu. Experiment with citrus curds, candied peels, or even a grapefruit and thyme-infused panna cotta.

Citrus-infused Cocktails:

Craft refreshing cocktails using winter citrus. From classic margaritas with a twist of mandarin to grapefruit mojitos, the options are endless.

Winter is truly the season of citrus, offering a burst of flavor and a nutritional boost when we need it most. Chefs can explore the diverse world of winter citrus to create dishes that are not only delicious but also celebrate the unique qualities of each fruit. While some of our citrus comes and goes with seasonal availability, reach out to your customer advocate with questions or help sourcing something specific. So, let the citrus celebration begin, and infuse your winter with a burst of sunshine!

Nourishing Communities Through the LFPA Program  

By | Chef's Feed, Farm To Table, Local, Local and Specialty, Produce, What Chefs Want

In the heart of Kentucky, a remarkable initiative is making a significant impact on local communities. What Chefs Want, in collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, is taking part in the Local Food Purchasing Agreement (LFPA) program. This is a venture that goes beyond just providing meals—it’s about building stronger local food systems and supporting Kentucky farmers. The LFPA program is authorized by the American Rescue Plan to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency.

Connecting Families with Local Goodness

Since its launch, the LFPA program has successfully connected thousands of Kentucky families with the bounty of local seasonal produce, value-added goods, and meats. The goal is simple yet profound: ensuring that families have access to fresh, locally sourced food at no cost.

In Kentucky, What Chefs Want is playing a pivotal role in the program by packing and distributing food boxes from the Bardstown warehouse, while also administering and funding distributions through key subcontractors such as Black Soil KY, Need More Acres and Locals Food Hub & Pizza Pub. The goal is ambitious: pack and distribute a total of 30,000 boxes in collaboration with partners by the summer of next year. Together, they are actively strengthening the local food system, supporting farmers, and creating a network that benefits both producers and consumers alike.

What Chefs Want has been actively involved in this project for a year, operating within a broader framework that includes the LFPA, the Federal purchasing program, and collaborations with various states, including Ohio and Kentucky. In Ohio, the team has been packing 500 boxes a week for the  Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley in Youngstown, showcasing the success and scalability of their efforts.

LFPA Grants: A Closer Look

The LFPA program is backed by a substantial grant of $11,035,420 from the USDA, extending the grant period to August 2025. Exclusive purchases of local and regional foods, networking opportunities, and financial benefits for locally produced goods are key priorities.

What Chefs Want’s involvement in the LFPA program exemplifies a commitment to community well-being, sustainable food systems, and supporting local farmers. As they continue to make strides in Ohio and Kentucky, the impact of their efforts is not just seen in the numbers but felt in the lives of the families they serve. The LFPA program is a shining example of how partnerships between government agencies, businesses like What Chefs Want, and community organizations can create lasting positive change.

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!

Item of the Day: Salmon Bratwurst

By | Chef's Feed, Gourmet, Grilling Essentials, Item of the Day, Local, Local and Specialty, Meats, Products, Seafood, What Chefs Want

Salmon Bratwurst

From Shuckman’s Fish Co. & Smokery – “Since we began in 1919, we have taken great pride in the high quality of the products we offer, and we prepare our gourmet smoked fish and caviar to the level of quality our customers have come to expect.”

Ingredients: salmon, sugar, salt, spices, rice flour.

Links are 5 per lb.

Item 95045 – 8-9LB Case

Springer Mountain Farms Chicken

By | Chef's Feed, Farm To Table, Local and Specialty, Meats, Southern Foods, What Chefs Want

Springer Mountain Farms is a family-owned business nestled in the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with over 50 years experience in raising chickens. We exercise great care in all that we do, and our dedication to providing our chickens with a quality of life and healthy diet results in a healthier, more delicious chicken for our customers.


All Springer Mountain Farms chickens are responsibly raised on a high quality diet of pesticide-free, American-grown grains, without antibiotics, hormones, steroids or animal by-products -EVER! We are certified by the American Humane Association as being the most humane possible with verified regular, independent audits of all farms and facilities.

Search Springer on our website or app to see available Springer Mountain Farms Chicken products.

For more information about Springer Mountain Farms check out their website here.

Fresh Catches from Bluefin Seafoods and Boat Direct!

By | Chef's Feed, Farm To Table, Local and Specialty, Seafood, Smart Catch, Southern Foods, What Chefs Want

Wild Rock Shrimp, White Creek Farms Rainbow Trout, Texas Redfish and more!

Rock Shrimp

Mexico – Wild / Peeled & Deveined

Item 48669 – 5 lb. frozen


Redfish

Texas – Farmed

Item 48074 – Whole 4-6 lb. each

Item 48072- Fillet per lb.


Rainbow Trout

White Creek Farm of Indiana – Farmed

Item 48143 – Whole 1.5 lb. avg.


For seafood questions please call 502-587-1505

Fresh Catches from Bluefin Seafoods and Boat Direct!

By | Chef's Feed, Farm To Table, Local and Specialty, Seafood, Smart Catch, Southern Foods, What Chefs Want

Wild Swordfish, Farmed Texas Redfish, Carolina Catfish and more!

Swordfish

Costa Rica – Wild

Item 48180 – Whole H&G 60-120 lb. avg.

Item 48126 – Loins per lb.


Redfish

Texas – Farmed

Item 48074 – Whole 4-6 lb. each

Item 48072- Fillet per lb.


Flounder

Virginia – Wild

Item 48948 – Whole 4-6 lb. avg.

Item 48033 – Fillet per lb.


Fresh Catfish Fillets

North Carolina – Farmed

Item 48912 – 10 lb. case


For seafood questions please call 502-587-1505

Krey’s Corner: Local and Seasonal produce now available.

By | Chef's Feed, Farm To Table, Fruit, Local, Local and Specialty, Produce, Products, Vegetables, What Chefs Want

Fall is here! We’ve got a great selection of fall favorites like plump pie pumpkins, crisp and delicious apple cider from Huber’s Orchard, decorative dried Indian corn, and much more!

Pie Pumpkins

Item 20643 – each


Apple Cider

From Huber’s Orchard & Winery, Starlight, Indiana

Item 93701 – 1 gallon


Mini Decorative Gourds & Pumpkins

Item 20637 – 1/2 bushel case


Large Pumpkins

Item 20641 – each


Honeynut Squash

Item 11016 – 1/2 bushel case


Dried Indian Corn

Item 20082 – 12 bunch case


Quince

Item 10983 – 42 count case