Specialty Food Magazine

FALL 2017

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://specialtyfoodmagazine.epubxp.com/i/873281

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Page 56 of 107

ring, reducing it to the right jammy texture. "If you make it faster, you're not going to get the complexity of f lavors, the richness, the bacon note throughout," Oraschewsky says. Indeed, the rich complexity of TBJ Gourmet's black pepper-f lavored bacon spread wowed the panel of culinary judges at the Specialty Food Association's Front Burner Foodservice Pitch Competition at the Summer 2017 Fancy Food Show in New York City. It took the top prize, signaling the mania for baconizing is far from over. Diversifying the Offerings Still, Kramer and Oraschewsky decided they didn't want to be locked into the bacon category alone. Their TBJ brand stands for The Bacon Jams, "a shout-out to our main product," Oraschewsky says, "but we don't want to be held to one item. Naming the company TBJ allows us to branch out." In addition to their bacon spreads they've developed Himalayan Bacon Salt Blend and Maple Bacon Sugar Rub, ideal for glazing ham and roasts. The partners' savory specialty prod- ucts are designed for easy everyday use for restaurant chefs, food truck vendors, and home cooks. They make no claim to invent- ing bacon jam, only jarring it. The shelf- stable spread is good for three months in the refrigerator after opening. "The idea for spreadable bacon had been out there in the ether for a while," producer profile MICHAEL ORASCHEWSKY Age: 36 Years in specialty food: 4 Favorite food: A German dish called Schweinshaxe, a big pork shank. When it's done right—crispy and crackling on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside—it's heaven on earth. Least favorite food: Turkey bacon Last thing I ate and loved: My wife's risotto, done properly with saffron and Parmigiano-Reggiano If I weren't in the food business I'd be: A geologist One piece of advice I'd give to a new food business: Go all in early and see if your product is going to make it. If you take 10 years to get your product off the ground, it's more like a hobby. If you're not willing to give it your full attention, it's not going to go anywhere. It still might not go anywhere, but at least you'll know sooner and can go back to your full-time job. BRUCE KRAMER Age: 54 Years in specialty food: 4 Favorite food: Seared sea scallops Least favorite food: Liver and onions Last thing I ate and loved: Jumbo lump crab cakes while visiting the eastern shore of Maryland last month If I weren't in the food business I'd be: Working in software One piece of advice I'd give to a new food business: It takes more than just a great recipe to make a living in the food business. Oraschewsky says. "Other restaurants were making it and Martha Stewart had a recipe for bacon jam. I thought it was viable to stick our toes in the water." In order to take that step, the pair need- ed money. A Kickstarter campaign in 2013 netted them close to $13,000, allowing them to introduce bacon jam to larger audiences outside the Philadelphia area. It proved to be a hit at bacon festivals. A friend suggested they sell it that winter at the Philadelphia Christmas Village, a German-themed holi- day market with 80 or so vendors that runs from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. There was debate between the part- ners about being able to afford it. The rent for the booth was $4,000. They needed to employ someone to staff it for 10 hours a day. Oraschewsky had to pay someone to take his shift at the restaurant. Some money was left over from their Kickstarter campaign, but they still had to approach friends and family to raise the rest to build up inventory. "We had to do $20,000 total just to break even," Oraschewsky said. "At this point we had probably done $15,000 altogether in sales. I'm working in the restaurant by day and cooking bacon jam all night, driving it down to the city to fill up our booth. It would be sold out by the end of the day." All in Going all in was pivotal. "If we couldn't sell bacon jam at Christmas when people are looking for the best thing to give to their friends and family, we'd know," Oraschewsky says. "It was real- ly putting our money and time on the line." They beat their break-even goal four times over, making $80,000 during the holi- day period. Convinced they were onto some- thing big, they decided to seriously pursue it as a business. Oraschewsky took classes on meat production to gain USDA certification. They made four appearances on QVC, their first national push, and sold "a boatload of bacon jam in a short amount of time," he says. Throughout 2014 and 2015 they ramped up production, moving from sell- 54 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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