Fun

Oyster Season!

While snow season may be approaching most of the country, sorry Buffalo. Here on the coast of South Carolina, February means oyster season!  This culinary tradition kicks into full gear in the low country and the fun begins! Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a new come to the Oyster Roast here are some important things to remember to get the most out of your experience:

Whatever happens, don’t volunteer to clean the oysters!  This is a job left to the newbies or children in the family who enjoy spraying water on themselves and the oysters. If you are really dealing out corporal punishment then you can have the kiddos get a fine toothbrush and clean the dirt off the oysters individually. This is sure to provide hours of delight!

Next up is cooking the oysters. This is the guy’s guy thing to do. There is nothing like standing around an open flame under a metal box steaming up oysters. Or if you are really getting in touch with your inner hunter/gatherer then start up the bonfire, get a metal sheet, grab your burlap sack and go old school. In any event, this is the perfect time to have an adult beverage, stand around looking busy and get kudos for doing the “cooking”.

Once the piping hot oysters hit the table, it’s go time! Grab your glove, knife and get to shucking.  Remember, even if you are a first timer, if bring your own glove and oyster knife to the party then you can look like a pro.  This will help ensure that you garner an invite to next year’s affair.   Depending on your taste, oysters are great on their own, with saltine crackers or a splash of cocktail or hot sauce (Habanero Havoc recommended).

Don’t worry non-oyster eaters, most times the host will have you covered.  This is because an oyster roast in the South can be as much a social event as a culinary one. Therefore, chili (with a splash of Big House Yellow) is the traditional dish to be offered as the shellfish substitute.  If you don’t like chili you are going to be feasting on Saltines all night so be prepared.

An oyster roast is a fun southern experience not to be missed whether you are a local or a tourist visiting Charleston. If you get the opportunity this winter to go to an oyster roast, make sure you take advantage of it and take your oyster knife too.

Business

Cookies, Sauce, Gifts and More! Our story from AmericasMart

What an incredible place! I don’t think that I have seen so much stuff: candy, furniture, gift sets, and the list goes on! Of course, I’m talking about AmericasMart in Atlanta. We participated this year in the show with our colleagues at Charleston Specialty Foods.

If you have never been to the “market” it is hard to fully describe, kind of like trying to tell someone how green the grass is at Augusta National, you just have to see it. There are three buildings with at least 10 floors each. Every building has nothing but products that you can sell in your retail space.  We were located in Building 2, in the temporary showroom that housed gourmet foods. 

For our first time being at this show, it was a good experience. We were able to showcase our sauce, gift sets and share our story with buyers, vendors and industry experts from all over the United States. This kind of exposure is what makes this show great. It brings everyone together in one place and gives people an opportunity to meet face to face.  

If you ever get the chance to be one of these faces at the market, go for it! I highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to see this spectacle. Whether you are a buyer, vendor or just a guest it is worth your time to check out the market. All, I can say is that it is almost a surreal, strange adventure in shopping that even a guy will appreciate.

Hopefully, some cooler weather will approach the Lowcountry soon as Oyster Season gets ready to kick into full gear. Check in next week with the Q-Blog, as we chronicle the must have items to get ready for your upcoming oyster roast! Until then remember to keep it saucy!

Business

New Year’s Resolutions, New Products, Gifts and Shows

As we turn the calendar on 2016 and move into 2017, there is obvious talk of New Year’s Resolutions. In the specialty food business these resolutions can mean anything from launching a new product to expanding your market reach to designing new gift baskets. In today’s post we are going to cover two of these three concepts. While we are still working through some possible rubs, there will not be a new product launching a new early 2017. So, in this post we will be taking a look at expanding market reach and what goes into developing a new gift basket.

Growing your business is something that people in the specialty food products are always looking to do. This year Doc and the Crew are headed out to the AmericasMart Market in Atlanta coming up on January. This is the largest show in the Southeast and where many buyers, store owners and distributors come to check out products and see what will be hot in 2017. We are hoping this year’s America’s Mart will be a great place to showcase our products to those people. This in turn, will help us expand our market reach and gain that next big order!

When it comes to the nitty gritty of a specialty food business, you always have to look at ways to be innovative, creative and forward thinking. In this section, we will give a look at what goes into making that next gift basket idea that we offer our customers. From our end, we determine does this gift box complement what we currently offer, is this something that we would buy for ourselves or a friend, does this gift box have a local, regional or national appeal and is it a good seasonal offering. As an example, we will be featuring the sweet and heat gift box set upcoming in February because Valentine’s Day will be in full swing so it gives us a good seasonal tie in. Looking beyond whether a gift offering is of local, regional or a national reach, we also look at what products will be going in. We try to source low country products that will be a good fit with our Doc Crombie’s product line to offer in a gift box or basket. We also have a great partnership with Charleston’s Own that helps supply additional products that help formulate our gifts like the sweet and heat basket. As you can see there is more than meets the eye when considering a new gift offering to our customers. We definitely try to put some thought into what goes into our product line so that we can offer some great gift baskets and boxes to our customers! 

We hope that you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at what goes on at a Gourmet/Specialty Food Business like Doc Crombie’s. Be sure to check back later this month as we chronicle our trip to the America’s Mart! Until then….like the Doc always says….Keep it Saucy!!