As we enter the festive flurry of the holidays, we celebrate by giving and receiving. Specifically, we give more of our purses, and then we receive — by morsel, mouthful, nibble and gulp — into our pieholes! So, if you plan on spending money and eating this holiday season, why not support your local Alabama food makers in the process?! These talented artisans create incredible goods that will take your party fare to the next level. Or impress your friends and family with a delicious gift that they’ll not only love, but also that gives them a taste of our little corner of the South. These 12 Alabamians are producing some mighty fine and simply delicious food products, which can be found in thousands of shops and markets across the country. Get ready for a healthy dose of mouthwatering images, served with a heaping side of Alabama pride!
12 Alabama Food Makers
“Technically I steal honey from the bees,” says Justin Hill, owner of Eastaboga Bee Company. “It started as a hobby, and the demand kept growing. I spend most of my time working with the bees, making sure they have the best possible chance for their hive to thrive.” There are many bee stings and, no, you do not build up a tolerance to the pain. But all the stings and hours of affixing thousands of labels to glass bottles are worth it for Justin, whose artisanal raw honey is making waves in the culinary world. Many highly acclaimed chefs are peppering the name Eastaboga Bee onto their menus. “The flavor notes and the color changes with the season and the floral sources,” says Justin, who loves that his honey allows him to work outdoors and meet new people. “My favorite way to use honey is in a fried peanut butter and honey sandwich. Or you can use it as a replacement in any recipe that calls for sugar. I’ve been told that helps with allergies.”
Find it at: Publix, Piggly Wiggly and Western SuperMarket, or shop online at EastabogaBeeCompany.com.
In 2013, Nancey Legg began brewing kombucha — the tangy, fizzy concoction of fermented sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria — as a healthy option for her family, and they loved it. She kept making more and eventually friends and acquaintances wanted more too. She debuted Better Kombucha at a weekly local farmers’ market, first in Mason jars, and then she taught herself to keg it. Now, it’s bottled and branded with the company’s sharp logo and served in a variety of flavors, including apple, elderberry, ginger, hibiscus ginger and lavender rose. “I love teaching the community about bettering their health by including fermented foods and beverages into their diet,” says Nancey. “And I love that, as an Alabama kombucha brewer, I’m helping pave the way for a healthier mindset and lifestyle in the food maker industry.”
Find it at: Homewood Friends & Family Chiropractic, IZ Cafe, IZ Neighborhood Grocery, Juice Bar, O’Henry’s Brookwood, O’Henry’s Highland Park, Revelator Coffee Co. and TrimTab Brewing in Birmingham; Mama Mocha’s and Prevail Union in Auburn; Alchemy Lounge and Piper & Leaf at Strong Station in Huntsville; Black Warrior Brewing, Druid City Brewing, Juice Bar and Monarch Espresso Bar (coming soon) in Tuscaloosa; and Revelator Coffee Co. in Nashville.
After years of making her signature green tomato chutney for friends and family, Le Cordon Bleu London grad and Birmingham native Rebecca Williamson decided to turn her popular signature recipe into a business. Holmsted Fines chutneys continue a centuries-old tradition that began in India and made its way to Europe as a luxury good. It is a beautiful complement to meats, cheese, bread and more. Rebecca’s all-natural line of chutneys has expanded to include peach chutney and balsamic red onion chutney, and she is not only passionate about culinary creativity, but also about giving back. Rebecca created Committed to Give, a movement that works to save and improve the lives of people throughout the world who need assistance. She donates 10% of Holmsted Fines profits to the cause.
Find it at: Alabama Goods, Oak Street Garden Shop, Please Reply, Oli.O, The Vintage Wine Shop, Western SuperMarket, Piggly Wiggly, Whole Foods Market and shops across the country, or shop online at holmstedfines.com.
“I grew up in New Orleans, where cold brew coffee has been a staple for as long as I can remember,” says Bebe Goodrich, founder and president of Icebox Coffee. “Whether at home with my parents, at my grandmother’s or with my uncle at the local coffee shop, I’ve been sipping on cold brew since the age of 12.” About five years ago, Bebe was working in a nonprofit and felt that she wasn’t pursuing her true passion. So, like anyone would do to break out of a rut, she grabbed a five-gallon paint bucket, five pounds of coffee and a pair of panty hose and headed to her garage to brew coffee! And Icebox Coffee was born. Bebe says that her cold brew coffee concentrate is like a coffee shop in a bottle. It can serve as the foundation for any beverage, hot or cold. Mix it with water and microwave for a traditional cup o’ joe, or serve over ice with milk to create an iced latte. You can even use it in any recipe that calls for brewed coffee — chili, sauces, frosting, pies and ice cream. “I love how Icebox Coffee captures my New Orleans. It brings me home each morning,” says Bebe. “I also love what I do and who I do it with. The community is all in. I feel as though the buyers and customers are as committed to our success as we are.”
Find it at: Western SuperMarket, Whole Foods Market, Piggly Wiggly, The Pantry and Organic Harvest, or shop online at iceboxcoffee.com.
Timothy Murphy grew up playing under five oak trees at his grandmother’s house in Mobile, Alabama, where he and his family also liked to enjoy her signature hot pepper jelly. “Jelly canning is a family tradition that my grandmother, Carolyn Oyler, has been doing for more than 35 years,” says Timothy. “At every special event, her hot pepper jelly would get devoured by family and friends.” He shared his family tradition with friends at tailgates during his time at Auburn University. After college and following many sessions in the kitchen with his grandmother, Timothy and his wife, Heather, decided to turn their hobby into a full-fledged business, and 5ive Oaks LLC was born. “5ive Oaks pepper jelly is made from a three-pepper blend instead of traditional fruits such as strawberries or grapes. It offers the perfect amount of sweetness with a bite of peppery heat,” says Timothy. Besides the traditional cream cheese and crackers, 5ive Oaks pepper jelly pairs well with grilled or sautéed shrimp, pork tenderloin, sausage tailgate dip and even a Chick-fil-A or sausage biscuit in the morning.
Find it at: Alabama Goods or shop online at 5iveoaks.com.
“My favorite thing about Kettle Bros. kettle corn is the expression on the faces of people when they try one of our flavors for the first time,” says Jordan Greer, who co-owns the company with his brother Brandon. “A lot of people can’t fathom cookies-and-cream-flavored kettle corn, but once they taste it, they are hooked!” The brothers, who both have backgrounds in business, stumbled upon the concept when Brandon had the crazy idea to try some different flavors of kettle corn recipes and let his kids try it. They went crazy for the beloved sweet-and-salty popcorn, drizzled in creative flavors and toppings. The brothers decided this would be a fun family business, and Kettle Bros. was born. “We develop our flavors with our kids in mind,” says Jordan. “We want to do a few flavors and do them exceptionally well. We brainstorm a lot with our extended family until we find a flavor that is kid- and mom-approved.” Right now, the flavors include cookies & cream, smokin’ white cheddar, heavenly cake and cinnamon roll.
Find it at: Alabama Goods, BamaWise, Brookwood Hospital Gift Shop, Town and Country Clothes, Western SuperMarket, Piggly Wiggly, Publix and other locations throughout Alabama, or shop online at kettlebros.com.
“While living in the suburbs of Hoover in 2010, we had a God-led calling to hit the reset button on our lives,” says Greg, who co-owns Dayspring Dairy with his wife, Ana. “Capitalizing on Ana’s 25 years in the culinary field as a chef, recipe developer and food stylist, we landed on starting a cheese business. I was an IT manager and, having grown up a city kid, I dreamed of having land, a farm and livestock.” The couple purchased a farm in Gallant, Alabama, and began with a starter flock of 11 sheep. They built a barn complex, including a milking parlor and creamery, and debuted their cheeses at the Market at Pepper Place in 2013. Dayspring Dairy produces fresh and aged sheep milk cheeses and award-winning caramel. Their Frescas, or fresh spreadable cheeses, are offered in a variety of flavors, including pimento-garlic, basil-peppercorn, truffle and lemon-fig. They also produce the hugely popular Halloumi, a Mediterranean-style frying and grilling cheese, and a classic Greek-style feta. “Our aged cheeses, or what Ana calls ‘serious cheese,’ include Gouda, truffled Gouda, and Manchego styles. We also produce a dulce-de-leche-style caramel spread that won a Southern Living food award this year,” says Greg.
Find it at: The Market at Pepper Place for Dayspring Dairy cheeses; Whole Foods Market and Iz Neighborhood Grocery for Dayspring Dairy caramel spread; or shop online at dayspringdairy.com.
Jennifer Lee, the owner and CEO of Jennifer’s Kitchen, does not have a culinary background or even a storied family pepper jelly recipe. She actually got her start making commercials for Chevrolet, but when her children were born, she found it difficult to keep up with the demanding long hours of editing and unpredictability of shoot schedules. She became a stay-at-home mom, but she didn’t know what to do with all of her overachieving, Type A energy, so she took to the kitchen. “I immersed myself in learning everything I could about each thing I decided to make. When I began making jelly, I was hooked,” says Jennifer. “I loved going to the farmers’ markets, foraging for something new each weekend, and coming home to create something delicious and beautiful for another day. I began giving the jellies as Christmas gifts, and it soon caught on.”
Her gourmet pepper jellies are made with all-natural ingredients and no preservatives or food coloring. They come in a variety of flavors, including cranberry-pecan, traditional, hot, peach, strawberry and low sugar flavors. Everyone knows about serving pepper jelly as a topping on cream cheese and crackers, but Jennifer has pushed the boundaries of what pepper jelly can do, creating recipes for BBQ pepper meatballs, peach pepper chicken, pepper jelly cheesecake, peach teriyaki pepper wings and more. “I love that my pepper jellies have allowed me to work and be at home with my children,” says Jennifer. “They have grown up as part of my company. From my oldest being my first taste tester to stock manager and my daughter helping with shows, booth design and social media, they help shape it every step of the way. I think my youngest may take over one day!”
Best friends Courtney Wright and Heather Fox’s combined backgrounds include over 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, catering and event production. “We have both always loved cooking and entertaining and would often search for unique products to help spur our creativity in the kitchen,” says Courtney. A few years ago, the duo decided to create locally infused sea salts. “Our locally blended sea salts are created with high-quality, all-natural ingredients, and our current blends include lime, Meyer lemon, rosemary, Sriracha lime and vanilla bean,” says Heather. Their citrus blends — lime and Meyer lemon— are natural pairings with grilled chicken, seafood and vegetables, as well as fresh fruit, salsas, salads or a margarita. The duo suggests pairing the rosemary blend with roasted chicken, new potatoes, fresh mozzarella, mixed nuts or sprinkled over olive oil with fresh bread. The Sriracha lime is perfect for those who love a little kick. Heather and Courtney love it on popcorn, French fries, seafood and ceviches, or rimming a Bloody Mary. And the vanilla bean sea salt takes any dessert up a notch. “Part of the fun of Savor Salt Co. is being in business with your best friend,” says Courtney. “But we also love the creative outlet it provides. There is nothing more exciting than working together to come up with an idea, and seeing people embrace and enjoy it.” Heather adds, “Birmingham has such an incredible community of creatives and makers, and we love being a part of it!”
Find it at: Alabama Goods, Oli.O and Chickadee, or shop online at savorsaltco.com.
“When we decided that we were going to pursue this as our full-time business, we did a lot of market research and found that the hummus found in grocery stores is typically really boring, bland and full of cheap oil filler and artificial preservatives,” says Allison Clark, who co-founded and co-owns The Hummus People with Colin Woltmann. “We wanted to blow peoples’ socks off with our different flavors, unique art and fun interactive packaging.” Their one-of-a-kind hummus lineup includes classy classic, roasted garlic masala, Memphis black bean and spicy voodoo jalapeño — all made fresh to order with organic ingredients and no added oil, which makes it only 35 calories per serving. The flavors are as catchy as their slogan, “Music to your Mouth!”
Aside from traditional dipping, Allison and Colin’s favorite way to use their hummus, especially when they’re in a hurry, is in rice bowls. “You can get really creative with these,” says Colin. “We usually just use what we have on hand: leftover rice and veggies with a couple tablespoons of hummus and you have a quick, easy meal that is super healthy and will stick with you.” The duo’s favorite thing about their hummus operation is the connections they’ve made with people at farmers’ markets and beyond. “To know that we are making a product that is being enjoyed in hundreds of peoples’ homes every week is still pretty surreal,” says Allison.
Find it at: Whole Foods Market in Birmingham; Whole Foods Market and Juice Bar in Huntsville; Whole Foods Market Franklin and Whole Foods Market Green Hills in Tennessee.
“When our family lived in Delaware, going out for Italian ice was one of our favorite things to do as a family. It’s a lot more common in that area,” says David Shaw, who co-owns Magic City Sweet Ice with his wife, Wani. “After moving south, we had a difficult time finding it anywhere, so we started researching what it would take to bring it to Birmingham.” And after a lot of trial and error, the couple has struck gold with their almost creamy, sorbet-like consistency and creative flavors with fun names. Sweet Home Alabama, a delicious mix of muscadine, lavender and peach, was one of the crazy-popular flavors of this past summer. And when they are not taking inspiration from Alabama’s local seasonal produce, the duo likes to partner with other Alabama makers to create fun new flavors. “We’ve recently started to work with a local startup craft soda maker, Wholesome Soda, on a few flavors like our Ginger Peach Ice Tea,” says Wani. “In Alabama, there are so many growers and other small vendors like us to work with, it makes it easy to be creative and get fresh products to make our ices from.” With the occasional exception, Magic City Sweet Ice’s Italian ices are dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan and contain no high fructose corn syrup for a healthy treat! “When they taste a flavor for the first time, and they smile and say, ‘Wow!’ — that makes it all worthwhile,” says David.
Find it at: Magic City Sweet Ice’s brick-and-mortar location across from Patriot Park at 715 Oak Grove, Homewood, AL 35209, open Monday through Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays, 2:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; find them at public events throughout the Birmingham area with their Italian ice push-carts; or book them for your next corporate, church, school, private event or wedding by visiting magiccitysweetice.com/bookus or calling (205) 907-2125.
After attending cooking school in Buenos Aires, Birmingham native Ashley Tarver worked in three Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain, followed by a stint as a chef on a private island off of the Florida Keys. She returned home to work for some of Birmingham’s best chefs. After a few years in the kitchen, she felt the need to do something different. So, she created Copper Pot Kitchen infused olive oils. Her all-natural olive oils come in six flavors, including lemon rosemary, roasted garlic, honey balsamic, spicy chile, lemon dill and herbes de Provence, and they are the perfect complement to a fresh baguette, drizzled over salads, used as a marinade for your favorite meats and veggies or a simple yet delicious finishing oil.
“When I started Copper Pot Kitchen three years ago I was completely in the dark. There were no books or classes to ‘teach’ me how to be a small batch food maker,” says Ashley. I struggled to find packaging, learn about freight and navigate the grocery business. Without the support of some incredible people, I would not have made it.” Ashley realized there was no group or professional organization for small Alabama food makers like herself, so this year, she founded the Alabama Food Makers’ Alliance to provide support, resources and networking. “I think it’s worth noting that this unassuming group of 20 food makers have products in thousands of stores across the country,” says Ashley. “Go Alabama!”
Find it at: Alabama Goods, IZ Neighborhood Grocery, The Pantry, New York Butcher Shoppe, Piggly Wiggly, Publix, Western SuperMarket and 250 stores across the country, or shop online at copperpotkitchen.com.
To learn more about the Alabama Food Makers Alliance, email [email protected].
In addition to the culinary creatives included in this article, the Alabama Food Makers Alliance includes Magic City Sweet Ice, G Mommas Cookies, Merry Cheese Crisps, T Lish, Pretty Perfect Cheese, Mama’s Secrets Cookies, Mis’ Rubin’s Seasoning, Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. and DAK’s Spices.
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