June 15, 2022

Spitfire Gourmet (Season 4 Episode 23)

Holly George used her son’s chronic Lyme Disease condition as inspiration to create healthy, wholesome marinades and mixes. Spitfire Gourmet consists of Holly’s 5-generation recipes made easy with her three pre-mixed seasoning packets, each with whole spices and ingredients to support a variety of healthy game dishes from one-dish dinners to soups, and salads, pasta, and sides.

Spitfire Gourmet enables you to Cook tender juicy sustainable meats & veggies for family dinner. Mix with oil & vinegar to marinate meat, and drizzle some on veggies, pasta, rice & salads. Or choose from our easy gourmet recipes

Spitfire Gourmet Podcast Transcript

Stephanie Hansen 0:12
Hello, everybody, and welcome to the makers in Minnesota Podcast. I’m Stephanie Hansen. And I am here talking to cool people who do cool things throughout the state of Minnesota. And I came across a product that was mailed to me by Holly George. It’s called Spitfire gourmet. And it’s wild shaker seasoning packets. And at first, Holly, I’ll be honest, I was sort of like, oh, you know, seasonings, but they’re in little like plastic ziplock bags inside this bottle, and I wasn’t really sure. So then I read about it. And you are actually putting all the seasonings and everything together that people would use for marinates. This is so clever. Thank you. Hi, Stephanie. Hi, welcome to the program. It kind of reminds me of like, when your mom would get Italian dressing long ago, and they buy the wishbone and it came in like paper packet. And then you’d buy the crew it that came with it. So you could have that. It’s really clever. What made you think of this idea?

Holly George 1:11
Well, it’s so funny, because I’ve always been a go to for my friends and family just for entertaining advice and gourmet cooking advice. And I shouldn’t say always because it did not start that way. I have to say what one of my favorite quotes of my life is my husband when we were first married. And he said, Honey, I love you very much. But this dinner sucks. It took a lot of trials and whatever, just with cooking because I don’t like to follow a recipe I like to concoct I call it rather than cook. So I come from a long giant line of gourmet cooks, though. So I think that’s how they learn to and I know that just from talking to my mom and my grandmother over the years. And so these are family recipes to answer your question. So my three seasoning packs are yes, you’re right. They’re pre measured, and they come in a bottle, but it’s super easy. So I put four measured pre measured packs in each bottle. And so you buy the bottle, whatever flavor you want the three and you just open it up, take out all the packs dump in one pack, and then add oil and vinegar just to the lines that are right on the bottle and shake it up. And they make the best marinades. And that’s where that’s where it came from. Originally it was my my family recipe is it’s been around for five generations. And they’re the marinates that my family always used on Game and Fish so but I also have extended that now so you can use them as marinades. But they also work really well as drizzles on roasted veggies or pasta rice, even as salad dressings. So it makes really, really easy, healthy family dinner.

Stephanie Hansen 2:58
So wild shaker seasoning packets are what we’re talking about. And you have I think three flavors now. So can you go through each of your flavor profiles. Sure.

Holly George 3:08
So I have a teriyaki umami, and that one is more of a savory flavor. It’s it’s got a little almost well like a teriyaki flavor to it. It isn’t teriyaki sauce, of course, because I use actually my seasonings are all no MSG and very healthy. So and that’s why you know, these are easier concentrated, you dump them in and add your own oil and vinegar, which makes it healthier. And so that one is that’s the more teriyaki flavor. And the another one is the boozy bullion, I call it because it’s got more of a bullion base flavor to it. Little saltier flavor doesn’t mean it’s necessarily high in salt, but it’s just a it’s just that type of flavor profile. And then the third one is that’s the sweet Tang and that one has a sweetness to it. So it’s each one is very unique and different. But they all work really well as marinates as well as fast as on veggies and salads and stuff.

Stephanie Hansen 4:15
What was it about your family that had them focused on the wild game or fish aspects?

Holly George 4:22
It’s just because I growing up with hunters and my family and fishermen and you know, it was more of the men than the women you know, just traditionally but my husband is a huge hunter. He loves to bird hunt. So we actually and I this is something that we didn’t do that I remember growing up but what we do is we process you know, at home a lot of venison and pheasant and grouse especially pheasant grouse because my husband really loves to bird hunt. And I will freeze what I do is he cleans off the bird Birds, for example, and he’ll take the breasts off of the birds. And then we individually put them on a baking sheet and freeze them individually. So you can just pull them out of the bag when they’re frozen individually like that. But we also will freeze them right in my marinates. So then when they’re throwing, that’s super easy prep, and you just throw them right on the grill. And never overcooked game. Never Never people do that. They’ll overcome game to shoe leather. And then they say, Oh, I hate game. It’s like now you haven’t had it cooked, right?

Stephanie Hansen 5:32
Yeah, that’s I, I would absolutely 100% concur with that a friend of mine is a bird Hunter. And I think it was present. Or maybe it was gross, I can’t remember. But you know, I was really anxious. And we went to his house for dinner. And he had this preparation. And I was sort of like, Oh, this isn’t going to be great. And it was so delicious. And he cooked it just perfect. And it was sort of he had a jalapeno marinade. So it was a little spicy. And I just remember it being delicious. And thinking, wow, I never really cook wild game because it’s sort of intimidating. When you when you think about game, it tends to be a little range year, sometimes a little tougher. And I do think people just don’t know how to cook with it so that you have these marinade is a really nice, easy way to go. Also, like people are buying, you know, bulk chicken breasts, and they’re just so flaccid and gross. If you can put the marinade in them, you know, it really makes the chicken breast a lot different experience. What is your background that you came to this as a business versus just as a home cook?

Holly George 6:39
Well, my background is in marketing. So I’ve been in marketing for almost 30 years, and I just decided that I wanted to have a widget to be honest. So meaning a product. And I always loved to cook. And like I said I’d love to figure out cooking and as you know, to being a great cook. I mean, it’s, it’s the methods, right? A lot of times it’s not it can be you want great ingredients, but you also just learn the methods you learn to kind of slow down and know, let something similar longer then add the the wine or then right whatever. So I just loved figuring it all out along the way. And I thought this would be a great fun business because these were always my go twos for marinating, and like you mentioned with game marinates are the way to go. Because they tenderize while they flavor. And so when you have a cut of meat that maybe is a little more gamey or tougher or whatever marinates are the way to go. Because they cut through that, and especially mine will you know that’s what they’re made for is to really flavor game in a great way and fish and it’s so people aren’t so intimidated by breaking those cuts of meat.

Stephanie Hansen 7:50
So when you say marketing, there’s lots of facets of it. What is your like day to day job? What are you doing?

Holly George 7:56
Well, day to day for marketing. Now I work with a couple clients, but I take them as I want to at this point. So I just worked with a couple of clients. And then otherwise I just meet with people about my my marinade packs and getting them into stores and follow up things like that I actually, we packaged in a certified kitchen. And so I have someone that actually handles a crew that does that and works on my fulfillment and things like that. So day to day I’m working more on my Spitfire gourmet stuff, as well as figuring out new recipes. And it’s kind of a fun lifestyle.

Unknown Speaker 8:33
I’m not gonna lie. Yeah, and I get that and I get to drink a lot of wine, which is something I really love to.

Stephanie Hansen 8:38
So is your marketing expertise, primarily strategy, or are you literally like doing social media or planning, direct to consumer,

Holly George 8:46
I am doing more I do a lot more retail. So I’m doing more sales. So just to talk about the business business aspect of it a little bit. I manage everything and work on top line marketing stuff, but then hand it off to my team. So I have someone that really does a great job with my social media. I have, you know, my fulfillment team and packaging team. And then the sales I handle myself which I enjoy. So

Stephanie Hansen 9:13
So you kind of went for a lot of people, they start making this product and then they start selling it. And it really is hard for them to get to the commercial kitchen side hiring someone for fulfillment you sort of seem like you dived right in there. And now you’re backfilling with the sales channel, that you’re establishing yourself. Does that sound about right?

Holly George 9:33
It does. It sounds easier than it was. I mean, anybody will tell you when they start a business if they knew now what they knew them, they don’t know that they would do it.

Stephanie Hansen 9:44
Can you think? Yeah, can you think of one thing that stands out like that?

Holly George 9:49
Oh, gosh, one thing that stands out, uh, I think my best advice if I can use it that way is don’t throw a bunch of money at something Just Just go try to, I don’t know how I want to word this, just go try to figure it out on your own first because I, I did this thing I signed up for some grocery store, I can’t even remember the name of the site. And it was supposed to connect you with these stores and whatever else. And I had done that before I even figured out which stores I would sell best in, right. So you know, if you’re starting out, do a lot, just bootstrap it, do it on your own, figure it out. I mean, I initially did package these these things, I had a company out of Houston packaging for me, it cost me more, I don’t regret that. Because, you know, you had to have certain certifications and things like that I didn’t want to do it in my own kitchen. But I did it in really small quantities. And so I didn’t really have a lot of margin. And there’s never a lot of margin ensued. But I wasn’t making any money in the beginning, I guess is my point. And so, you know, to spend on a membership for marketing or things like that was a little premature.

Stephanie Hansen 11:02
I absolutely hear that when we add our business, I think of all the things we spent money on in the first six months that I never would have done in the future. Or if I would have known better, but that’s part of the learning too. So I always like to ask entrepreneurs, what mistakes they made, so that maybe someone can hear it and be like, Oh, maybe I’ll think twice before signing up for that. Because everything sounds good. And you you know, you’re excited and you want to have sales and but then it’s like, oh, I should have just waited on that. What when you go and you sell like how do you sell? Do you? Like how do you find buyers? And what is your strategy?

Holly George 11:40
Well, you know, it’s funny, what’s really been working for me lately is our I shouldn’t say lately, but I give 10% of my sales back to conservation organizations for wildlife. And that has really worked well. So I think my best advice there is give to get, you know what I mean? Back model? Yeah, it is. It really is. I mean, if you push too hard trying to just get out there and sell it’s sometimes the universe doesn’t deliver what what it is you’re really looking for it and I kind of just take a step back and think, Okay, how can I really get this out there with a message but and get gain awareness. And that’s when I started giving to it was at the same time that I started getting to Pheasants Forever and the rough grouse society and the muli foundation. So because they do they do banquets every year for fundraisers. And so it was a perfect fit, I thought, You know what, I’m just going to start seeing if they want me want some free product, you know, to auction off and things like that. And that has worked famously. And so it’s really opened doors for me, because then I can call in the areas where those banquets are and just say, hey, they’re doing a banquet we donate and we really, this is the truth we get every just about every banquet, people will set come up to the organizer or whatever as they can I buy these locally. And that’s a great lead in when I call stores and just say, you know, a banquets coming up? I’m not in any stores in your area, would you be willing to try it on your shelf? So it’s just it’s about working those angles and just figuring out you know, what your real niche is? And who’s going to be looking for your product? And then how can you maybe how can you give in a way that would allow you to gain sales and get something back from it? If that makes sense?

Stephanie Hansen 13:32
Yeah. And then you get on the shelf. And then that’s like, 1/10 of the battle, right? Because then you have to like familiarize people with your product. And so what do you do once you’ve gotten on a shelf? Do you sample Do you

Holly George 13:45
Yeah, you know, I encourage the store to sample but because I’m so small, I don’t go in personally sample. And I don’t think a lot of the stores have sampled a lot. I’ve just learned though, that where my niche is, and I really, really do well on in high end meat shops, and, you know, high end grocery stores that have great meat departments. So, you know, like even locally in Minneapolis, I’m in you know, certain stores that make that make the most sense, like Longfellow. I mean, that’s a higher higher end brothers meat and seafood Jerry’s foods with MERS. And St. Paul is another one, I’m trying to think of some of them that I’m in. And then some in Duluth, too, you know, throughout Minnesota, but I’m in other states now two, but I’ve just figured out where I felt the best. And I don’t know that they always have to have sampling going on because the customer coming in,

Stephanie Hansen 14:40
I think to when you’re going to a meat market, you’re probably a little more advanced in the cooking department, because you might be looking for specific cuts or things that you aren’t just going to pick off the shelf. And you’re also probably more likely to try different things. Yeah,

Holly George 14:54
yeah, I would agree with that.

Stephanie Hansen 14:56
I would have one of my favorite stories about winners is my mother in law. Whose 88 went into weird MERS and saw something in the counter and bought it and brought it home and made marrow bones with toasts like she’d had in a fancy French restaurant. And when she went back to get them again, the butcher said, Well, you mean the dog bones? No more no the marrow bones and he said, Well, we sell those is

Holly George 15:27
that funny course. I mean, it’s so good for you that Yeah.

Stephanie Hansen 15:34
So she was laughing. She’s like, I’m buying the dog bones and making my fancy Meryl French mero toasts, dog bones and the Butcher was just kind of looking at her like, wow, okay. So I thought that was a crazy lady. Yes. Now Spitfire gourmet is sort of an umbrella name. And then the wild shaker seasoning packets are the specific marinade. Which leads me to wonder Spitfire gourmet, are you recipe testing and creating other items

Holly George 16:04
I’m at right now if I were to extend the product plan, I’d probably do another marinade. I, my husband is 100% Greek, I would always cook with my father in law, he’s passed away and my mother who was also passed away, but they were my two really inspirational cooks. And so I’d love to do a Greek one. But right now I’m sticking with these three. And so if I ever extended it more at my do that fourth one, it sounds like it’d be great with lamb, the Oh yeah, it is great with lamb or Greek marinade. So and the thing is, too, if I can’t find a way to take it down to a dried level, and still make it excellent and healthy, then I don’t want to package it. Because it’s just a quick side story. I have a son who has chronic Lyme disease. And so these like I said, we’re go twos all the time when I’m when I’m cooking, and now I use my packets all the time. You know, to cook I say I call it cheating. It does make cooking so much easier. Because I’ll throw these no seasonings and all sorts of different dishes. And I have all these recipes at my website at Spitfire gourmet.com. But, you know, so they don’t have to be just marinates and sauces for veggies and, and potatoes and things. But I would cook with these all the time as Tommy was growing up, and he’s out of the house now. But now he cooks with them. So that’s kind of cool. But like, it’s easy enough that you know, kids can cook with them. I still kid even though he’s in his 20s

Stephanie Hansen 17:34
Yeah, exactly. And so I’m assuming that salts was an issue and you had to be conscientious about that.

Holly George 17:40
Yeah, we did. And unfortunately, this is what I hate about labeling because like these are concentrated, right, so marinates have salt in them and they do have some salt it is it’s a sea salt, which is nice. So it is better for you. But it’s you know, you still have to put the salt content but once you shake it up with the oil and vinegar it’s not as you know, concentrated on the salt so

Stephanie Hansen 18:04
and in terms of marinade like I think people obviously marinating meat but you know, you can use them as a base for dressings. You can use them as a base for dip. You can use them for tacos, you know, like marinade is really just have a life that can be it can be turned into a sauce with boiling and exactly what do you think is the most What do you think besides just obviously marinating meat. What is the second most used way that people use your sauces?

Holly George 18:35
Well I know that people love the cheese sauce but I will say that you can make with the Boolean that you just are adding vermouth wine is what I typically add otherwise it can be any white wine and some chicken broth with the cheeses and it’s so good. So I get I get letters emails about my cheese sauce all the time with Lucy Boolean. So yeah, it doesn’t have to be just a marinade and that and that recipe is right on the website so it’s easy to find. Another one is the stir fry with teriyaki umami, you just mix it up with peanut butter and hoisin sauce you dumped in a packet and you can stir fry that with any veggies and meats and it’s it’s excellent. Yeah, the one with the green one is the zesty sweet Tang is the salad dressing people love the salad dressing with it and it’s the same thing. It’s the oil and vinegar shook up Yeah,

Stephanie Hansen 19:26
so yep, kind of an Italian version. Well, we really liked him at our house. Once I got familiar with what I was doing and how I was going to use them. It is Spitfire gourmet. You can find them Spitfire gourmet.com Wild shaker seasoning packets, also look for them at your higher end meat markets. I’m really excited to talk to you Holly and I hope that these continue on because I thought they were really refreshing easy you know especially for cabin cooking to or outdoor cooking, where you are bringing in the dry seasoning and then just adding your ingredients or like You said freezing all of your meats and then you’re bringing your frozen packets in your cooler and, you know then by the time they thought you have dinner ready?

Holly George 20:08
That’s right. Yes, exactly. Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate this. I love cooking.

Stephanie Hansen 20:15
Oh, isn’t that I know. Exactly. All right. We’ll talk soon. Thanks.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai