Updated: Jun 18
It's been almost a month since the last blog post. Originally, I had planned on making sure that there was at least one new blog post a week and I managed to keep to that... for 3 weeks. Then the farmers markets began to kick into gear and, well, things got a little (A LOT) crazy.
First, I want to address a big loss. We lost a dear family member. David McHugh passed away unexpectedly from carbon monoxide poisoning on May 19th. David was one of our biggest cheerleaders early on, encouraging me at every turn as Kook's Chili began to take shape. We would talk and text for hours as we discussed dreams for the future of Kook's Chili. David lived in Alabama and wanted to find ways to get chili to the South. We would go back and forth on ideas for new chilis, excited for the possibilities. David will forever be a part of what we do and there will be a new chili coming later this year in his honor: David's Dirty Cajun.
Okay, on to happier things. On June 6th we added our 2nd farmers market in Parker, CO and that's when things went absolutely nucking futs. When I was working on getting us into the Parker Farmers Market, I was looking towards our goal of getting Kook's into local stores. The Local, the group that runs the farmers market, has a retail location in Parker where they sell locally produced foods. What I didn't know was that the Parker farmers market is one of the biggest in the state. Our first day at the market we sold out of chili after just 3 hours After 4 weeks of doing the Metro Denver Farmers Market at Southwest Plaza, we thought we had a good handle on what we were doing. We were wrong.
Every week we show up to Parker with more chili than the previous week and every week we leave with empty ice chests. Week after week I've had to figure out how to increase production to meet the demand and, since the start of the season, we have increased production over 200%. Those of you with restaurant experience will understand how challenging it can be to not only scale up production but to also do so without sacrificing quality. Each week I make adjustments and, so far, demand continues to outstrip the supply of chili. Yes, I know, these are good problems to have but there's some stress that comes along with having to constantly adapt our production and processes.
As production continued to increase, my ability to keep up with the "administrative" tasks (like this blog), dwindled and I fell behind on a lot of tasks (like this blog). To help give me some space to breathe and get back on track with things (like this blog), I brought on one of the guys I worked with at Rolling Smoke to do production 1 day a week. Getting someone on board that is familiar with production and has kitchen experience has been a huge help and I'm finally starting to get back on track with non-chili things (say it with me... like this blog).
One of the things I've realized as we've gotten into these farmers markets is that we don't really have any competitors in our market space. Yes, there are lots of people making pork green chile but, beyond that, no one is really making chili the way we do. Certainly no one is making an al pastor inspired chili like Street Pastor. People love chili and they love that we have something that is delicious and makes for quick and easy meals.
If you made it this far through my rambling, I'm officially impressed. This post, like my thoughts, is a bit scattered.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of you that have bought chili, helped spread the word or just taken a moment to let me know that you believe in me when I've struggled. I never expected things to take off the way they have but, as Hunter S. Thompson famously said, "buy the ticket, take the ride". Ride or die, we're ready.