Husband-and-wife team Joe and Jamie were successful chefs in the Pacific Northwest, but with the arrival of their first child, they opted out of the busy, late-night schedule of a full-time chef for something a bit sweeter for their whole family. Their caramel sauce gained fame in the form of a dessert in a little restaurant
Our interview with Joe is below:
1) What brought you into the sweet business of making caramel?
My wife and I are both chefs, so we already share a love affair with food. When our baby girl was born, we decided that we didn't want the sacrifice time with her, watching her grow up, to work busy schedules and late nights in a kitchen. We packed up and moved to Asheville, figuring we would start with sweet treats and go from there.
2) What makes your caramel treats special?
Definitely the ingredients, and that it's handmade artisan caramel. There's no corn syrup or artificial colors or flavors, and it's made by hand with organic cultured butter and cream. There's a wonderful complexity of flavors in the caramel when it's made by hand in small batches. It's not something people are used to getting from a grocery store.
3) What are some challenges you face in this business? What are the rewards?
Marketing has been a bit of a challenge for us. Because we both really only have an extensive background of being chefs, it's been a learning experience figuring how to market ourselves as unique in a competitive space of artisan sweets. We rely on our customers' palates—that our treats really do taste above and beyond anything else on the market—and on their support of the Good Food Movement. We're a small business, and we strive to produce delicious authentic treats by hand from real ingredients. As for reward...I love working for myself. It's nice to call my own shots and then to see people happy with the caramels. Seeing my desserts become a part of others' lives is rewarding in itself; it replaces what I felt when I was a full-time chef.
4) Where do you draw inspiration for your sweet creations?
We love to have fun with it and let the imagination lead us to unique flavor combinations. It's a competitive space, so we try to be innovative with our flavors. We like to create something that takes people back, like a memory form their childhood, and then add a new tweak, something that makes them say "huh!". We have a chocolate caramel flavor that's pretty popular—people say it tastes almost like a tootsie roll!