A Taste of the Kingdom will
heat up your taste buds
The kitchen countertop
is spread with a delectable assortment of dishes fit for any gourmet backyard
cookout including potato salad, baked beans, barbeque chicken and for
dessert cheese cake and brownies covered with cherries jubilee. Julie
Price points out something surprising about each dish. They are all prepared
with chili peppers, including the desserts. And though a sample of all
the food items proves a little warm on the taste buds, the experience
Julie Price serve up picnic food including barbeque chicken prepared
with their specialty food products — condiments seasoned with
chili peppers. A Taste of the Kingdom in Callaway County offers
a dozen tasty, and spicy, products.
Julie and her husband,
Mark, own the small specialty food company, A Taste of the Kingdom, in
Callaway County near Kingdom City. Nearly the entire business is based
on foods cooked in, covered by or seasoned with relishes, jams and other
condiments made from chili peppers and all grown by Missouri farmers.
Mark, a retired oil-industry
attorney, and Julie, also an attorney who worked for a time for humanitarian
relief organizations, lived for many years in Singapore. While living
in southeast Asia they developed a taste for spicy foods made with chili
peppers. When the couple moved back to Missouri in 1997 they began growing
their own peppers to cook with. Julie, who Mark says has a great flair
for food, began making chili pepper-based condiments to give away to friends.
Mark says he was surprised by the popularity of the spicy recipes.
Asia, we suspected mid-Missouri had a bland palate, but we quickly learned
that wasn’t the case,” says Mark. “Missourians like
chili-style recipes if they’re not just hot. They have to be accompanied
by good flavors.”
Julie and Mark decided
they were on to something and launched their company four and half years
ago on the family farm in Callaway County where Julie grew up. But before
the Prices went commercial, hired employees and leased a large commercial
kitchen, Julie spent two years developing and testing potential products
and fine-tuning her recipes.
A visit to their Web
site shows off the wide variety of food products, now at 13 with several
more in development, that Julie has come up with to make with chili peppers.
She’s developed several pepper jellies that can be spread on crackers
or used as a meat glaze or to spice up a barbeque sauce. The spicy temperature
of the pepper jellies starts with the Mild and Peppy and quickly runs
up the scale to the Habanero Xtreme.
Taste of the Kingdom offers sauces, jellies and other condiments and
nearly all are prepared with chili peppers grown by Missouri farmers.
Price’s first version of Habanero Xtreme was not hot enough, according
to several people who tested it. Julie increased the heat using a higher
concentration of Habanero peppers, thought to be the hottest peppers grown.
Now it promises to make anyone who tries it break out in a sweat.
Other pepper jellies
include one made with pecans and apples and another made with Missouri-grown
black walnuts. For those who really want to heat up their taste buds,
Julie has developed several sauces made with horseradish, including the
Wasabi Horseradish, which combines habanero peppers and wasabi.
Julie says she has
worked hard to develop tastes that are not just hot and spicy, but also
full of other great flavors like apples, peaches, walnuts and soon, chestnuts.
All that work is beginning
to pay off, says Mark. A Taste of the Kingdom, after being in business
for several years, is expected to make its first profit this year after
their sales doubled in 2003.
“The first four years were so hard,” says Julie. “We
worked unbelievably hard, seven days a week. It’s all we did. But
the experts will tell you that it takes four to five years of hard work
to get a specialty food company like this established. That just about
what it’s taking us.”
A Taste of the Kingdom
is part of one of the fastest growing segments of the food industry, producing
specialty packaged foods that compete well with the giants of food processing
on grocery store shelves. The Prices call themselves artisan food producers.
foods are typically smaller scale, family owned, high quality and all-naturally
produced,” says Mark. “We’re trying to bring back more
traditional ways of cooking and looking at food. It’s the opposite
of fast food.”
In fact, the Prices
belong to an international organization called Slow Food that encourages
farmers and food producers to change the way people think about eating
and cooking. Mark says the organization is trying to change the world’s
fast food attitude and help farmers, particularly in developing countries.
of A Taste of the Kingdom cooks up a batch of spicey treats at the
company's commercial kitchen in Fulton.
The Prices have come
a long way from just cooking some relishes in their kitchen for friends.
Today they have two full-time and two part-time employees and several
seasonal employees who help cook their spicy recipes in their Fulton commercial
kitchen. Their products are in 37 states including being featured in 20
Bass Pro Shops and they sell their products online through the company’s
Internet Web site.
buying all their chili peppers from two Missouri growers who sold the
Prices 4,000 pounds of chilies last year. One of those growers is Jan
Gray of Williamsburg, who stops in to tell Julie and Mark about new peppers
she’s going to grow this season including a “Caribbean Red”
habanero and a Czechoslovakian black pepper. Jan says there is tremendous
potential for growing peppers in Missouri, where the climate is ideal
and where peppers grow prolifically.
The Prices sponsored
a University of Missouri ag school study of the potential to grow peppers
in Missouri and found that, if markets were developed, could be a $60
million industry in the state. According to the study, an acre of peppers
potentially could produce $6,300 in revenue when sold at current wholesale
But as with any alternative
crop, more markets have to be developed for chili peppers and, in Missouri
at least, the Prices are doing their best.
force for me is our mission,” says Julie. “And that mission
is trying to help each other, like family farmers, and making something
that’s the best quality that you can.”
For more information
about A Taste of the Kingdom e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information is also available by calling 1-888-592-5080.