Family recipes often make the best value-added food products. However, the process of turning recipes into marketable food products is often grueling, fraught with seemingly insurmountable rules and regulations as well as market development issues like product packaging and pricing strategies.
For Jessica and Chef Josh Wiggins of Blue Water Grill of Millsboro, the journey from ingredients to Delicious Dipping Sauce was made a little easier thanks to Shore Gourmet of Easton, Md., a service-oriented, nonprofit organization formed to help food product entrepreneurs. Kevin Deighan, general manager at Shore Gourmet, helped the Wiggins with product and market development issues such as packaging, label design, nutrient labeling, UPC bar coding and even figuring out what type of jar to use.
“For years, restaurant patrons have often asked if they could buy Josh’s salad dressings, soups and sauces. We chose the dipping sauce for our sweet potato fries because that’s the one that was requested the most,” says Jessica Wiggins, who handles the “front of the house” of their restaurant business, which they opened in 2007.
"I wanted a sweet, delicious but simple sauce that was versatile enough to pair with everything from seafood to veggies. That's why I created DDS,” says Josh. “With its increasing popularity in the restaurant and several requests from the customers that it should be bottled, it was an easy decision to make when offered the opportunity from Shore Gourmet."
Jessica found out about Shore Gourmet from her father, who works with USDA Rural Development. “Finding the time simply to run our business was challenging enough. Shore Gourmet took all the business development and product issues off our hands. In addition, Kevin came up with the idea to display the product in a refrigerator out in the open so our restaurant patrons could easily see that it was available for sale,” she said.
“There are many food entrepreneurs like the Wiggins who have great ideas for new value-added food products. They just don’t have the time or the expertise in product and market development to make it happen. That’s why Shore Gourmet was established,” says Deighan.
The Blue Water Grill is at 226 Main St. in historic, downtown Millsboro. BWG specializes in fresh seafood, creative specials and gourmet entrees and offers personalized service for special events including birthday parties, retirement celebrations, engagement parties, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners and intimate receptions.
Incorporated in 2009, Shore Gourmet is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to promote and sustain food and agricultural value-added businesses by providing free support to local entrepreneurs to start, grow and diversify value-added food products such as local cheeses, sauces and rubs, meats, soups, seafood products and desserts.
Since its inception, Shore Gourmet has been funded mostly by USDA Rural Development and state grants. Shore Gourmet serves Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Delaware. For more information, contact Kevin Deighan, general manager, at 410-770-4454 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to shoregourmet.com.