‘There it is’ | Natchez native lands saucy deal with Mississippi retailers
NATCHEZ, Miss. (WLBT) - Real foodies understand that no meal is complete without the right condiments. And one Mississippi native has created a sauce that he believes will maximize the flavor and juiciness of any dish.
Michael Smith, CEO of Creative Condiments Group, LLC, debuts his sauce in Mississippi this weekend - and the name is one you won’t forget.
It’s called, ‘There it is.’
“You take two or three bites, and you’re like ‘oh, it’s nice and sweet,’” he said. “And then the third bite hits you in the back in the back of the throat!” Smith laughed. “And then you think... ‘oh, there it is!’”
It’s a sweet, savory, and spicy mustard sauce that he argues goes with anything.
“Our tee shirts say, ‘we dare you to find something it don’t go on!’”
You can dip your fried chicken or maybe dab your hotdog bun in the sauce during a tailgate before the Alcorn State vs. Jackson State game Saturday. And December 1, Smith will announce the Mississippi stores that will begin selling his sauce. He’s also in talks with Kroger and a Las Vegas restaurant to offer it nationwide.
Smith is a graduate of North Natchez High School and Jackson State University
The CEO now lives in Texas, but as a kid growing up in what he calls the flavor capital of the world, Smith said he was always thinking out to the box in the kitchen.
“When I was a kid, my sister had an easy bake oven, and I made her a green birthday cake,” he said. “She said that day either I was gonna be a hot mess or very creative chef!” Smith laughed.
And the idea to make more out of mustard was born out of need.
“Being from Natchez, we had a product called garlic sausage. It’s the most interesting contraption on the planet,” Michael laughed. “You boil a sausage, then you stick it with a knife or fork, and grease flies out of it, and you peel it back, and you eat it!” he said.
So Michael Smith thought like anyone would - right? What could he dip the garlic sausage in? Maybe something sweet - or spicy - or both!
His journey began, and he spent years mixing and testing and sampling at Sunday dinners, family reunions, holidays, and eventually at community events on his brother’s food truck.
“People started putting it on different things like hot dogs, chicken nuggets, turkey legs, catfish, salmon; one lady put it on fried green tomatoes,” Smith said.
Once he realized he had something special, he partnered with Chef Idalee Carthage, who quickly became his vice president of operations.
“I helped put him in touch with several people who could help him with the labeling, the packaging, and the co-packing,” Carthage said.
Carthage, who had developed and sold her products before, helped Smith tweak the recipe and find a co-packer to bring the sauce to a large scale.
“It is challenging to get the co-packer recipe to have the right viscosity and flavor,” she said.
If the manufacturer didn’t follow specific directions, it completely changed the flavor of his recipe. It was tedious to find a manufacturer who believed in the sauce and could keep it original - but he refused to give up.
“I found another manufacturer [called Creative Food Works]. They tasted it and loved it and got the sauce right the first time,” Smith said. “They are invested in me.”
It’s a significant investment that this hometown Mississippian hopes inspired others.
“I want people to know - don’t let anyone ever tell you your dreams. Learn to modify, learn to adjust,” Smith said. “Don’t take no for an answer and never give up,” he said.
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