Christina Shellhart is bringing a little bit of sweetness to Springfield, Missouri: Her company, Half Crocked Chef, which specializes in locally sourced honey and spice blends. Last year, Half Crocked Chef launched a new product line, Fleur de B, which pairs infused honeys with signature tea blends. Several years ago, the restaurant-industry veteran ditched refined sugar for healthier, more natural options.
That’s how she found yaupon-based teas, which are made from a North American evergreen holly bush. Shellhart found that the yaupon teas were easy on her sensitive stomach, and she decided to spread the word by pairing teas with the locally made honey she sells at area farmers’ markets. Pairings include Fleur de B Mo Maple Syrup Honey with a dark roast yaupon, and Cinn-Full cinnamon-honey blend accompanied by a yaupon chai tea.
How did you first develop an interest in honey? It all started when I decided to reduce the refined sugar in my own diet. I became fascinated with bees – they’re absolutely amazing – and started researching honey products on the market. I used my own culinary background to go from there. I’ve recently gotten involved with honey production for the first time, and it’s just fascinating to see.
What inspires Fleur de B’s honey and tea pairings? I’ll look at food magazines like Bon Appétit and Saveur, then I’ll look at things from an international perspective. I’ll walk through the farmers’ market to see where we’re at with produce; for example, if local vendors are planting blackberries, I’ll look at a blackberry-inspired pairing. As far as the honey goes, I’m always looking for different beekeepers. Different hives have different floral sources, which informs the pairings as well.
What’s next for Fleur de B? I found some friends willing to install hives with the help of Jeff Maddox, a local beekeeper with 417 Bees. We’re looking at installing hives at a few different places, including Lavender Falls Farm; if we place hives at the lavender farm, that honey will have its own unique flavor profile. We’re also working on some dessert items that we’re planning for a summer debut. We’re starting with sponge candy made with lemon and lavender honey, and an ice cream that will pair with the lemon and lavender honey.
Half Crocked Chef, Springfield, Missouri, halfcrockedchef.com