Labeled "Batch 1’" and "Jar 14;" deep brown Vanilla Bourbon Peach Preserves from Kansas City Canning Co. are redolent of flavor-forward vanilla bean, Kentucky bourbon smokiness and sweet yellow peaches. But for all its complexity, this is only one product created by Tim and Laura Tuohy. Seven Pepper Jelly, Ancho-Date Butter and Fig and Rosemary Spread are other inventive offerings.
The Tuohys officially launch their new company today, with Kansas City Canning Co. products now available at Westside Storey, The Sundry Market and Kitchen and Urban Provisions, as well as via special order.
Selling pickled items, preserves, jams and specialty cocktail garnishes, “We’re looking to elevate the canned good, utilizing as much locally sourced produce and product as possible,” Laura Tuohy says. “We're challenging normal constructs of preserved goods and thinking progressively about palates, uses and [flavor] balance.”
The Tuohys also create custom specialty items such as anise-scented pearl onions and balsamic pickled grapes. “This is borne out of observing cocktail garnishes and thinking, ‘Maybe we can do it better and offer exclusivity,’” Laura says.
Laura and Tim both canned while growing up, she in Kansas City, he in Old Bridge, New Jersey. They continued after meeting in New York City, where she worked towards certification as a clinical social worker at ColumbiaUniversity. Tim studied English and philosophy at FordhamUniversity, and culinary arts at the Institute of Culinary Education.
“We lived in Astoria-Queens and had a giant sour cherry tree,” Laura recalls. “We started selling things we made at local farmers’ markets and pop-ups.” They continued sharing homemade goodies while living in Asbury Park, N.J. and embraced the seasonality in canning.
A job opportunity for Laura brought the couple to Kansas City. Married in April, they have created Kansas City Canning Co. while Laura works as a clinical therapist at the Healthe Clinic at Cerner Corporation. Tim is a sous chef at Beer Kitchen, and a graduate of the Kauffman|FastTrac program, which provides new and established entrepreneurs with business skills, resources and networks that assist in successful operation and growth.
“Laura is the idea person,” Tim says, “and I figure out how to make [the products].” They spend about 20 hours per week canning and packaging everything by hand, and troubleshooting when need be. When a City Market production kitchen was no longer available, they moved to a restaurant kitchen after regular hours. Another frustration: sourcing small quantities of jars.
Although being patient with the business can be difficult, they have a great support system, from their FastTrac mentor, Rebecca Gubbels, to entrepreneurial family members, friends who are also small business owners, and graphic designer Jennifer Bedell of JJB Creative Design.
The Tuohys want to establish ties with small local providers such as New Roots for Refugees – whose produce Tim used for a Beer Kitchen dinner. They also want to have their own production kitchen and employees, and participate more actively in the local food community within the next year.
“We see ourselves being able to contribute to KC’s culinary development by eventually offering a platform/place for people to meet, explore, and curate progressive ideas about food and community in a supportive way,” Laura says. “We're really open to growing with the KC food community in any way we can.”
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