Grants Oak Smoked making Old World recipe a new hit

The Grants Oak Smoked employee crew at Seafood Expo North America 2023

Starting in July 2022, Grants Oak Smoked began focusing a big chunk of its efforts on developing a salmon jerky for a prominent retailer.

Grants Oak Smoked Founder Jonathan Brown said the product-development process led the company to acquire another firm owned by a Polish family, making sure the family had equity and ownership as they jointly developed a salmon jerky. 

“In the process of doing that, I discovered that the family’s background and heritage was from the Czech Republic,” he said.

One of the family members and employees, named Peter Kubis, told Brown his family had an old recipe for salmon sausages, and he suggested the company try to develop it alongside its work on the salmon jerky. 

“He kept raving about it, saying ‘I know how to make a sausage, it’s from salmon, and it’s exceptional,’” Brown said. “I was like, ‘Peter, let’s stay focused. We’re trying to make jerky here!’”

The matter was relatively settled until one afternoon, Brown heard a knock on the door of his home. It was Peter with a big box of homemade salmon sausage.

“I’m looking at it, and I’m thinking, 'I don’t know. This stuff looks disgusting.’ So I give him a big hug, thank him, put it off to the side. He heads out, and I decide to cut into it and I eat it, and I’m like, 'This is the nicest food I’ve eaten in the last five years,’” Brown said.  

One taste was all it took for him to immediately realize that it could be the company’s next big product. 

“I was shocked,” Brown told SeafoodSource during Seafood Expo North America – running from 12 to 14 March in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

By sheer coincidence, that following Monday, the retailer Grants Oak Smoked was working with was going to be testing some of the salmon jerky.

“So I put in a couple of bags of this sausage and I said ‘Try this,’” Brown said. “I get a phone call, and they said, ‘This is one of the nicest products we’ve tried, and we’ve scoured the world looking for new products’”

That endorsement settled it, and Brown decided to enter the salmon kielbasa into the Seafood Expo North America Seafood Excellence Awards and the expo's New Product Showcase to begin marketing the product. The product is a salmon-based kielbasa with a collagen casing that comes pre-cooked and can be cut and eaten cold. 

The company brought along samples of the new product to Seafood Expo North America, which Brown said has kept everyone who has tried it coming back for more.

“We just started on Sunday cutting the sausage and we have had people dragging family members, dragging customers, suppliers from all over the world saying, ‘You’ve got to try this stuff,’” Brown said.

Those reactions, he said, are a big reason why he’s going to begin acquiring the necessary equipment to manufacture the new product, which he’s considering rebranding for the charcuterie space.

“It’s a six-ounce item. It’s got an incredible shelf life – we know we’ve got 60 to 90 days on it vacuum-packed and refrigerated, and we’re very proud of it,” Brown said.

Brown said he’s been in touch with Kubis about the new product, and that his grandmother Maria’s recipe is going to be famous.

“We’re going to make this a USD 10 million [EUR 9.3 million] item in the next 18 months,” Brown said.  

Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource


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