Meet the Producer: Lila Randolph-Poore and Rigger Poore, The King's Cupboard
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Lila Randolph-Poore and Rigger Poore of The King’s Cupboard talk about starting their business, creating specialty sauces and the fun of seeing their product label in Japanese.
How did The King's Cupboard get started?
LRP: We had graduated from college, were living apart in different areas of the country and we decided to meet somewhere in the middle. We came to Red Lodge, Montana, where his parents were building a house and just fell in love with it. We both had degrees in molecular biology, but you have to live near a large university to work in that field so we had no way to make a living in Red Lodge. We decided to start a business.
What was your first product?
RP: It was the Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce, which was Lila’s grandmother’s recipe. She was from Kentucky and made it all the time when Lila was growing up. Over the years the recipe has changed dramatically, though. We cut about half the sugar because that is what our tastes were and we’ve sourced the best chocolate and the best cream and other ingredients. We do try to source as much as possible locally. We started in 1990 and we now have 26 products in the line, including a variety of other sauces, cake and mousse mixes and hot chocolates.
What’s your company's best seller?
LRP: It’s either the Bittersweet Chocolate or the Cream Caramel sauce. It alternates from year to year. People love having variety but if you have good basic recipes, that’s what people use on a day-to-day basis. I know it’s what I eat. I put a combination of the two sauces on my ice cream at home.
Any new markets you wish to expand into?
RP: We do retail, foodservice and private label and foodservice is our greatest growth area right now. We have not marketed our products towards foodservice extensively. It has been more of a segment that has come to us. But we’d like to do more.
We would also like to expand our overseas market. We have some big accounts in Japan and, although it is a challenging process getting food approved abroad, you can learn a ton from other markets. It was exciting to see our labels in Japanese. That was really cool. I would love to see more of that.
Are there any unusual uses for your products?
LRP: People tell us that they glaze ham with the caramel sauce. A lot of people use our products drizzled over different cheeses, such as a baked brie with caramel and nuts. And we have experimented in that direction, thinking of other uses for the products or variations on the products. We aren’t, however, looking at big changes. We know this business inside and out. We are proud of the fact that we make our own products and that they are very reliable. We know our food safety is incredible and that’s important to us and our customer base. That makes it a little harder to branch out, though we have also considered making artisan candies based on some of our products.
If you knew it were going to be your last meal, what would you eat?
An Indian dinner at home with our family, followed up with something decadent and chocolaty—of course! —Susan Segrest
Susan Segrest is a contributing editor to foodspring.com and has also written for Marie Claire, the New York Daily News and Prevention.