After Leroy Bautista was laid off from his job as a chef, he decided it was time to work for himself again.
The chef, who had been working in kitchens for 25 years both independently and for others, decided it was time to start Nic & Luc jam after visiting local farmers' markets. The decision has been a good one, allowing him the freedom to spend time with his boys Nic and Luc, which he named the company after.
“Nic & Luc has been thriving for the past two years. I started it with eight flavors," Bautista says. "At first, they were full-sugar jams, but people wanted less sugar. So I started modifying my flavors and using a lot less than what you would find at a grocery store. We kept adding varieties and have great response to using local produce with no artificial ingredients."
Bautista first began operating in his home under cottage law, but expanded to a commercial kitchen within a year in order to sell to retailers. His wife Aurora, a supporter of the project since its inception, helps her husband sell at weekend markets.
“It happened pretty fast, and we were working really hard to get it out there. It’s been successful, and we’re really proud of it," Bautista says.
Now, the company has 18 flavors including bestsellers like the Scorpion with Trinidad moruga scorpion peppers, strawberry balsamic, and blueberry mojito. Jams retail for about $8 each. Aside from being available in local shops like Cream Parlor and Rail 71 Cafe, Bautista will launch the line at household goods chain West Elm in the coming months.
Bautista credits the success of his product to its versatility.
“The jams go well with cream cheese, they can glaze fish, and can even be used as a syrup to pour over chicken and waffles. We tell people you don’t have to just put this on toast,” Bautista says. “The blueberry mojito makes a great cocktail. Instead of using simple syrup you use a teaspoon of the jam in a shaker, add your vodka and ice, and drink it. People really enjoy that.”
For Bautista, it’s also important to support locals like himself who sell mostly at farmers' markets and use locally sourced produce. “We use locally grown ingredients like chili peppers. We’re a small local company, and we support others like ourselves to help our local economy. When we describe our jams to people we explain to them that we are better for them because of the ingredients we use."
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