Chef Amy: 2014 surpises, samples, and staff

Chef Amy created a party menu of sweet, salty and savory bites, including salad (with specially chosen oils and balsamics!), just perfect with Alessandra's olive focaccia.
Chef Amy created a party menu of sweet, salty and savory bites, including salad (with specially chosen oils and balsamics!), just perfect with Alessandra’s olive focaccia.

As we look to kicking off the new year, Chef Amy has some reflections on the highlights and surprises of the past year at AllSpice:

Holiday surprises. That Double Chocolate gift bag was the surprise gift bag of the season for me. We knew folks would like it (who doesn’t like hot cocoa, marshmallows, and a chocolate bar? I mean, really.), but folks really, really liked it, way more than we ever would have dreamed they would!

While like Rory said the ready-to-give Barnyard set, the popular Pop!corn seasoning collections, and our newer gift boxes all sold well, many of our customers got creative and put together their own “favorite things” gift box. We saw lots of people assembling salt assortments – this may be the next new trend?

Looking back on this past year, it also seemed as though the oils and balsamic vinegars literally flew out of the store. It’s fun to get the inside scoop from our regular, repeat customers about what they are buying and why. Many folks are coming back for extras to share their favorite ingredients with their friends and families; other customers come back time and again because they’re using AllSpice products primarily in their everyday cooking.

AllSpice_holiday_wrap_stand_shelvesIn terms of staff related changes this year, we gained a new AllSpicer, Anna, who has already shown herself to be a great asset. And we got our dear Denise back for some temporary-but-extraordinary extra holiday cheer.

Fan favorites: I enjoy coming up, month-by-month, with a calendar for the weekly Saturday Samplers, and watching to see which recipes go over the best. This year, it seemed like the snack mixes, especially the ones we make with the Cheddarhead Seasoning and the Sweet Caramel, were big crowd pleasers. We also had really good feedback on the Chicken Thai Dip recipe. And the Spiced Nuts and mulled cider always inspire people to get the ingredients to make their own at home – especially when it’s so cold out!

Events: Our 4th year anniversary party this fall was a ton of fun, both to organize and to enjoy.  So was this year’s East Village Holiday Promenade, back in November. Seems like more people attend Promenade every year. It’s wonderful to see all the smiling faces and excited little ones. It totally gets us all in the holiday mood!

2014_Promenade_4And I get such a kick out of overhearing people tell one another, “ooh, they have spiced cider and really good [triple!] ginger cookies every year.” I like that those have become our signature treats for Promenade, and that people seek us out for that reason, and that all the staff has a hand in baking the cookies and getting everything ready for the event.