By KRYSTI SHALLENBERGER
Mike Reardon has always been an innovator. He worked for construction companies for 20 years and started Invent Alabama before launching his latest venture: Amelia’s Spicing Pecans.
“I’ve always enjoyed cooking, being creative and coming up with new ideas,” said the Inverness resident. “That’s my tagline on this product: be creative.”
The idea came when Reardon was tossing up a salad with the help of his daughter, Amelia, a seventh grader at Oak Mountain Middle School.
“I roasted pecans to add them to salad, and it came to me that it would taste better if the pecans themselves had some kind of spice already,” he said.
Seeing a huge market in spicy foods, he started with a hot and spicy flavor, which after a few seconds in my mouth had me desperate for a glass of water. Reardon played around with the pecans, experimenting with different oils to flavor the nuts: herb, coffee, cinnamon and the original hot and spicy.
With that, Amelia’s Spicing Pecans was born.
Food scientists told Reardon that his idea was interesting but very difficult, but that didn’t stop him from making it work.
“People ask me how I came up with this, but really I just experiment and try out different approaches all the time,” Reardon said with a smile.
Those who buy the pecans have used them on grilled cheese sandwiches, salads, sweet potatoes and cheesecakes. Reardon likes to sprinkle them in his omelets. I tried the herb-flavored pecans in my potato salad, and it added an extra zing to the familiar dish.
Bloggers have come up with unique ways to use the pecans in Banana Bread, Apple and Herb Spicing Pecan Risotto, Cinnamon Pecan Yogurt and Espresso Pecan Biscotti. To see these recipes, visit http://www.280living.com.
Amelia’s Spicing Pecans have attracted attention outside of Birmingham, too. A chef in Jackson, Miss., asked for some samples and now uses them in a popular Brie cheese appetizer on his restaurant’s menu.
All this success doesn’t stop Reardon from thinking ahead and moving forward with this business.
When asked if he was satisfied with his success so far, Reardon said, “Heavens no! I want it to be bigger than it is. I’m very excited about this idea, and I want others to be excited about it too.”
Amelia’s Spicing Pecans are sold at Cowboy’s on Highway 280 and at Pepper Place market downtown and, according to Reardon, hopefully will be found in Piggly Wiggly and Whole Foods soon.
For more information about Amelia’s Spicing Pecans and recipe ideas, call 789-1558, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.spicingpecans.com or find them on Facebook.