ST. PARIS – The Northern Southern Boys Marinades LLC is poised to launch into area grocery stores this year, according to chef Jason Mefford, who has been selling his products at Char’s Market and Kitchen in St. Paris. Three flavors are currently available at Char’s Market: Sweet Bite, Devil’s Mistress and Poseidon’s Nectar. Mefford said he is working on a second line to introduce once his original three are established.
“The original one was the Sweet Bite that starts out nice and sweet in your mouth and then gives you a little smack at the end to let you know it’s not your normal sauce,” Mefford said. “Devil’s Mistress is just hot enough to make you break a sweat if you’re not used to eating heat, but those that are used to eating heat tell me it’s not hot enough. I don’t want blazing hot. I want something you’re going to eat and enjoy, maybe grumble a little bit. And then Poseidon’s Nectar is mainly a seafood, but you can use it on just about anything else. I’ve thrown it on lamb and it tastes great on lamb.”
Mefford tells people that a little of his sauce goes a long way, because he doesn’t make it using the same ingredients as most marinades. Whereas most cooks begin with ketchup, mustard, vinegar and a tomato base, Mefford said, his secret recipe does not involve those ingredients.
“I call it a marinade/barbecue sauce, and the reason it’s known that way is because it’s so thin you can use it as a marinade very easily, but you can also just work it as a barbecue sauce just as a stand-alone,” he said. “The reason it’s so thin is because I refuse to add certain ingredients just because I find them as cheap, nasty fillers and I don’t want to do that. I want something that’s clean and a little more palatable.”
Mefford grew up in St. Paris and graduated from Graham High School in 1991. He said he took home economics every year that he could, culminating in a practical gourmet class his senior year. He then joined the Navy and spent nine years as an aviation electrician, then began a 16-year career working on the digital equipment beneath cell phone towers. About a year ago during a nationwide mass layoff of cell phone tower workers, Mefford said, he was one of thousands affected, but this gave him more time to devote to starting his business.
“I spent a lot of time on the road, but whenever I come home I’ll be playing in the kitchen,” he said. “Either I’ll have seen something or ate something somewhere and I want to see if I can do it or modify it. I’m always playing with something.”
Mefford began experimenting with his marinades about four years ago. He recently completed testing of his first three sauces at Ohio State University to ensure it isn’t too acidic for human consumption, which will allow him to begin marketing his marinades to a national audience.
So far, Mefford said, he has seen the most growth at Char’s Market, but he hopes to sell his products in other local venues.
“We get a really good response to it,” said Char Hess, owner of Char’s Market. “It moves well for me, but we also use it when we cook out on the smoker.”
Mefford occassionally volunteers to help cook lunch at Char’s Market. He has hosted several events for motorcycle clubs and plans to put on an event for the University of Cincinnati’s Children’s Department at Buck Creek, Clark County, in May.
The Northern Southern Boys Marinades may be purchased through the website www.thenorthernsouthernboysmarinades.com.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304