Inn Step with Bourbon Barrel Foods Matt Jamie

Friends Drift Inn Farm – Real Life and Chefs

Bourbon Barrel Foods Matt Jamie and Momma Carol

Today’s Appalachian News Express carries a story about Bourbon Barrel Foods Matt Jamie and a Sorghum Sugar Cookie Recipe. Here’s a behind the scenes look at Matt, the chef and marketing genius behind the Bourbon Barrel Foods brand.

Soy Sauce, Bourbon, Sugar and Spice
Bourbon Barrel Foods is my new vice!

Bourbon Barrel Foods Matt Jamie Kentucky Proud


I love chefs…they inspire me. They make me think about flavor profiles, food pairings, and new ways to prepare familiar ingredients. The thing is, the chefs I have been interviewing lately are all young and hip. That’s great for an interview, but not always for a big belly laugh. I’m all about giggles you know. That’s where Mommas come in. I’ll explain in a minute.

Matt Jamie is smart. He is handsome. My pointy toed shoes sisters call him “Zeus.” He is tall, clad in blue jeans and a button down shirt. He moves with the grace of a dancer, yet he is masculine and rugged.

Behind steely eyes, Matt Jamie’s wheels are continually turning. When he speaks, his conversation is focused and introspective. A self-taught chef, the Louisville native is out of the kitchen…and into a warehouse.

Gun and Garden Magazine calls him a “mad scientist.” His formula for preparing sorghum renders the syrup smooth, with little of the “after bite” traditional Appalachian sorghum presents. He has perfected the fermentation process of Soy Sauce, using Kentucky grown soybeans which are enhanced by aging in reclaimed bourbon barrels.

Soy Sauce hand-made in Kentucky?

Bourbon Barrel Foods Carol Jamie Louisville Kentucky Proud

Heck yeah! Carol Jamie, Matt’s mom, tells the story of how Matt began tinkering with soy sauce fermentation at the home he shares with his wife and children. Apparently, with several trials going the aroma got to be a little much.

Carol eyes twinkle and she laughs with amusement as she explains:

When Matt was getting started with the soy sauce fermenatation his house smelled. The yard smelled. The whole neighborhood smelled! Finally, my daughter-in-law said the soy fermentation had to go. It was the impetus he needed to go ahead and find commercial space.

Like many chefs with families, Matt Jamie loved his cooking career, but as his family grew he wanted to spend more time with his children. Bourbon Barrel Foods gives him that opportunity.

Bourbon Barrel Foods Family Enterprise

He smiles when I ask about his “overnight success.” It was not an easy path. Bourbon Barrel Foods philosophy is “Slow, Small, and Simple.” You could say his marketing strategy reflects that. Bourbon Barrel Foods products have developed a cult following, mainly through word of mouth and chefs. Chef Sean Brock loves the products so much he named a burger after Matt Jamie! Soy Sauce, Kentuckyaki Sauce, Sorghum, Bourbon Smoked Paprika, Salts and Spices, and the most wonderful bourbon smoked sugars are in high demand. The little warehouse facility may need to expand.

Matt’s Mom Carol was on hand to show us the small production facility, tucked in a renovated warehouse in the Louisville’s artsy Butchertown. She showed us a special machine her husband made to help with the milling process. We got to peer into bourbon barrels where soy was fermenting. We saw grains on drying racks. But mostly what we saw was a Momma very proud of her son, who has a “rye” sense of humor. (Pun intended)

Bourbon Barrel Foods Carol and Annie

Carol and I giggled a lot. When Matt’s assistant Annie showed up, we giggled more. When we were sniffing the wonderful aroma of bourbon smoked salts, we got a huge case of giggles. Matt kind of shuffled his feet uncomfortably….which made us all the more giggly.

I gave him a mason jar of something from the mountains. I think he needed it after our visit. Giggles

Bourbon Barrel Foods is a fun place to visit. I love all their products, with a special affection for their Bourbon Smoked Sugars, Sorghum, and Paprika. Charlie loves the soy sauce, especially on Chicken Wings. But mostly, I enjoyed meeting the folks behind the scenes at Bourbon Barrel Foods. They are my kind of people! Giggles

Check out Bourbon Barrel Foods for online ordering.

Bourbon Smoked Paprika Bourbon Barrel Foods

Friday, I’ll post a little more about sorghum, and a little more about Matt Jamie. In the fall of 2012, I will be taking you “Inn Step” with Matt Jamie and Sorghum production in Kentucky’s Appalachia. Stick around!

Disclaimer: I have received some samples of Bourbon Barrel Foods products, and have bought many more. I paid my own way to the Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show, and paid for all travel and meal expenses occurred with my visit to Bourbon Barrel’s Louisville headquarters. I am not compensated by Bourbon Barrel Foods at the time of this writing.

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About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.