Though my family isn't big on gift giving, I like to surprise relatives with some small gifts at Christmas.
Back in December when I was going nuts trying to figure out what to buy my dad, I luckily stumbled on the perfect solution during All Arts Market at CenterStage@NoDa. In a pretty little bag with a dazzling lady logo, My Buddy's Nuts (mybuddysnuts.com) were the perfect find.
The company, run by husband and wife Phil Anderson and Bonnie Jones of Charlotte, launched in July of last year and distributes three flavors of bagged pecans to Total Wine locations in Charlotte, Whole Foods in Charlotte, Paper Skyscraper, Common Market and Levine Museum of the New South.
Anderson, a certified executive chef of the American Culinary Federation, left a corporate gig to pursue the pecans, which he'd been making on the side for holidays over the years.
His wife supports him in the endeavors and uses her palate as a tasting platform. Together the pair works out of a local incubator kitchen, Golden Grains Bakery.
In the past, the couple has collaborated for cooking shows, including the PBS series, The Chef's Wife and Uncle Chef, a cooking video series for children.
For 2016, they plan to continue their work with My Buddy's Nuts by increasing locations where the products will be sold and doing more demonstrations.
Creative Loafing: You currently have three flavors of nuts. How did you guys come up with these blends?
Phil Anderson: I've been cooking for a long time and what I really like to do is sauces. I think sauces really make a dish and in order to come up with really killer sauces you need a spice blend. The spice blends I did probably 100-200 varieties, we did a lot of them and then came up with the three- the hot and spicy, the sweet and crunchy and the maple mustard.
Bonnie Jones: I actually came up with the maple mustard. Snyder's pretzel pieces have a honey mustard flavor that I thought could be so great on the pecans. I said that to Phil, but we're non-GMO so the honey mustard, which was the original flavor, had to turn into maple mustard. To be a consistent non-GMO project we had to go from honey to maple. That took it to a vegan status as well. So, we're a gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan product.
The name, My Buddy's Nuts, is pretty crafty. Is there a story behind it?
Jones: Phil's last name is Anderson and my sister and I used to watch old reruns of Father Knows Best. On the show, the son was named Bud Anderson, so I started calling him Bud and Buddy. My whole family calls him that and some of his family calls him that, too. We also talked about him leaving the corporate job security, which was one of the biggest challenges early on.
Anderson: So it's kind of a triple entendre. One, is that my nickname is Bud. Two, is that I'm a little crazy for leaving the corporate world to do my own thing. Three, is that it has got a sense of humor behind it.
One your website there are a series of recipes that use My Buddy's Nuts. What are your personal favorites?
Jones: I don't cook, but I love to eat and sometimes I can put stuff together in my head that I think will go really well together. So, one of my favorites for the holidays is a stuffing with the maple mustard pecans chopped up in it. It's so good. That's one of my favorites.
Anderson: My favorite is the pecan crust, where I chop up the pecans and throw a little bit cheese together and then push it into fish cakes. So, it could be salmon, tilapia or crab encrusted. It's an easy recipe that's really delicious. You can use any of the nuts for it, too.