AUBURN — What started out as a hobby for culinary couple Lynn Louise Larson and Brian Atwood has rapidly grown into their own small business.
The couple, who moved to Auburn from Athens, Georgia, almost three years ago, recently opened Back Door Gourmet, which sells homemade, chef-crafted chocolates, jarred fruits, syrups, honeys and vinegars. Atwood, a chef and chocolatier, began making the jarred goods for his wife who used to be a winemaker, to use in her craft cocktails. They also shared their products with their friends, giving them as gifts.
Then, in early November, the couple got a call from Dickman Farms, asking if they would be interested in selling their products at the nursery’s annual holiday open house. A friend had recommended them for the event.
“I ran around and got us permits and all that kind of stuff, made us legit, and we launched our business and it has been booming,” Larson said.
Larson said their first event at the holiday open house was “amazing” and their new business was “received so well.” Atwood and Larson have since sold their products at Bailiwick Market and Cafe, Underground Bottle Shop and the Sinclair of Skaneateles Wedding Expo.
“It’s been kind of a whirlwind,” Larson said. “We have our niche.”
Back Door Gourmet’s jarred products sell from $10 to $35, based on the size and types of ingredients used. The products can be incorporated into drinks, desserts and savory meals. Atwood said they try to use as much local produce as possible. The poached saffron pears come from a farm in Sodus and Atwood uses central New York honey in his lavender honey.
One of the most expensive items is a jar of prosecco clementine figs, which costs $35, while customers can purchase a small jar of marigold vinegar for $10, according to the small business’s Facebook page. Atwood’s chocolates — featuring flavors such as mocha, caramel, hazelnut, blueberry, passion fruit and rum — cost $1.50 per piece.
“I’ve enjoyed the creative freedom,” said Atwood, who works as a pastry chef at del Lago Casino. “I’ve always worked for other people as a chef, basically reproducing other people’s food, but with this, I can put some of my own creativity and my vision of what I want (into the products).”
As for the future of their business, Atwood and Larson have plans to expand to include a custom cocktail consulting business called Spirit Alchemist using Back Door Gourmet’s products.
“In the south, craft cocktails are everywhere,” Larson said. “You go into bars and the bars are lined with fresh ingredients and wonderful things and the one thing I noticed central New York was lacking was craft cocktails.”
The couple also has goals to open their own brick-and-mortar facility that will encompass all aspects of their small business — from a kitchen for Atwood to create his chocolates, to a retail space for Back Door Gourmet’s products and a consulting area for the Spirit Alchemist business, along with a craft cocktail piano bar.
“We really didn’t have any intention of starting a business,” Larson said. “We were just having fun. Since Thanksgiving, we’re just been feeling our way around and it’s been escalating and we just are maintaining that fun factor.”
This content was originally published here.