Inspired by winning barbecue contests, Mike Weeks started making barbecue sauces over 10 years ago. Southern City Flavors' extensive line of products means there is a tasty sauce, jam, or mix for any meal or occasion. We asked Mike to step out of the kitchen for a minute and tell us more about his products and favorite pastimes.
What were you doing before you started Southern City Flavors?
I started Southern City Flavors 21 years ago while I was in Corporate Sales. I worked for Hill's Pet Nutrition for 23 years where I sold Science Diet dog and cat food. Southern City Flavors all started out of my hobby of cooking in Chili and BBQ contest. When my original BBQ won Tennessee State Championship and then won World Grand Championship at the Memphis in May World grand Championship BBQ contest 21 years ago is when I decided to bottle the BBQ sauce. Southern City Flavors started with 6 products and I still sell two of those.
What’s the most surprising thing about running your business?
The number of hours you end up working. Most people think owning your own business would be fun and your would have lots of free time. But it is far from the truth. Most of my friends tell me I work more now than I ever did in the corporate world, and it is true.
When you're cooking are you most happy—at the grill or in the kitchen or somewhere else?
I am most happy when I am cooking for friends and family, no matter if it is in the Kitchen or at the grill or at my smoker. There is nothing more rewarding to me than to see my family and friends gathered in the kitchen or around the grill or at the table enjoy good food, great conversation—to me that is real love.
What makes a good barbecue sauce?
Any all natural sauce that you love! Everyone has different flavors they like. It would be a boring world if everyone loved the same flavor. That is why I have 6 different flavored BBQ sauces and will soon have a new one BBQ Espresso, a coffee flavored sauce. Some like a really sweet sauce, some like a spicy, and some like it a little of both.
Do you have a favorite recipe for your Stone Ground Grits?
Yes, my cheese grits. Cook your grits in 3 parts chicken broth to 1 part grits plus a little butter and a touch of onion and salt to taste. Takes about 30 minutes to cook real old fashion grits. Add Havarti cheese at the end. I like Havarti because it is a cream cheese and I believe it blends well with the grits.
What local products do you use at home in addition to Southern City Flavors?
I am always trying other local products I find, even competitors. Honey, BBQ sauces, spice rubs, jams, pepper jellies. I even recommend other local products to a customer looking for something different than on of mine.
We are all small business people trying to make it. Not like the big corporate food companies who bad mouth their competitors and try to steal shelf space away from each other.
What is your go-to gift to give besides Southern City Flavors?
I really don't have a go to gift besides my products. I like to pick out gifts that match the person I am giving it to. Their personalty and what I know they like and enjoy.