Thomas Tilert entrepreneur and part owner of TJ Gallivan’s Pasta Sauces learned about Old World sauce from his mother Mama Alma and his grandmother. The family sauce recipe has been passed down through the family with each generation adding his or her own little twist. His mom tweaked his grandmother’s recipe and he also altered it a little bit making it to his own taste. His sauce is delicious, tomatoey and clings to the pasta much better than my homemade. I think I need some insider information.
Before I go any further, I want full disclosure out there. Tommy is also known as Buff and one of founding authors on this Cookerati site. He’s shared some of his favorite recipes, reviewed a few ingredients and added his two cents in the comments. He’s moved on to other endeavors and though he doesn’t have time for our page because he’s so busy with his own foodie adventure, he keeps in touch and asked for a review of his sauce. My review is hopefully impartial but I thought I’d use this opportunity to have him share with us some of the steps he went through to produce his own pasta sauce. In today’s world of do it yourself, it’s difficult to think of the steps to start out on your own and go up against well known big name corporate products. It can be intimidating, but Thomas Tilert & Co has jumped right in.
Tommy, the chief chef and bottle washer decided to go into a sauce making business based on the recommendations of family and friends who have been sampling his pasta sauces for over 25 years. TJ Gallivans, a family owned and operated business, started in April of 2011 as a labor of love. Their tag line is “An Amazing Array of Bold Flavors”. They currently have 5 sauces (3 pasta and 2 grilling) and 10 different kinds of dry rubs in their product line.
Part One – is our talk with Thomas Tilert co-owner of TJ Gallivans. Part Two is our review of TJ Gallivans sauces and a Baked Ricotta Penne Pasta recipe.
COOKERATI> How are your sauce ingredients sourced?
Thomas Tilert> We use all natural products in our sauces the bulk of which are purchased locally. We are certified fresh from Florida. We also are particular about each ingredient and insist on certain brands of ingredients to maintain the homemade taste integrity.
COOKERATI>What did you have to go through to get your company up and running?
Thomas Tilert> I would have to say that it’s extremely difficult to start a company and there’s no How-To list to from your kitchen to the grocer’s shelf. The biggest difficulty is finding a company ( co-packer) who will manufacture your product in a small enough amount to be able to present it to the people who want to buy it.
I was lucky enough to find a small co-packer and the minimum order for the product was 100 gallons – since I had three sauces the minimum amount I had to purchase was 1500 jars!
Labels and branding is extremely important and I am fortunate to have a family member who is a graphics designer. I believe if you try my sauce you will buy it, but what about the customer who is in the store looking to buy? The label has to be appealing enough to get people to buy it without trying it.
Since I am not in the food business, finding a broker is very important. Some stores deal with one broker and one broker only , many deal with only one or two. There are different margins/fees that each broker charges for your sauce to be sold.
COOKERATI> Where can we find TJ Gallivans Pasta Sauces?
Thomas Tilert> I do mail order from www.tjgallivans.com and I’m in the Fruitville Grove Farmer’s Market and in Whole foods in Florida. We’re working to get into some stores in the Northeast and Byerly’s in Minnesota.
From all of us at Cookerati (wait – I think that’s just me now) to Thomas Tilert and TJ Gallivans …. Good Luck with your new foodie adventure.