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Morris Kitchen Co-founder Kari Morris (left in the picture at the top of the page) says that she fell in love with the versatility of a bottle of ginger syrup on her host’s dining table, during a trip to the South of France. Back then working in the arts, she made her first experiment in her apartment’s kitchen, testing the right mesures with her professional chef brother. Since 2009, the company that the two started together has sold hundreds of thousands of syrup bottles.
Her creations - to be consumed in mouthwatering cocktails and inventive recipes – are available alike in specialty delis and well-sourced establishments such as Williams Sonoma and Dean and Deluca. Kari explains how their initial idea about running a bespoke food event agency, reincarnated into a small batch syrup company. She also transmits the spirit of running a food business from Brooklyn, the vibrant epicenter of East Coast’s small batch food scene.
When was the moment that you realized you are going to dedicate full-time to Morris Kitchen?
After a small market that we did with my brother who is a professional chef and my business partner - in a church basement in Greenpoint Brooklyn. We made 40 bottles of ginger syrup with a recipe that we perfectioned at home and sold out in just a few hours. After this we decided to take the idea and try to make it into a business.
How do you source your ingredients and where are your recipes inspired from?
We use seasonal New York apples, rhubarb and honey. We puree, juice, steep and preserve produce with salt and cane sugar, allowing us to create original recipes year round. Our ingredients are all natural and, as often as possible, sourced from local farms and orchards. Also, the potency of our syrups means that a little goes a long way.
Among the various collaborations that you have had so far, which are the most special for you and why?
I loved working with Bear Pond – a great Espresso Company in Japan. They have so much dedication to quality and creativity. I also got to work with a good friend from art school, Jefferson Cheng to who create our brand label and illustrate our products.
Morris Kitchen’s blog is full of great cocktail recipes and prep tips but what kind of drinks do you serve when you have friends coming over at your house?
I usually serve one drink to start, where I play with our syrups. Then we switch to wine or beer. When it’s a special night then we might end with bourbon at the end of the night on the rocks.
What kind of shops or individuals are Morris kitchen’s most frequent customers?
Cooking enthusiasts, people who like to mix drinks at home and entertain.
What’s the most unexpected use ever tasted for one of your syrups?
They are queite versatile, so they spontaneously inspire adventure in the bar and kitchen. Every meal of the day has been covered – You can combine one part syrup to five parts sparkling water for a homemade soda. Or make cocktails by mixing with liquor, and fresh citrus. Or pour over ice cream and fruit and yogurt, use as a marinade for meat or fish, and create salad dressings.
What is the most important thing that being a food entrepreneur has taught you?
That you have to love what you do, because it's a lot of work and the reward is in the work!