A spatzle business idea takes shape
Spatzle, a traditional German dish made with wheat flour and eggs, can cause heartache for those who love to eat it, but can't due to a gluten-free diet. And that's what happened to Marty and Julz's Irion, owners of The Vermont Spatzle Company, located in Arlington. Going gluten-free meant forgoing spatzle, a dish that Marty — born in Germany — grew up eating.
After Julz was able to put spatzle back on her family's table, she and Marty decided to share their good fortune with the community.
The Vermont Spatzle Company began last June when the Irions set up a table at the Burdett Commons farmers market in Arlington. Julz admits that she was a little nervous. "What if people don't like it," she thought.
Ultimately, there was no need to worry. All the spatzle sold out on the first day, and within a month their product was well-known in the region.
To keep up with demand, Julz spends countless hours a week in the Spatzle Haus, an efficient 135 square foot commercial kitchen in their backyard, where she makes on average 500 to 600 pounds of spatzle per week. It's a labor-intensive process, but within a matter of months Julz had perfected her technique. Now she can make three batches in about seven hours — a process that involves moving fifty pounds of batter, times three, from a mixing bowl to the counter and then using a press to turn the batter into round noodles.
Although The Vermont Spatzle Company makes a gluten-free product, you wouldn't know it. Julz's recipe has the taste and texture of traditional spatzle that can only come from seven years of experimenting and cooking with quality foods like fresh Vermont eggs, Thompson milk, and non-GMO ingredients.
"It's the old new way to cook again," says Julz when discussing how their spatzle fits with the growing popularity of eating "real food" and supporting local businesses; a theme that helped Peter Hopkins of Pownal win the Bennington Farmers Market's macaroni and cheese competition. Hopkins, who used The Vermont Company Spatzle as the pasta in his dish, had purchased all the ingredients for his winning recipe at the Farmers Market.
As it takes teamwork to run a business, Marty is out delivering their orders while Julz is busy in the Spatzle Haus. During the week he drives a 450-mile loop making drop offs, searching for new retail outlets, and offering tasting demonstrations to potential clients. Marty, a natural salesman, is constantly expanding their clientele — his newest addition is the Richmond Market in Richmond.
Because of their busy schedules it might seem like you would never see Marty and Julz together, but that's not true. You can meet them both at The Rutland and Schenectady Winter Farmers Markets. Just look for the couple wearing "keep calm and eat spatzle" t-shirts and driving a Volkswagen Beetle with their company name on the side.
They will also be at "Taste of Vermont" in Stratton on March 24.
While Julz enjoys the cooking side of the business she says she looks forward to the farmers markets and events where she can get out and meet fellow spatzle eaters. She likes to share recipes and she says she gets new ideas from listening to the customers.
With less than one year of business under their belts, the Irion's have defied the growth potential of a fledgling company thanks to the power of spatzle and perseverance.
For more information on where to find The Vermont Company Spatzle and for recipes go to their website at www.vtspatzlecompany.com or look for them on Facebook and Instagram.
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