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Deciding on what’s for dinner made easier by Ala Carte Alice


From her home kitchen in Louisville, Mississippi, and now to retail stores across the country, Alice Wooten’s packaged mixes have become big business.

After a long day at work, figuring out what to serve for dinner is often a chore. Thanks to a Mississippi food manufacturer in Louisville, dinner time has become a whole lot easier. 

Like mothers everywhere, Alice Wooten was looking for something that she could do to earn some money while staying home with her children. Ala Carte Alice began in 2009 from her home in Louisville, Mississippi. Alice started her business with packaged mixes for a few food items such as shrimp and grits, soups and a white chocolate raspberry cheese ball. The mixes were popular with busy housewives and working women, as they just required adding a few ingredients to create a delicious entrée or party food.

“We never intended for this to be a wholesale business,” says Alice. 

Yet today, the business is almost entirely wholesale, and it has grown to be bigger than Alice could ever have imagined. With people staying at home more and cooking in their own kitchens instead of eating out, Alice says the company has been “crazy busy.”

Her business grew, almost by accident, when someone gifted Marlena Walters, owner of the Everyday Gourmet kitchen shop in Jackson, with a gift basket from Ala Carte Alice.

“Marlena called me and asked if she could sell my products in her store,” recalls Alice. “I wasn’t sure how to do that.”

Prior to that time, Alice had sold directly to the consumer, so there was no middleman.

“I called the Mississippi Development Authority and began doing wholesale trade shows, like their Mississippi Market. I was soon taking orders from stores all over the state and beyond.”

The business expanded and went from being produced by a co-packer to a facility in Louisville, where all the products are still made and packaged today. As the company expanded, Alice began going to markets in Atlanta and Dallas, and her products were then sold in stores across the country. In addition to being sold in retail stores, the products are sold online as well.

There are now 68 items in the Ala Carte Alice line.

“Our problem is that people at the markets always want to know what’s new. We have been introducing a new product each year at the Mississippi Market, but we never drop a product, because that may be the one product that someone sells the most! We are good at coming up with new products, but not good at taking items away.”

Due to the pandemic in 2020, that year’s new product, Wholly Cow hot cocoa mixes, were introduced at the Junior League of Jackson’s annual Mistletoe Marketplace. The line features six flavors, including deep dark chocolate, peppermint, salted caramel, toasted coconut, roasted marshmallow and white chocolate.

Alice also owns a restaurant in Louisville called The Market. The restaurant is in a renovated 1890’s building downtown, and it has become the unofficial test kitchen for Ala Carte Alice products.

“Our chef is always coming up with ways to use our products,” Alice says.

The products are used for many of the regular dishes at the restaurant, including shrimp and grits and a different one of the soups each day.

“Our chef uses our etouffee as a sauce on blackened catfish,” she says.

The peach jezebel dipping sauce is served with the “Miss’ippi” egg rolls as well as with the crispy flounder. The jalapeno sauce is served alongside the fried pimento cheese appetizer, and the jalapeno marmalade is served with the fried shrimp.

Sometimes, the restaurant spawns new products, which was the case with the glazes.

“People started asking to get some in a to-go cup. It got so popular we decided to bottle and sell it.”

Another product from the restaurant is the line of Red Dog Rubs.

“They are super versatile,” Alice says. They can be used as a rub, marinade or seasoning for steak or other meats, as well as used to flavor popcorn, or mixed with olive oil as a bread dip.

“We use our Greek to Me rub on our steamed vegetables,” says Alice. “There is no butter, but you can’t tell because the flavors in the rub are so good.”

Alice says new ideas for some of the older products help keep them more popular than ever. Recipes, as well as the full product line from Ala Carte Alice can be found on the company’s website here.

Read original article by clicking here.

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