Two young dudes walk into a bar. And then they start a sauerkraut company, call it Cleveland Kraut and start slaying your nightmares (and what you thought you knew) about fermented cabbage.
Drew and Mac Anderson are brothers. Their sister is Emma. Emma married Luke. Drew and Luke met over some beers, as brother-in-laws have been known to do. They realized they’d both been fermenting stuff in their kitchens. A lightbulb went off, they started jarring their creations and Cleveland Kraut was born. Then, Mac graduated from college, stepped up as lead sales guy and became (one of) the shining golden children of the enterprise: “Mac is like our Lebron James. He’s as tall as Lebron and a superstar when it comes to sales,” says Drew.
Oh, by the way, Emma is totally cool with it all and her gut microbiome has never been happier.
Now, these three Cleveland natives are singing the praises of fermented goodies, peddling their wares all around the country and having a hell of a good time doing it. And despite what you may have heard about families and friends doing business together, this trio says at the end of the day, the most important thing isn’t their kraut, but each other (collective awwww’s all around).
When they do argue, as any passionate young men running a company together do, they say it helps to keep things in perspective:
“If you know that there’s always going to be another problem, then this problem is insignificant.” – Drew Anderson, Cleveland Kraut co-founder
So, what’d we talk about?
The guys give me a rundown on the history of fermented foods, the difference between pre- and probiotics and why things like sauerkraut are so freaking good for us (did you know your gut plays a major part in regulating your mood? Shout out to lactobacillus!)
We also chat about the companies that have inspired their journey over the last few years, what it’s like to work with your literal bros day in and day out, and who would play them each in a movie.
In short, we had a lot of fun with this one. If you’re interested in meeting some of the guys in person, they’ll be at the Artists & Fleas pop-up I’m hosting tomorrow and Sunday. Swing by between 1:30 – 3:30 to give us all high fives, snap some selfies and dose your insides with some good gut bugs.
Make Drew’s guilty pleasure food, Burmese Balachaung:
- 5 cloves fresh garlic
- 1 large onion
- Sesame oil
- 2 pinches salt
- 2, 10 oz (ish) packs of dried shrimp or prawns
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chili paste (optional kick)
- Heat sesame oil in large pan
- Slice onion thin, fry in oil until brown, and add salt
- Slice cloves of garlic thin, sauté until lightly browned
- Grind dried shrimp in food processor
- Brown shrimp for 3-5 minutes
- Add tomato paste, fish sauce and chili paste to taste
- Mix in garlic and onions
- Jar and store in refrigerator
Use as a flavorful condiment on buttered toast, rice dishes, with fish, etc., or to annoy your roommates with the righteous smell.
Show notes [times are approximate]:
What is Cleveland Kraut? [3:55]
History of raw fermented foods [4:48]
CLE Kraut flavors [7:45]
How Luke and Drew got together [between 10-12]
Inception to production [13:20]
Working with family [17:40]
Difference between pre and probiotics [18:21]
Health benefits of sauerkraut [19:41]
How the boys got interested in fermenting [21:46]
Thinking about marketing [25:02]
Inspirations and help in business [27:49]
Pros and cons of copackers [31:15]
How Cleveland Kraut is different [32:31]
Cleveland entrepreneurship [35:09]
Economics of food business [41:23]
Personal evolution [44:56]
Managing expectations of cofounders [46:47]
Favorite food cities [51:35]
Crazy ways to eat kraut [53:00]
Guilty food pleasures [54:32]
Who would play you in a movie? [57:21]
Connect with Cleveland Kraut: