Austin-based Cookwell & Company started out like any successful company should. Two food-loving best friends, Will Petty and Kyle Green, set out to create something they couldn’t find in the market: a way to make fresh, flavorful meals on the fly.
Petty, who lives in Austin, and Green, who is based in Dallas, have known each other since birth. A relationship with that kind of history helps establish the trust needed to go into business together.
It started with a two-step chili mix. More products — salsas, salad dressings, glazes, soups, quesos — and a partnership with HEB followed. Now, heading into their 10th year, the duo’s Better Than Good Bacon Jam got a shout out in the grocery retailer’s 2014 Super Bowl commercial.
“We believe that when you cook well, you eat well. And when you eat well, you live well.” — chief flavor officer Will Petty
“It’s all been a blink of the eye these last 10 years, but a roller coaster ride at the same time,” says Petty, who calls himself chief flavor officer. (Green handles the business side.) “We wanted to make some fresh-tasting items using the best ingredients to help bring people together and to shorten their cook time at home because everyone is so busy these days.”
Petty says he was cautiously optimistic about the Super Bowl commercial, because there were no guarantees his products would be featured. “I got a call from HEB, who needed some bacon jam for a commercial,” he says. “I knew that there was a chance that it would be used, as well as some other Cookwell items.
“I didn’t get my hopes up too much or tell anyone about it and just waited until the Super Bowl aired — and it was true.”
The versatility of its products is a key differentiator for Cookwell & Company. For example, the green chili stew mix — Petty’s favorite — is one of the most popular items because it can be used as a verde chicken enchilada sauce, a soup and stew base, or a delicious addition to any piece of pork.
As for that now-famous bacon jam, Petty says it has turned many Brussels sprouts haters into believers; he recommends adding a tablespoon or two to the now-popular vegetable. He also says it’s a tasty burger condiments or addition to potatoes.
After 10 years of food innovation, these guys are done yet. “We are always innovating and creating new items,” Petty says. “I travel the world looking for new flavors and items and concepts to bring to the market.
“We believe that when you cook well, you eat well. And when you eat well, you live well.”
Although he isn’t sure what’ll hit the shelves next, he can promise it’ll be tasty and easy to prepare. You can buy all of Cookwell & Company’s products online or at HEB.