If you're serving chips and salsa for your Super Bowl party, the fresh salsa judged "best in America" is made right here in the Tampa Bay area. It's Tod's Gourmet Salsa, made by Spring Bayou Foods in Tarpon Springs.
WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN, MAKE SALSA
Spring Bayou's CEO, Tod Eckhouse, got into the salsa business when the chips were down, in the great recession in 2008. His real estate development career went bust.
"So, I created my own stimulus package," he told me when I first covered his story.
He's working to align his salsa with a major food distributor so that it can be sold in supermarkets.
"I've been a small business. Now, I'm ready to be a big business," he laughed.
THE THRILL OF VICTORY
Tod started making salsa years ago, serving it to friends. With trial and error, and a lot of tasting, he developed his secret recipes.
Recently, his Florida Mango Salsa won a gold medal at the Scovie Awards judging in New Mexico. His unusual green kiwi salsa and his tomato chipotle also won medals.
"I knew my salsa was good," he said. "But, it was our first national competition, so, yes, I was pleasantly surprised and excited when we won."
CHALLENGES AND CHAMPIONS
It's truly a mom-and-pop success story. Tod's wife, Louise, developed breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy and a double mastectomy as they were building their business.
"We're just so proud of Louise," continued Tod. "She just kept on working through it all. She wouldn't let it stop her."
Now, she's healthy and making salsa with a passion.
"Through it all, we just took it one step at a time, one day at a time. That's how we did it," she said.
If champions are made from challenges, these gold medal winners built their comeback story on determination and salsa.
Tod's Gourmet Salsa is served in local restaurants and available at several local retail outlets. For locations, visit their website: www.todsgourmetsalsa.com
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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