Editor's note: Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday. But, in June, in honor of Father's Day, we're featuring local dads. Today, meet Austin Williams, creator of The Shizzle jerk marinade.
By day, Austin Williams is a partner in real estate development firm Crosland Southeast. All of the time, he's the Raleigh dad of two and the lover of all things related to jerk chicken. In fact, he loves the dish so much, he's created a jerk marinade that's now available for sale around the world.
I checked in with Williams to learn more about his passion and his creation, The Shizzle. Here's a Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: How did you get to be the guy behind The Shizzle?
Austin Williams: I have had an intense passion for Jamaican jerk-style grilling after discovering jerk chicken 20 years ago. My quest to turn this passion into a business occurred organically over many years. In 2009, there was very little real estate development to do, and I decided to commercialize my favorite recipe to see if any major retailers would carry it. With nearly 1,200 stores on board in 2017, I am starting to believe people like The Shizzle!
GAM: Tell us about the sauces. Did you develop them on your own? Have you always been a regular at the grill?
AW: Yes, I have always been a griller. I did a lot of bonding with my dad around the grill growing up.
Since then, grilling has been big part of my life, and a way to celebrate good times with friends and family. The Shizzle jerk marinade is my own creation. Over a five year period, I sought to create the perfect balance of herbs and spices, rooted in the sacred tradition of Afro-Caribbean barbecuing. The end result is actually distinct from the most Jamaican jerk sauces which use a base of green onion mash.
The Shizzle is made with a special salted pineapple mash. I do not know of any other jerk sauce made this way. The pineapples give it a unique sweet taste, tenderizes the meat very well and enhance the caramelization on the grill.
GAM: You debuted in 2010. What's the biggest lesson you've learned from running the business over the last seven years?
AW: That persistence can never be over-valued. Opportunity knocks, but only if you go out and find it, chase it, catch it and then walk it over to the door.
GAM: The Shizzle is being rolled out at one major supermarket chain. Where can people find it?
AW: Chainwide at Publix, regionally at Whole Foods (NC, SC, TN, AL, GA), most Earth Fare locations in North Carolina, and randomly throughout the world in specialty stores. We have seen pics of The Shizzle found on shelves in France, New Zealand, and even in the Caribbean!
GAM: What's next for you and The Shizzle?
AW: Over time, we plan to release complimentary products, including hot sauces and seasonings. But, near term, our focus is growing the distribution for our current products (Original Recipe and Voodoo Hot versions of The Shizzle jerk marinade) into the Northeast and the West Coast.
We want to be "everywhere" someday, but we want to be prudent and grow in a calculated manner without sacrificing the integrity of our product in any way. If we do that, we know The Shizzle will continue to win over loyal customers, one bite at a time.
Go Ask Mom features local parents every Monday.