At the start of 2020, a family of foodies in Fergus set out to make chicken salt and turned the Australian craze into a business.
Now the Jardine's are hoping The Salted Rooster will become the "Ben & Jerry’s of seasoning."
“We’re food nerds,” said Will Jardine, one of the co-owners with his mother and father, Mary and Brian Jardine. “We just love to sit down and sort of play around, and see how we get the most out of a dish, or baked goods, or what trend is this and how we can do that, and that’s how this (The Salted Rooster) has sort of grown out to what it is.”
Jardine said chicken salt for Australians is the equivalent of gravy on fries for Canadians.
“It’s got a good harmony of flavours. You get a little bit of a chickeny burst, like you would with rotisserie chicken, but you get that nice hint of salt as well,” Jardine said, describing the seasoning. “It’s a lot of flavours at once just all packed into one.”
With many different origin stories for chicken salt, Jardine said it’s hard for him to pinpoint where it comes from. His understanding is that it emerged in Australia during the 1970s and was used on takeout rotisserie chicken.
Today, Australians put chicken salt on top of french fries with salt, pepper and vinegar.
“It tells me that Australia has some culinary gems that we don’t get exposed to," Jardine said. “We haven’t gone yet, but (we are) planning on going at some point in the future.”
He and his family first learned about chicken salt from a friend who was working in Australia. Unable to find it in stores, and with shipping fees for Australian chicken salt being too expensive, the family decided to make it themselves.
It took the family three to four months to figure out a chicken salt recipe they all liked. During the process, Jardine adds they even enlisted the help of an ex-pat Australian to get feedback on their chicken salt.
“He actually, at one point, gave us some brands from there that he had brought from Australia,” said Jardine. “We also sort of sat down with him to see how we can get the best out of it.
“It was something that consumed us in a way, I don’t know how to explain it, but we put it on pretty much everything and we decided to start selling it.”
In his family, Jardine said they enjoy putting chicken salt on cauliflower, but not on vanilla ice cream. He explains a man once told his father he put chicken salt on ice cream.
“We literally sprinkled chicken salt on it and that was horrible on that,” Jardine said about all three of them trying it. “That’s the one I will make an exception on. Don’t put it on your ice cream.”
The Salted Rooster launched January 2021 in a store in Kitchener, and is now sold in stores across Waterloo Region, Wellington County and Sauble Beach. Jardine mentions they do local delivery and online sales, where their chicken salt has been shipped to every province.
“All across Canada we’re getting some interesting traction, people are looking for it,” he said.
Besides offering a traditional version of chicken salt, The Salted Rooster also sells a jalapeno flavoured chicken salt. Jardine said he and his family will continue to play around with their recipe.
“Ultimately we’re foodies, but we’re always looking for new trends,” said Jardine.