Farmers Market Spotlight: Townie’s Kettle Corn
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Here’s something you might not know — kettle corn pairs well with Chardonnay. Just ask Luke Dudley. He’s the owner of Townies Kettle Corn, a Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market staple.
“It’s a random fact,” he said, “but good to know.”
You might know Dudley and his wife, Emily, from their popular downtown retail store, Ohana. When they moved back to Steamboat Springs from Maui in 2014, they were looking for some supplemental income while they launched Ohana, so they turned to kettle corn.
It might seem like a random foray, but Dudley first learned about the art of kettle corn from his brother-in-law, Jeff White, who owns Aspen Kettle Corn, found primarily at the Aspen Farmers Market.
“Emily and I have been helping him off and on for 10 years,” Dudley said. “And then we decided to try our hand at it here in Steamboat.”
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They were lucky enough to get their recipe from White, who has been written up in Food and Wine magazine for his kettle corn.
“The ingredients are really simple,” Dudley explains. “Just corn, corn oil, salt and sugar, but getting the timing of popping and ingredient mix is hard.”
He’s never had to throw away a batch though.
The duo got their start at the Vail Farmers Market in 2014 and then got into Steamboat as a fill-in booth in 2015. The next year they nabbed a full-time booth, which is located just down the street from Ohana, which opened the year before.
“The businesses are really different, which we like because it gives us something different to do each week,” Dudley said. “But one thing that most people don’t know is that if you spend $50 or more at Ohana, you get a free bag of kettle corn.”
At their Farmers Market booth, Dudley works alongside Kyle Nelson, an Ohana employee who has been with Dudley from the start of the business. He pops the corn while Nelson fills up the bags, which come in three different sizes: snack, $4; medium, $7; and family, $9.
“The kettle corn lasts for about a week, so I always recommend buying a family size, making it last,” Dudley said.
As of now, the Farmers Market is the only place in town where you can buy the kettle corn.
“We love the Farmers Market vibe, getting to see all the locals and guests intermix,” Dudley said. “It’s also really great to meet all the other artisans — there are so many talented people, amazing produce and great food from the area. By the end of market season, we’ve always made new friends, and hopefully, even found some new products to carry in Ohana.”
“People have an interest in kettle corn, so the constant conversation is refreshing,” Nelson said. “Plus it gets us outside, in this great weather at this time of year, and we see a lot of friends and locals.”
If you haven’t tried the kettle corn yet, Dudley will be at the booth for the next four Farmers Markets — Aug. 31 and Sept. 7, 14 and 21 — until it ends for the season.
Nelson insists Townies Kettle Corn pairs well with everything, not just Chardonnay.
“That’s the trick to kettle corn. It’s a little salty and a little sweet — not too much of either,” Nelson said. “It’s perfect for fall weather or with a cold beverage, as well as road trips, barbecues, with a steak, salad … anything.”
They recommend trying their free samples.
“We think it’s the perfect mix of salty and sweet,” Dudley said. “But you can’t try just one. You need a couple to get the full experience.”
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