I wouldn't say that the Cosentino's Brookside Market is doing an exactly stellar job in displaying the locally made food products created by former restaurateur Nina Ward (her family owned the Jose's Mexican restaurants in Johnson County back in the 1980s). I only discovered her Raspberry Jalapeno Dip and Luscious Lemony Cheesecake Fondue when my shopping cart veered into a lower shelf, nearly tipping the collection of big, heavy glass jars onto my foot.
But as far as Ward is concerned, it's less about where local stores place her products but that they carry them. Ward currently has her cheese dips, fondues and salad dressings at McGonigle's Market, the Kitchen Thyme store in Briarcliff Village, and Lee's Summit's Thyme for Everything shop.
Ward launched her company, KC Innovations, in 2007 with a bang: a collection of eight cheese dips. She currently manufactures Green Olive & Pimento Cheese Dip; Raspberry Jalapeno Cheese Dip; Pineapple Jalapeno Cheese Dip; Chipotle Cheese Dip; and her most recent product, Artichoke Leaf Cheese Dip, which is her top-selling product, she says. Ward started bottling products two decades ago, when she manufactured store versions of the Jose's restaurant salsa. That product has been off the market for years, but Ward is planning to reintroduce a new version this year, to be sold along with her three salad dressings: a balsamic vinaigrette, an Asian ginger vinaigrette, and a red onion vinaigrette.
"I've got lots of ideas for new products," says Ward, who plans to introduce an anise-flavored savory Italian biscuit when she displays her wares at the Kansas City Flower & Garden Show in Bartle Hall later this month. "It's not a biscotti, it's a biscuit that I eat with butter or jam," Ward says.
And, in the meantime, she continues to show off those heavy glass jars -- which weigh nearly as much as a cannon ball -- wherever she can find a venue that lets her set up a display table.
Ward explained the heavy jars this way: "People like to give them to friends as gifts. These look like gifts!"