Meet the Producer: Laurie Groezinger Cummins
President, Alexian Pâtés and Specialty Meatsuser rating
In 1982, Laurie Groezinger Cummins agreed to leave her lucrative textile career to open a business with her first husband, a German-born sausage maker, to produce traditional German-style deli meats. By combining his centuries-old pâté-making family heritage with her sales and business acumen, they created an award-winning, all-natural meat company that has grown over the last 30 years to include 25 varieties of pâtés and mousses, as well as whole-muscle meats and kielbasa.
Groezinger Cummins’ greatest challenge came in 1994, when her husband passed away suddenly, and she had to rescue and grow the business. “We were not well endowed with working capital at the time. Our home and business was cross-collateralized. The bank was nipping at my heels. And I had two young children who needed me as much as the business did,” she recalls. Not only did she keep the company afloat as president of Groezinger Provisions a.k.a. Alexian Patés and Specialty Meats, she turned pâté into a grab-and-go staple by introducing the single-serve packaging in 1998. Popularity of the pre-packaged slices was so profound that Alexian increased its offerings from six pâté varieties to more than 20 by 2009. Today, the majority of Alexian pâté sales are in the revolutionary 7-ounce packaging. In the wake of the recession, Groezinger Cummins responded by introducing a 5 ounce. portion, which has become so popular that all of the company’s 25 flavors are sold in this size. It’s been a resounding success, not only with die-hard pâté fans but with newcomers interested in their first taste of this gourmet treat.—Denise Shoukas
Laurie Groezinger Cummins shares more with foodspring.com
What’s your favorite product in your line?
Tough call. I actually have two. The first is Duck Mousse with Cognac, which I love to spread on a warm English muffin, and the other is Pheasant and Rosemary country-style pâté that I like to dice into an omelet with broccoli florets.
Who is your culinary idol and why?
It is my first husband who started this business. He apprenticed as a wurstmacher and a chef in Germany prior to coming to this country. He was a master recipe builder of charcuterie product. He could create the most delicious food given any combination of meat and spice ingredients. Meals at home were always interesting because he never made the same thing twice. Alexian is fortunate to have hundreds of his product formulations on file.
What’s your guilty food pleasure?
Taffytown Salt Water Taffy and homemade cookie dough.
What was your best meal ever?
I have had hundreds of “best meals ever.” I could never pick just one. But I can tell you that it was probably French with a reduction sauce, or it was homemade ravioli. In either case, it was accompanied by a mellow red wine and excellent crusty bread.
If you weren’t making pâté, what would you be doing instead?
If I didn’t need money, I would be sailing my boat around the world and eating out every night when in port. During the colder months I would be working off the calories skiing in Europe. If however, I was requiring an income, I would like to teach or promote entrepreneurship to high-school kids.
Aside from your products, what three items can you always find in your kitchen?
Actually, my family complains that there is never any pâté in the fridge; just like the old saw that the shoemaker’s children don’t have shoes. I guess it is because I eat it every day here and never think to bring it home unless we are entertaining. That said, our kitchen always has creamy peanut butter, dark chocolate and several kinds of cheese.