A classic tale of a man with an entrepreneurial spirit and pristine cooking skills, the story of Jamal Etienne-Harrigan and Uncle Jammy’s is destined to leave a smoky, sweet taste in your mouth.
Located in nearly 30 stores across the state of Pennsylvania including Whole Foods, Pittsburgh-based, small business and best friend to BBQ staples, Uncle Jammy’s is on it’s way to becoming a household name.
“The interest in our products has grown, you can definitely use the term ‘cult following’,” said Etienne-Harrigan. “I don’t consider Uncle Jammy’s to be mainstream just yet, but you hear whispers of people who say they know Uncle Jammy’s which is a good thing and hopefully we’ll make the turn to mainstream, but right now I’m just focused on delivering a good product.”
Much of Uncle Jammy’s success can be attributed to its unique and tasty flavors. Flavors of avocado, classic barbeque, sriracha, and more can found in Uncle Jammy’s fan-favorite sauces and rubs.
While Etienne-Harrigan uses his ability to discover an otherwise untapped flavor profile to his advantage, he also hones in on the spices and seasonings people have come to know and love.
“People come back because we’re a fusion of unique and familiar tastes,” said Etienne-Harrigan. “We take that Kansas City, Midwest sweet flavor and the vinegar of the South so it gives it a very unique taste and I like to be creative and offer an usual, but favorable experience.”
Something of a free-spirit with a drive for creative condiments, Etienne-Harrigan says that while his journey to entrepreneurship wasn’t always filled with glitz and glamour. In fact, his sauce and rub line comes from very humble beginnings.
“It was basically just a snap decision [to start Uncle Jammy’s],” said Etienne-Harrigan. “Opening a restaurant can be expensive and Pittsburgh was unfriendly so it seemed like the cheaper option.”
Etienne-Harrigan found his love for cooking through experimenting with different flavors while growing up in his mother’s kitchen as an adult working in the food industry. He says his journey is a simple one fueled by the need for independence and
“My life is pretty much the story of a journey. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do other than not work in an office,” said Etienne-Harrigan. “I value my independence and I didn’t have it all together, but after working in a restaurant as a server and doing all that I did, I really started having fun with it and [Uncle Jammy’s] started coming together.
“I would like to go national, start to do some of the restaurant concepts I’ve been thinking about,” said Etienne-Harrigan. “I’d love to make this business a stable one, incorporate food and become an employer.”