Stuart's Spices was founded in 1992 by Stuart Schultz in Rochester, New York. At the beginning, he sold pre-packaged spices at the Rochester Public Market. It wasn’t long before he began to experiment with making his own blends and shifting from pre-packaged to grinding at his own location. Over time he expanded the business to include a store on Lyell Avenue.
Tom Finnefrock, a grill/barbecue/smoking aficionado, was a devoted customer of Stuart’s spice blends and sausage seasonings. Tom found out that Stuart was considering retiring from the business. The timing was great as Tom was looking for a new career, and so he and his wife Vicki acquired the business.
In the first few years under Tom and Vicki’s direction, the business experienced considerable growth. The Lyell Avenue location was bursting at the seams, creating the demand to find a new space. Tom and Vicki decided to relocate to 754 South Clinton Avenue, on the edge of Rochester’s South Wedge neighborhood. With the move came ample space for grinding, packaging, warehouse storage, an office, and, most important to the retail customers - a spacious showroom that’s large enough for events and classes.
Stuart’s Spices grinds many of its premium quality spices including black pepper, cinnamon and cumin, right on-site. Their large variety of spice blends are all custom created, original recipes. Every item is prepared in handcrafted, small batches to ensure freshness. Proprietary blends for barbecue businesses and butcher shops are also developed at Stuart’s. Their level of quality and responsiveness is proven by the customers who come back again and again.
Tom loves experimenting with grilling, smoking and sous-viding, and he loves to share his knowledge of the best spices for any meat and every possible cooking technique. Tom has developed many of our newest rubs, sausage seasonings and do-it-yourself kits. He has developed handouts to help cooks take on more complicated meat preparation, so you can take his guidance home.
Vicki oversees the retail showroom and the online marketplace. Her cooking knowledge complements Tom’s perfectly, as her focus is on vegetarian cooking. Vicki’s popular “Tip & Idea” cards are handouts that cooks can take home. They are packed with novel ideas for adding flavor with seasoning blends.
Food scientist Vince has been with the business since it was owned by Stuart. Whenever a new seasoning blend is proposed, Vince’s expertise in how spices react and their chemistry in cooking provides the foundation for the development process. Customers rely on Vince when they have a technical question about how spices will perform or if they are curious about the botanical relationships of herbs and spices.
How we get from a 110-pound bag of whole peppercorns to your favorite rub -- that’s where Mark comes in! Pallets full of premium quality herbs and spices arrive at Stuart’s, and it’s up to Mark to grind and mix these to create our signature blends and customers’ proprietary blends. It’s an exacting process - not only must recipes have the correct measure of ingredients, but each has a different grain size and consistency that must be precisely guaranteed.
Megan is the go-to person for Stuart’s Spices packaging department. She keeps track of what’s needed in store and at the public market and schedules accordingly. From Stuart’s small retail pouches up to 25 pound boxes, accuracy is her forte. If you’ve received a carefully nestled package from an online purchase, it was likely Megan who prepared it. When the event or holiday calls for a unique spice art creation, it is Megan’s creativity on display. She also works daily on website and social media updates.
Amy can be found communicating with the world about the next big event at Stuart’s and keeping the office organized. She actually thinks Quickbooks software is fun! Amy designs advertising and point-of-sale displays, writes about Stuart’s for publications and assists with online updates. She is a familiar face in the showroom, offering spice tips and cooking suggestions to our customers. Amy does all of this while interfacing with our key retail partners and restaurants.
Stuarts Spices has become not just a shopping destination, but a place known for classes and private events with a spice theme. Vicki directs private "theme" events that feature cooking with spices for holidays or special occasions. Vicki and Amy co-present classes on spice history, cultivation, harvesting and distribution. For meat preparation classes, Tom takes over the instruction. A new addition to the shop's fun events are "make-your-own spice crafts."
Everyone at Stuart’s can be found helping out in the retail shop!