Wozz! Kitchen Creations: She’s from New Hampshire, he’s from Australia, and their food is out-of-this-world good.
WHEN Ashley Tommo was growing up in Gorham, she expected to graduate college and pursue her passion of emergency room nursing. She didn’t expect to meet the love of her life on a routine vacation in Key West, travel the world with him, establish an award-winning gourmet foods business and come home to the White Mountains to run it.
But Tommo’s grown to expect the unexpected.
She and her husband Warrick “Wozz” Dowsett are partners in Wozz! Kitchen Creations, a line of award-winning gourmet specialty foods. Business is good and the couple recently began building their own production facility in Twin Mountain.
Dowsett left his native Australia to work as a private chef on luxury yachts. He traveled the world and developed his recipes as he sampled various local cuisines. He and Tommo met in a bar in Key West, she recalled. “His whole crew was hanging out.” Tommo and Dowsett “just knew” they belonged together, after five minutes, and they promised each other to keep in touch. She headed back to New Hampshire, her job and family, and he went on to Cuba with the yacht.
Dowsett spent time with her in New Hampshire, and she in turn went to Europe to join him. They lived in France and Spain, decided to get married in Barcelona, and emigrated to Australia where she took up nursing again. But the pull of home was strong for Tommo, and they returned to the White Mountains in 2012.
Along the way, they began developing their line of foods. Dowsett didn’t want to go back to being a chef, and she recalled him saying to her, “Look, I have all these recipes. Why don’t we can some of them, and start taking them to events?”
“We landed some awards,” Tommo recalled, “and began to think we were on to something.”
“Landing some awards” included 10 top winners in the New York Specialty Foods Awards, five wins in Australia’s Sydney and Tasmanian Royal Fine Food Awards and Yankee Magazine’s Editor’s Choice in 2014 and 2016. They have been featured in “Cooking Light,” “Women’s Health,” and on ABC News and “The Today Show.”
The couple settled in Bethlehem and began looking for a commercial kitchen. The only one suiting their needs was in Hardwick, Vt. There’s an outbuilding at their home which they use for shipping and non-cooking chores. But as the business expanded they knew they needed more room, and closer to home. “It wasn’t efficient to be traveling all the time,” Tommo explained. “We needed to be in the kitchen.” They began work on the production building. It’s expected to be operational in January, Tommo said.
Though Dowsett is the chef and mastermind of the recipes, they are full partners in the kitchen. “If one of us is peeling beets, we’re both peeling beets,” Tommo said. Dowsett is in charge of labeling and shipping, Tommo handles the website, invoicing and marketing. But they talk, every decision going through both of them.
For this year’s holiday season, Tommo is enthusiastic about the company’s cheese pairings, including a Triple Ale Onion Jam spread which combines caramelized onions, roasted garlic and three craft beers brewed in Lincoln. “It’s great with aged cheddar and charcuterie plates,” she said.
Another great cheese pairing: their Balsam Fig Mostarda Spread, billed on the website as “sweet figs and hand cut fresh pears slowly added to a rich balsamic reduction sauce and finished with a touch of mustard oil heat.” Dowsett and Tommo recommend this spread with a Jasper Cellars harbison, a bloomy rind cheese and goats cheese.
Their Sour Cherry Spiced Wine Spread is good with any holiday dish, from pork tenderloin to roast duck to the cheese plate, Tommo said.
They also cater to the sweeter tooth with dessert sauces, including a rum toddy toffee concoction which is good on everything from pancakes to ice cream to bread pudding, according to Tommo.
And they offer curated housewarming and hostess gift boxes, including one with a variety of pizza sauces and one with a selection of dessert toppings
Though their business invites comparison to Stonewall Kitchen, the Maine-based gourmet food giant, Tommo said there’s a difference. “They made $500 million a couple of years ago,” Tommo said. And while she and Dowsett want to continue to grow, they won’t stray far from the handcrafted, boutique nature of their business. “We don’t want to be a ‘grocery brand,’” she said.
“I never saw myself doing this,” Tommo said. “It’s crazy how things happen. But you’ve got to be open to them.”
Wozz! products can be found in the Hanover, Littleton and Lebanon Food Co-ops; Harman’s Cheese in Sugar Hill; Fuller’s Sugarhouse in Lancaster; Hermit Woods Winery in Meredith; Moulton Farm in Meredith; Dimond Hill Farm in Concord; 3 On Main in Contoocook; and Cava De Vino in Nashua. For more information, prices, mail order and a full spectrum of their products, visit www.wozzkitchencreations.com.