Eat, Drink And Be indie: Tasty Recipes, Inspiring Maker Stories & Exclusives


Nutkrack founderSome of the best culinary discoveries are the result of fortunate mistakes. Chef Eric Rupert’s caramelized pecans just happen to be one of those good mistakes. One hectic restaurant night ten years ago, Eric dunked a pound of pecans into the wrong pot. Before tossing the botched batch into the trash, he gave one of the nuts a little taste. It was lucky he did.

This simple mistake grew into a passion and obsession that led to Nutkrack. Eric called in 40 (that’s 4-0) samples of candied pecans from all over the country. While many were tasty, he often found that the cloying sweetness of the caked on sugar often hid the complex flavor of the nut. And sometimes the nut itself was under roasted and soft. He set out to right these wrongs, “honoring the perfection that the humble pecan already is.” In his opinion, nature and the pecan growers already do the bulk of the work, and he wanted to highlight that.

His minimalist approach to pecans follows this mindset. Once he receives the pecans from New Mexico, they undergo through a three step, three ingredient process: coat with sugar and canola oil, carefully toast to draw out the natural flavor, and season with salt. That’s all there is to it: simplicity and small-batch. He started to give the pecans as Christmas gifts, but one night he and three friends casually devoured 3 pounds of the nuts in one backyard sitting, convincing him to start his company. In the matter of only five years, he went from website to a brick and mortar in Madison, WI. Eric left his day job and brought on his sons, Kellen and Colson, along with a former colleague Jessica Benish to assist with operations.

The caramelized pecans arrive in an unforgettable jar, the label emblazoned with an old-school surfer dude hanging 10 on an oblong... pecan. We’d say this mistake has turned into a perfect 10.