A salami chip is best described as a crispy potato chip that tastes like salami, Josi Ryke explains.
They wanted a name that was simple and to the point.
Coming up with a name that represented their brand was the trickiest part of launching a new business, says The Salami Chip Co. co-founder Josi Ryke, 55.
The Oak Park-based food company produces exactly that — salami chips — and their goal was for people to know exactly what they were all about without having to do extra research.
A salami chip is best described as a crispy potato chip that tastes like salami, Ryke explains. They’re salty, savory and pair well with jams and charcuterie boards. It was an idea that had been in the works for years, she says, and when it was finally brought to life, simply calling the brand “The Salami Chip Co.” was the perfect way to sum it up.
Soft-launched in November, The Salami Chip Co. is currently pending USDA certification to be sold in grocery stores. They’re almost there, Ryke says, but for now, the company run by Ryke, Brad Dockery and husband-and-wife duo, Erik and Julie Herman, sells bagged salami chips through their e-commerce website.
Their advertising has been done through social media, so word-of-mouth has been key to spreading awareness. It wasn’t hard to generate excitement, though, since the Hermans have worked in catering for 26 years and are well-known throughout the local culinary community. Ryke operated a successful event business that also connected her to the Metro Detroit food industry and with her now-business partners.
The Hermans were testing versions of a salami chip for nearly a decade through their catering business, Julie Herman, 54, explains, gathering feedback and ideas for how to perfect the product. It was inspired by Spanish cookbooks where salami was often featured, but in the early years of their business, she said many people would steer clear of meat and fat. It wasn’t until the past decade that an interest in keto and low-carb diets resulted in more requests for salami chips at events, a demand Herman followed.
“We got a lot of encouragement and positive feedback,” Herman says. Yet it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic hit back in March that Herman and her business partners had enough free time to focus on turning their idea into reality. “Nobody needs to cater during a pandemic,” she continues. “If this was not a pandemic, we would be so busy that we wouldn’t have had time.”
It was a silver lining of the pandemic, Herman and Ryke explain, that they were able to take the year to develop The Salami Chip Co. and combine their expertise. For now, as they await USDA certification, they shop for ingredients themselves and bag the chips at their Oak Park kitchen inside Temple Emanu-El.
It’s one of many ties the business partners have to the local Jewish community, with Ryke’s husband, Brian Fishman, serving as the executive director at Temple Shir Shalom and Julie Herman having attended Hillel Day School.
They pride themselves on offering salami chips that are nitrate-free with no added preservatives. Of the people who have tried the chips, Herman says, 98% were happy with the product. While they currently only offer an original line, the goal is to develop different flavors and meats once they’re certified and able to distribute their product.
“There’s a spicy person. There’s a group of people that would like salami chips with turkey. There’s all different ways to make them,” Herman says.
They also want to create a vegetarian salami chip in the future so that all flavor profiles and dietary needs could be met. Another idea they’re interested in pursuing is creating a salad topper version.
Right now, “we just want to perform our best and put our best effort” forward, Ryke says. The thinly sliced salami, which is cooked in heated oil and then packaged to preserve taste and texture, retails for $8 per bag on The Salami Chip Co. website. They can also be purchased in packs of three or as a bundle that comes with Michigan-made spreads.
Yet the most important element of the business, Ryke says, is that their mission statement is loud and clear. “We had a million different names in our head,” she explains of The Salami Chip Co. “No matter what happens, we will always be known as the original.”