Jacked-Up Foods tones down the heat

By Posted on Sep 17 2018 | By

Sauces, jams and rubs focus on flavor while supporting Autism research

The bottled magic all started in the kitchen by a ten-year-old. The young chef triggered what today is a successful spice and sauce gig that’s headed for a bigger and more flavorful future.

The young man behind the idea is Jack Zalewski, now a maturing fourteen-year-old whose parents Jon and Kat own and operate the Fredericksburg condiment business. Their product line is available at a number of establishments in the Piedmont region including Fauquier County. Their daughter Aubrie also plays a creative role in designing product labels.

And if creating a thriving small business with the core family wasn’t enough, Kat Zalewski’s two brothers Andy and Chris Morgan are also driving the business forward. Clearly this company is a family-first organization.

So what was Jack Zalewski’s creative flash point that started it all? “One morning we came down to the kitchen and Jack was standing on a chair making up his own spice rub. He wanted to learn how to cook,” said Kat Zalewski.

The lad’s interest in spices occurred the same summer the family had been growing hot peppers and making sauces and jams. Friends and family loved the taste and encouraged the couple to go commercial.

“We came up with the idea of starting a business where we would also donate part of our proceeds to various autism charities. Jack has Autism spectrum disorder and at some point we’ll have him working in the business. We also want to hire people with special needs in the future. Everyone deserves something they can do,” said Zalewski.

Contributions to autism organizations range from 1 percent to 5 percent of all sales.

Because of Jack’s autism he cannot have anything artificial in his diet. It was the goal of the family to create products that contained all-natural ingredients that were highly flavored.

If they do not use their own grown vegetables, they purchase them from Piedmont Farms in Fauquier County.

Kitchen magic
As the embryonic business began to gain traction, the jams, jellies and rubs caught spice aficionado’s attention. Meanwhile Zalewski’s brother Andy Morgan was making barbeque sauces for home use and also entering them in competitions. She and her brothers grew up in Warrenton.

“Andy made this incredible sauce. I tried to out-sauce him and could not do it. ‘I said, hey, we could work together,’” said Zalewski. Today, Andy and his brother Chris Morgan contribute five barbeque sauces to the company’s Jacked-Up Foods product line called Uncle Andy’s sauces.

Two of the sauces are sold on Amazon Prime—the Awesome and Blackberry Habanero—and sport five-star ratings from enthusiastic buyers.

All of the products are currently made in the home kitchen for now. From purchasing the ingredients, to preparation, bottling and labeling it is a five-day a week operation. A passion for the business is evidenced by the fact that Kat Zalewski works part-time as a registered nurse and prepares all the recipes.

Her husband Jon is the business development manager for a commercial landscaping firm in Lorton. Jon Zalewski holds a master of science degree in turfgrass management & agronomy.

The major outlet for their 30 some products is the Spotsylvania Farmer’s Market in Fredericksburg. Every Saturday—from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. April through December—the family sells up to 40 bottles of barbeque sauce and 25 bottles of hot sauce, jellies and a number of dry-rub spice packages.

A nice take for five hours of retail sales, reinforcing how popular the company’s products are.

Additionally, their products are retailed at several stores throughout the Piedmont region. The VanCanon General Store on Main Street in Warrenton, the Red Truck Rural Bakery in Marshall and the Apple House in Linden carry their sauces and jellies. The locally available products range in price from $5 to $8 a bottle; the two-pack Amazon sauces of 32.7 ounces go for $18.

The new barbeque establishment Divine Swine on Culpeper Street in Warrenton also has the sauces for customer use; a great way to test drive the slather fun.

What’s intriguing about the company’s success to date is its moderate but steady growth. Each year has seen an increase in business and reputation. Plans are now being laid to create a brick and mortar company some three years down the road.

“Our ultimate goal is to have our own production facility and maybe a retail shop with a café. We want to be able to provide employment opportunities for people with special needs and disabilities,” said Zalewski. “In the future both Jack and I would work there.

“The longer we do this as a family the more we love it. In the beginning we just had a good time but now we are taking it more seriously.”

For information on the company’s full product line and ordering by mail visit their tasty website at


Published in the September 12, 2018 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES