December 2014

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    Nancy and Cliff Hucks operate Kathryn's Cottage Kitchen out of their Davidson home.
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    While the dressings and spreads are now made off-site to help with the increase in demand, the pair, along with their daughter, still label all the packaging and jars themselves.
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Dressed to Impress

By Jenny Brule | Photography by Lunahzon Photography

Posted: Tuesday, Sep. 09, 2014

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Husband and wife Cliff and Nancy Hucks started their company, Kathryn’s Cottage Kitchen, because they missed the salad dressings, dips, and spreads that Nancy grew up eating at her parents’ Mooresville restaurants. Kathryn’s Cottage Kitchen, based in their Davidson home, is reintroducing those restaurant-quality products to the home cook.

From 1968-1984 Nancy’s parents, Claude and Dora Blaine Little, owned Little Kitchen on Main Street in Mooresville (next to what is now La Patisserie), as well as Chicken Little, Little Spaghetti, Delk’s (dime store with a lunch counter), and Little’s at the Beach (in Myrtle Beach). “The success of those restaurants was because of two things: We used the best quality ingredients, and had the best people working there,” Nancy says.

It was after the Littles retired and sold their restaurants in 1984 that the Hucks decided to bring back a few of the most popular family recipes. “Mother’s chicken salad had been made and served in Little Spaghetti and the Delk’s lunch counter for 50 years—people loved it!” Nancy says.

Before starting Kathryn’s Cottage Kitchen, Cliff would simply make the recipes he and Nancy missed, for themselves and friends. “Each dressing recipe makes five gallons, so I’d make some for us and give the rest away in jars to friends.” Soon, those lucky friends began asking for the dressings and spreads on a regular basis.

Nancy, 67, is a realtor with Lake Norman Realty and Cliff, 56, is retired. They have no employees for Kathryn’s Cottage Kitchen, though their daughter helps out.

Offering seven products, the Hucks had to choose the most popular of Mrs. Little’s original recipes. “The bleu cheese dressing has always been very popular, both in the restaurants, and with our friends,” Cliff says. Nancy confirms the dressing’s popularity: “Once, Daddy caught a lady with a Mason jar in her pocketbook, filling it up with the bleu cheese dressing in the Little Kitchen salad bar. He had to ask her to please leave.”

Kathryn’s Cottage Kitchen offers bleu cheese, ranch, balsamic, and thousand island dressings, wine and cheese spread, olive and cream cheese spread, and chicken salad. The couple uses a co-packer in South Carolina to make and package the dressings and cheddar wine spread, and the cream cheese and olive spread and the chicken salad are made locally in McLaughlin’s Farmhouse in Mooresville. While they’ve been successful selling Kathryn’s Cottage Kitchen foods regionally, like Reid’s Fine Foods, McLaughlin’s Farmhouse, Dean and Deluca (among many others), they gained a considerable boost when Harris Teeter began carrying their bleu cheese and ranch dressings this past April. They are now available in every Harris Teeter store from southern Georgia to Baltimore. The Hucks believe that this Harris Teeter connection is a natural one, “Willis Teeter [co-founder of Harris Teeter] was from Mooresville and often ate at Little Kitchen,” says Cliff. “He loved the bleu cheese dressing!”

With plans of introducing a honey mustard dressing this fall, Kathryn’s Cottage Kitchen is going from strength to strength, showing the Southeast that a Little recipe and a lot of hard work reaps success.

kathrynscottagekitchen.com.

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