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Our founder, Eric Rupert, began his culinary adventures in 1981 as a baker at The Ovens of Brittany, a Madison favorite specializing in extraordinary baked goods. Famous for their morning buns and croissants, The Ovens, as it was locally known, was way ahead of its time. As a baker there, he would carefully watch the pastry bakers, asking questions and staying after his baking shift to help while off the clock.
He took a break from pastry to travel, moving to Taiwan and then traveling to India, Nepal and Europe. Upon his return, he took up baking again. Within the seemingly rigid structure and recipes of baking, he found a freedom to innovate and create beautifully crafted pastries and wedding cakes. One fateful evening, he watched the movie Babette's Feast, and had an epiphany. He immediately switched to the savory side of the operation, quickly advancing through every station in the kitchen. Around the same time, as good fortune would have it, Madison’s legendary epicurean destination L’Etoile was looking for kitchen help. Eric made the move. L'Etoile already had garnered a national reputation under chef and owner Odessa Piper, as one of the early icons of the Farm to Table movement, along with Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. Six months into his time at L’Etoile, Eric was invited to be L'Etoile's co-chef along with Chef Piper. With Eric and Odessa at the helm, L'Etoile would win a James Beard Award in 2001. Eric went on to spend decades leading more amazing culinary operations, from L’Etoile to the state-of-the-art corporate kitchens at Sub-Zero/Wolf and Epic Systems.
A Happy Accident?
Fortune Favors began as a mistake. Or was it something more magical, more…fortuitous? Eric was hard at work in the kitchen, the stovetop crowded with pots and pans, when he accidentally dropped some pecan halves into the wrong pot. When he saw them again later, he stopped and looked more closely. They had a perfect, shiny glaze as though they had been intentionally and carefully conjured. He tasted one, and was surprised at how crunchy and delicious it was. Over the next hour, as if in a trance, he ate them all. He added salt to a second batch, and shared them with family and friends. They were instantly spellbound, and a ritual was born: Eric would prepare these enchanting treats as holiday gifts; the nuts tagged along in ziplock bags to campfires up north – they went with him everywhere, creating little moments of connection and enchantment in a small circle of Eric’s friends and family. He marveled at the magic every time someone took their first time-stopping bite, each time it was as if fortune favored their taste buds.
Fortune Favors the Bold
Today, Eric and a small team of food-lovers are doing the work to share this enchanted nut on a grander scale than ever before, while maintaining our identity as a premium product offered at only the finest retailers. We go about this task with a humble and grateful Midwestern sensibility, along with a healthy dose of nostalgia, whimsy and humor. While we appreciate and celebrate the power of food to connect people, we don’t take our products or ourselves too seriously. We are a premium brand, but we are still a small family business that is equal parts fun, magical and irreverent. We value consistent quality, community and compassion as much as the bottom line. And now, we are proud to share an enchanting new brand befitting the quality, the magic, and the true story of the enchanting nuts we share and love and love to share.
Introducing Fortune Favors. Nuts, Enchanted.