Garden Complements Blog

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We’re Hiring!

Garden Complements is Kansas City’s contract packing and private label food processing expert. We have an opportunity for an energetic, experienced Production Manager to lead our food processing operations in North Kansas City.


We’re looking for a Production Manager to oversee our food processing operations. As the hands-on leader of the production team, the Production Manager is responsible for mentoring and coaching associates; ensuring food safety and quality; and maintaining Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and process controls.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Supervise and mentor hourly production associates
  • Create and oversee employee training that emphasizes productivity, resource conservation, safe work practices and following GMPs
  • Evaluate each stage of the manufacturing process to ensure maximum efficiency
  • Enforce safety policies and procedures (both in-house and regulatory) to decrease the potential for employee injuries on the job
  • Assume responsibility for manufacturing and shipping processes in the plant
  • Inspect products prior to shipment to ensure accurate labeling and record keeping
  • Maintain open lines of communication between employees, management and executives
  • Work within budgets
  • Ensure all resources and assets are used efficiently and correctly


  • 3 – 5+ years of hands-on, management experience within a food production environment
  • Good working knowledge of production and packaging equipment such as mixers, kettles, fillers, bottlers, etc.
  • Working knowledge of process controls, compliance requirements (e.g., FDA, OSHA) and industry standards (e.g., HACCP, SQF)
  • Knowledge of food sanitation processes, procedures, and standards
  • Proficient computer skills and experience working in a Microsoft Office environment
  • Willingness to jump in and help, as needed, including working on the production line
  • Willingness and capacity to work weekends and/or long hours, when needed
  • Heavy lifting (up to 50 lbs). and standing for long periods of time.

Benefits include a competitive salary, health benefits, a company-matched 401(k) savings plan, paid vacation and holidays. Interested parties should submit a current resume and salary requirements to via email. No phone calls, please.

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Was the First Thanksgiving Turkey Smoked? I think so!

Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, it got me thinking about how our traditions have evolved since the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621. Given the fact I make barbecue sauce for a living, I immediately wondered why most people roast their turkey in the oven.

Doesn’t it make more sense that the pilgrims and their new friends, the Wampanoag Indians, would have smoked a turkey???

In my search to learn more, I ran across a few facts on a website for teachers called Kids Konnect. Here are a few I think are worth sharing:

  • By the fall of 1621, only half of the pilgrims, who had sailed on the Mayflower, survived. The survivors, thankful to be alive, decided to prepare a thanksgiving feast.
  • The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in the year 1621, in Massachusetts.
  • The first Thanksgiving feast was held in the presence of around ninety Wampanoag Indians and the Wampanoag chief, Massasoit, was also invited.
  • The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days. The drink that the Puritans brought with them on the Mayflower was beer.
smoked Thanksgiving turkey
I think the first Thanksgiving turkey was smoked, not baked.

Once I read they had beer with their meal, I feel certain that the first turkey was smoked. I am also confident that it would have been even better slathered in barbecue sauce.

If you decide to break from tradition and smoke your Thanksgiving bird, here’s a recipe from Bobby Flay and The Food Network. Don’t forget the barbecue sauce!

Happy Thanksgiving from Garden Complements! So much to be grateful for including having my family home to gather around the table.

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Contract Packing or Private Label? What’s the Difference?

We get that question a lot. While they are seemingly very similar processes, here's a quick primer on the difference.

Contract Packing is the process that occurs when a customer owns an original recipe and wants it commercially produced. For example, a restaurant operator may bottle a special sauce or dressing for retail sale so customers can enjoy it at home.

contract pack
Contract Packing happens when the customer brings the recipe to us to produce. Private Labeling is when we help the customer develop the recipe and then bottle it.

Before the customer shares the proprietary recipe with us, a Non-Disclosure Agreement is signed. Then, we translate it into a precise formulation for production. Once the formula’s taste and consistency meet with the customer’s satisfaction, we process and pack it for end-use.

Private Labeling happens when a customer turns to us for help developing and bottling a product under the customer’s own brand name. In other words, the the customer is looking to us to help them develop a tasty product that can be labeled as as their very own brand.

We offer a full line of signature brands that can be private-labeled “as-is” or used as the base for a custom sauce, condiment or marinade including:


The same packaging options exist for both Contract Packing and Private Label. These include bottling for retail sales; and plastic jugs and drums for restaurants, foodservice, institutional use.

If you have your own recipe you’d like to package or if you’d like help developing a signature sauce, dressing or marinade, we can help. Give us a call or send us a note.