A Sitdown with San Antonio’s Sausage King
In a plant the size of three football fields, Kiolbassa Smoked Meats is a model of efficiency, making 75,000 pounds of sausage a day.
As the workload gets heavier and the days get shorter as we approach Bowl Week, Valero Alamo Bowl staffers are looking forward to Q&As like the one below to lean on the expertise of their CEO Michael Kiolbassa, who is our 2018 Chairman. It’s time to get to know San Antonio’s Sausage King!
How do you describe your company?
Our family has been devoted to the time-honored tradition of hand-crafting sausage and bacon the slow, authentic way. We use only the finest cuts of meats and the freshest spices. Our mission today is to reintroduce people to authentic, smoked meats the way they were made 100 years ago.
Kielbasa is a staple of Polish cuisine and the spelling of your last name is almost identical. How far back have you traced your family roots?
Our family goes back to Poland. Several of my family members have been back there to talk to our relatives there. 1854 is when we came over to the United States and our first sausages were made here in San Antonio in 1949.
After introducing myself, a lot of people will tell me that they’ve been eating our sausage their entire life – which isn’t true because we had just started selling in their state!
With your company’s growth, it will be tougher to find people who have never been exposed to your sausage.
That is true. Our annual growth rate since 1990 has been 17% a year. That’s something that validates the quality of the product. And the thing I’m most proud of is that we have been able to maintain and even improve the quality during that same time.
What prompted you to reintroduce bacon to your product line?
In the early 60s, my Dad introduced a bacon made with a dry cured method since he didn’t have the space put in the injectors and all the other stuff bigger companies were using. That’s the bacon I grew up on for years and years. When we stopped slaughtering hogs, we stopped making bacon and I switched to store bought bacon which wasn’t comparable.
In thinking of products counter-seasonal to the sausage, I threw out the bacon idea and we agreed it fit into our mission. It’s been crazy how people have taken to it. Everyone produces bacon fast, generally in 24 hours. At Kiolbassa we make it slow and hand rub the salt and spices on the belly and let it cure naturally.
What are you most looking forward to as 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl Chairman?
I’m really honored to be the Chairman and being around all the excitement, coaches, players and fans will be great! It is always such an exciting week for our city and now more than ever I want to showcase all of the positive transformations that have occurred in San Antonio.
Hungry yet? You can buy Kiolbassa Smoked Meats gift packs online and you will be able to sample their products on game day in Tailgate Town in Lot B and the Kiolbassa Smoked Meats Pregame Party at Sunset Station.