Each month we play 10 questions with one of Sweet Market Esso’s amazing suppliers. This month we hear from entrepreneurs Luc and Kathryn Forest, the owner-operators of Cornucopia Gourmet Popcorn. They recently moved to Castor, Albera, so show them some of that local love. Connect with Luc and Kathryn on Facebook, Instagram, or by visiting their website. And remember, you can find Cornucopia Gourmet Popcorn at Sweet Market Esso!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Who makes up the Cornucopia team?
I’m married with three kids. My wife Kathryn is my partner and we are the main two that operate Cornucopia.We have two of our children helping us and my sister in law. We are from Ontario and just relocated our business to Castor Alberta in August of 2020 so it’s been a year lol.
2. How did Cornucopia Gourmet Popcorn come to be?
This was a process but absolutely worth it. We opened our business in January 2019. Before I get into that we started researching the Gourmet Popcorn business two years prior to that.We had some bumps in the road and a few setbacks but continued with looking further into it.I’m a foodie and have been for such a long time my dream was always to own my own restaurant. Starting capital wasn’t in our grasp. I have lots of passion for food and love to create great tasting food. I took my love for food and dove into the world of Gourmet Popcorn and learned as much as I could. I got into contact with multiple people who own Popcorn businesses. I left my career path as a retail manager my wife and I worked for several large brand companies and we both have over twenty years customers experience each. I went back to school and completed culinary training and my wife took business at a local college.
So January 2019 we started Cornucopia. It started as a home based business. We built a Facebook page and started to slowly advertise and we first started as a Popcorn delivery service and it caught on fast, real fast. Next thing you know we were invited to local events and secured a spot at a local farmers market .We had some amazing success straight from the time we opened. We continued to build clientele and finished our first year amazingly.
The second year (2020) things got a bit scary and we made the decision to relocate to Alberta and so far we have been welcomed with open arms. We are now in 20 stores across Central Alberta.
3. Who has been the biggest influence on your company and why?
The biggest influence this is a combination on myself and my family. For me it absolutely has been a dream of mine to have something to call my own. I worked as a Manager for companies like Loblaws, Cineplex, PetSmart and Wal-Mart and I knew I was always meant for more. My family was there to support my dream. I know once taking culinary and meeting those professors that sealed the deal. Kathryn and I always knew we had more to bring to the table.
4. What’s a typical day like at Cornucopia?
It’s busy! We have days that come in waves: some days are organized chaos .We make everything in small batches and our Caramel is made by scratch. We pop a lot of popcorn. Some days we can go through 70 lbs of kernels, and that’s in a slow month of the year. We go through 25 to 30 lbs of butter and 15 lbs of peanut butter a week. We do the production, we deliver to our wholesale partnering stores, and maintain our Facebook page and our online store.
5. What’s the best part about owning your own business?
The feeling of accomplishment! We also have some dead time and we can take the day off when you need to recharge the battery lol.There is more freedom than working for someone else. We are extremely humbled at how successful things have been going and never want to work for someone else again.Owning your own business has its scary moments but at the end it’s worth it.We are gaining so much experience.
6. Cornucopia comes in a variety of delicious flavours. How are they created?
All of the savory flavors come from another Canadian company they have been in business for a long time.We tried so many companies seasoning it was almost a loss for us until we found the perfect combination of flavors.
Caramel, Muddy Buddy and all of the Premium flavors are flavors we came up with and tested them out till we got it right. We have some many recipes we’re good for the next twenty years. This year we are introducing a flavor of the month every month. February is Root Beer Float.
7. Which three words best describe your company?
Fun, exciting, delicious
8. What do you like most about living and working in small town Alberta?
It has its benefits; it’s so quiet here. People are so nice very supportive. The cost of living and business operating cost are so reasonable.
9. What’s one thing about Cornucopia that might surprise others?
That we primarily do everything by hand: we make the popcorn, season it,bag it by scoops, and put all the labels on ourselves. The only machine we have is the machine that pops the popcorn. It’s a process to put an order together.
10. Where does Cornucopia go from here? Do you have any big goals?
We do have big plans to expand while in Alberta. That’s one of the reasons we came out to Alberta. We had lived in Central Alberta in the early 2000, and we like how all these small towns that web across the province and would like to eventually be in most of them. We are also looking at opening a second location in the future.I really wish we could find a local grower of popcorn as that would be amazing. We have lots of plans to become one of the most favorite snacks in Alberta. We also have some attention from a larger company to offer our popcorn on a national level.
We also want to increase our visibility in our fundraising program as our program gives back 40% of the sales back to the organization.We also want to run our own fundraising campaign to help local organizations in Alberta, but are still working on how that will work.
*this interview has been edited for clarity