Creation of Captain Mike’s Seasoning
by Mike Hymel
In the mid to late seventies a seasoning blend was developed in the kitchen that people were soon to call “Captain Mike’s Secret Seasoning”. The brainchild of Michael Hymel, a shrimp boat captain, this harmonic blend of all natural seasonings and spices was created so that all the spices commonly used in South Louisiana style Cajun / Creole cooking, could be available in one handy mixture. In addition to this, no blend on the market at the time was completely satisfactory. Also, better economy could be achieved because the spices could be purchased in larger quantities, then blended in the right proportions. This was a great convenience, eliminating the need for many bottles of expensive spices, and saving many steps back and forth in the kitchen. Among family and friends demand was heavy for Captain Mike’s.
Once ground bay leaf became available at the retail level, the blending process became easier and more Captain Mike’s could be made on a regular basis. Prior to this, bay leaves had to be ground by hand, a painstaking process to say the least. Even at this early stage of development, it was suggested the product be put on the market.
Constant experimentation and testing was done, and by the early eighties a formula was written down listing specific ingredients and using measured amounts. All this just for home use!
Now having a formula, and all the ingredients readily available, much larger quantities could be produced quickly and with a high degree of consistency. This resulted in even more people being introduced to Captain Mike’s Seasoning. Suggestions to market the blend were now coming from acquaintances and strangers alike. Compliments heard were “not overpowering, good blend, well balanced, high quality, low salt, very versatile” etc.
Beginning in the last days of 1991 and continuing through 1992 serious thought was given to put Captain Mike’s Seasoning on the market. In early 1993 the decision was made to do it. Large quantities of ingredients were purchased, and hundreds of jars were mixed by hand. They were affixed with prototype labels and test marketing was begun in earnest. During the test marketing it was learned that a certain percentage of customers needed a no-salt version, and some people wanted an extra spicy blend. After a week of exacting calculations and extensive checking, the formula was converted to weight measure. This enabled the product to be precisely blended in volume and packed by an approved facility. Thus, Barataria Spice Company was created.