Jun 3, 2019
You could say Kyler Zeleny is a bit of a documentarian and historian. He’s a photographer, and a teacher, and a PhD candidate, but he’s also part of the fourth generation of a historic family business in Alberta, and he’s proud to be keeper of its past and its story.
Stawnichy’s Mundare Sausage celebrates 60 years in business in 2019. The specialty meat and Ukrainian food company was started by Anna and Woytko Stawniczy, who initially purchased a small store in the Alberta town of Mundare.
“It was just like a general store in town, and then they started making smoked garlic sausage once a week,” shares Zeleny. “They’d go out and chop wood and use that to smoke the meat themselves. It became so popular, people would line up along the block waiting for this stuff. And from there it just continued to grow.”
The small general store with the hugely popular house-made meats eventually began to grow. The small town business began expanding its offerings, adding pepperoni, bacon, and lunch meats like Pimento Loaf, Macaroni & Cheese and Garlic Bologna. In a mostly rural area with a large Ukrainian population, Ukrainian favourites like handmade perogies and cabbage rolls soon followed.
“We’ve automated a lot of things since those days,” laughs Zeleny, “but we still have about twenty ladies back there, hand-making some of these Ukrainian delights because no one else is really doing it anymore.”
Stawnichy’s has spent 60 years growing mainly through word of mouth. Stawnichy’s uses local ingredients whenever possible, including premium Alberta meats in its products
“We believe in purchasing Canadian products and in supporting our economy. All of our pork and others meats come from western Canada.”
Stawnichy’s uses a lot of traditional recipes. Zeleny says the secret to their sausage has gone unchanged for 60 years.
“While some people might see that as us not exactly being with the times, we also just believe in doing it the way that we've always done it, and that there's quality in that.”
Despite it’s reputation as an historic and long-standing company with those tried and tested recipes and staple products, Zeleny says Stawnichy’s is committed to innovating too, and one day soon, he hopes more of these products might be available at Co-op.
“We have a gluten friendly sausage now and that's great. And are looking into producing a couple meatless barbecue options for people, because we’re hearing there’s a lot of consumer interest in that. This would be a great local option.”
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