We all love to flavor our food, but most seasonings contain high amounts of salt and sodium, which can cause high blood pressure and other health issues. What if it were possible to get that extra flavor without the additives and preservatives? Sherry Rollins, 46, has spent the last three years concocting unique natural flavors that enhance your meal without compromising your health at KQ Bistro. Sherry uses natural staples like kimchi and soybeans to build Korean-inspired, hand-crafted seasonings that enhance your meals with fresh, natural flavors.
Building a business from scratch as a mother of four is no easy feat, but Sherry and her husband Jeremy have big plans for the future of KQ Bistro.
Tell us about the genesis of KQ Bistro.
The idea actually started as part of my daughter’s after-school project. Her project was all about how to stop food waste, so we began dehydrating older onions and kimchi and turning them into herbs and salts. The results were better than we expected, and it just took off from there. We started to experiment with more flavors and did taste tests with friends to see if we were really onto something. We saw there was a real demand for these products. In 2018, we started traveling to the Delta Cuisine Commercial Kitchen and Business Incubator at Arkansas State University to prepare our products in a more elevated space. Now, we sell our seasonings online and are working on opening up a storefront.
KQ Bistro is built on nutritious staples like probiotic-rich kimchi. What inspires you to provide health-focused products?
The way that we eat really impacts health and illness prevention. My parents are the biggest inspiration when it comes to changing the way you eat and think about food. My mom was diagnosed with Lupus, and as a result completely changed her diet to almost entirely cut out animal products, which has really helped control her flare ups. My father was diagnosed with cancer and is working hard to change his diet to improve his overall health.
Family plays a big role in KQ Bistro as well. What’s the best part of running a family-owned business?
KQ Bistro wouldn’t be possible without the help of my family. My parents are always there in a pinch to help with food prep or to help with the kids. My favorite thing about working with my family is being able to spend time with them and chat, but also sitting in comfortable silence when things get busy.
Where do you get the inspiration for your unique seasonings?
My dad was in the army, so we traveled a lot growing up. My mother is from South Korea and I was actually born in Seoul, which is why our products are heavily influenced by Korean flavors.
What is the most popular product at KQ Bistro?
The soy salt. It’s natural and super low in sodium and made from protein-rich soybeans.
What’s your favorite product you’ve developed?
My personal favorite is the kimchi salt. It’s different than your typical salt because it’s dried-out kimchi mixed with herbs and is way better for you.
What in the future for KQ Bistro?
Our products are currently available for sale on our website, but we hope to have our storefront open in the next six months in Arlington. Our plan is to do hybrid food manufacturing out of the store so that we can get new products out to stores. It’s all about being more accessible. Selling online is lot of work, so we want to get on some shelves. We’re excited about the new products we have in the works too. Once the store is open, we’ll offer beef and vegan jerky, and the building space has a smoker so we’ll be able to perfect Korean ribs.
By Lucy Harrison
Photo by Tindall Stephens