Alaka’i (Ah-la-KAA-ee): To Lead
Alaka'i is a story we've been telling since day one. So we thought for the final installment of this blog series it would be great to highlight the founders' memories of the family recipe which sparked the flavor, which in turn inspired Windward's identity as a company and brand.
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Anthony C. - Man, where do I begin? As long as i can remember, my grandfather would always make his famous teriyaki steak for us to eat. It could be any day of the week, any holiday of the year, and any family gathering. Some of my fondest memories of my grandparents were standing in the kitchen getting plates ready, or standing outside next to the grill watching my grandfather cook up the meat. For myself and Steven, we were taught that food is what brings people together, and keeps people happy. With that, we always took the kitchen seriously; it was our playground as kids.
When Steven and I were young, we knew food was something we wanted to be part of in the future as adults. We would always talk about owning a restaurant together and becoming extremely successful. It wasn’t too many years afterwards that Steven had the brilliant idea of turning our grandfathers teriyaki family recipe into beef jerky. Next thing you know, BOOM, we have our very first flavor... Alaka’i. It was our way of paying homage to our grandparents and telling everyone our story of family, food, and culture. Alaka’i is stamped with our youth, every time I take a bite it takes me back to my best household memories.
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Steven - Windward wouldn’t be a company without Alaka’i. When we first started researching the industry, everything was predicated on the fact that we already had a family teriyaki recipe in our back pocket that didn’t need any tweaking or updating. So going from idea to first test-run only took two days to convince Anthony to get on board. From there we made batch after batch to sell to family and friends. It's crazy how many people asked for it. This eventually turned into friends-of-friends wanting jerky and we knew we were on to something special.
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Anthony G. - I tried Alaka'i for the first time about 2 days after Steven first floated around the idea of getting into the beef jerky business. Starting a beef jerky company was not something we were too excited about yet; it was merely an idea without any legs. All of this changed when Steven made the first homemade batch of Alaka'i. He pretty much nailed it on his first try and made some of the best beef jerky I had ever tried in my life. I knew right away that we had something special.
I always struggle to pick my favorite Windward Jerky flavor because I genuinely love them all. However, Alakai is by far my favorite flavor from a creative standpoint. We have always been big craft beer enthusiasts. We wanted to establish our brand by creating flavors with great artwork, creative names, and interesting backstories. These are concepts we borrowed from our favorite craft beers and it all started with Alakai, a story about real people and real traditions. It is a type of story I hope we can continue to tell in future releases.