About three years ago, Patrick Bugliosi told his Facebook friends he was making another batch of pickled asparagus and asked if anyone wanted some.
The next thing he knew, he had more than 70 notifications.
Bugliosi had been making pickled asparagus and other pickled treats at home for about a decade. But after that post, Bugliosi decided to sell them commercially.
His pickled products can now be found in Happy Harry's stores and in the Bloody Marys and Caesars served at Rhombus Guys.
"People that know my family have had them before and love them," Bugliosi said. "But a lot of other people are like 'oh, what is that?'"
Bugliosi said both the regular pickled asparagus and his habanero pickled asparagus are great stir sticks, or can be a piquant pickled snack.
"It's very comparable to a pickle; it still has a bite but it very much has that asparagus taste," Bugliosi said. "And the hot version is a slow burn, not a punishing hot."
Bugliosi is hoping to sell other products, like pickled zucchini and "cowboy candy," which are pickled and sugared jalapeno rings.
Love of food
Bugliosi said he grew up in a family that loved food.
"Both of my parents are great cooks, really know their way around a kitchen," Bugliosi said. "I kind of felt like I had to cook to belong."
Bugliosi's parents, Jerry and Nancy, always had a shelf of pickled produce in the basement.
"They were just always around. I always saw that growing up. My grandparents had that, too," Bugliosi said.
Bugliosi said it was instilled in him to not waste anything.
When he and his wife, Alyssa, bought zucchinis that were mis-labeled as cucumbers, the couple decided to make a potpourri of zucchini dishes.
"We made pickled zucchini," Bugliosi said. "We also made bread, lasagna, brownies, you name it."
Bugliosi, an academic advisor at UND's College of Education, also cooked at the Country Club for 10 years.
"It was great. I got free golf, free food and I got to feed my passion for food," Bugliosi said.
When his first daughter, Maddy, now 6, was born, he had to cut back at this secondary job.
One perk was that he was able to pickle more.
Bugliosi and his wife now have two daughters, Maddy and Stella, who is 2.
To be able to sell commercially, Bugliosi had to go through a monthslong process.
He had to become a licensed food producer. The state came to watch him make his pickled asparagus. NDSU blended his product to a pulp and tested the pH levels of the asparagus.
Bugliosi also worked with UND's Center for Innovation to learn the first steps he should take in starting his business.
Bugliosi has to use a commercial kitchen to make his product.
"I'll make about 100 to 120 pounds and that will take me four hours," Bugliosi said. "It's a process."
That will produce about 90 jars, he said.
Bugliosi was renting kitchen time from the now-closed Giuseppe's Italian Ristorante. Bugliosi is currently working with a few locations in town to get commercial space.
Some problems in the pickling pursuit lie with the product itself, Bugliosi said.
"The one thing is breaking down those barriers, getting people to try the pickled asparagus," Bugliosi said.