Many of our readers are familiar with a local favorite, Ila’s Foods. What they may not know, is that along with ordering their products online or purchasing them in stores, Debra Kilcup, the company founder, also attends a variety of events and festivals across Washington. Each year, she attends around 35 of these gatherings, vending a selection of her spreads, dips, and other sauces. She’s also developed several new products to try, introducing new flavors and continuing her line of fundraiser merchandise.
When meeting with her, one of the first events Debra brought up is also a favorite of hers, the Sequim Lavender Festival, which takes place on July 20-22. She sells at Lost Mountain Lavender Farm, a local farm that participates in the festivities. There, she offers a variety of her products that include the lavender grown by Lost Mountain, such as a mixed fruit and lavender spread with agave, and a Lavender Lemon Marmalade. “Vendors become somewhat like a family,” Debra shares. She expresses how grateful she is that vending at food festivals connects her to others in the food industry, and allows people to try foods that they might not ever be introduced to otherwise.
Another festival that Debra looks forward to vending at is the Washington State Garlic Festival in Chehalis. While she offers many sweet jams and spreads, the savory products from Ila’s Foods are just as delicious, and her Garlic Festival jelly, made especially for these kinds of events, is no exception. This year, Debra plans on branching out and attending the Northwest Garlic Festival for the first time, an event that she is excited to experience. The Washington State Garlic Festival takes place August 24-26, and the Northwest Garlic Festival is June 16-17.
While it has already passed this year, Debra couldn’t help but share about another of her favorite food festivals, Chocolate on the Beach. Occurring in Pacific Beach February 22-25, Chocolate on the Beach is a truly exceptional festival. “People come from all over for this one,” Debra shares. “They have some of the best chocolate you’ll ever eat in your life.” Each year, the festival selects a theme, and the proceeds raised are always donated to charity.
When Debra was first invited to Chocolate on the Beach, she didn’t offer products containing chocolate. Participating in the festival seemed irresistible, so she whipped up a Raspberry and White Chocolate Spread. She initially thought the spread would just be a seasonal product for the chocolate festival and the holidays, but it became popular enough that it’s now offered year-round.
Since then, Debra has expanded her selection of chocolate products that she takes to Chocolate on the Beach, including Burgess Butter, a chocolate and peanut butter spread named after Debra’s beloved brother, Rick Burgess. When Rick was diagnosed with ALS, Debra created the product in his honor, pairing two of Rick’s favorite flavors and donating the proceeds to ALS research foundations.
In my meeting with her, Debra shares with me about the new products recently released by Ila’s Foods. She offers a wide variety of products, with something perfect for every palate. Debra prides herself on creating flavor combinations not often seen elsewhere, something that can be immediately noticed from browsing through the company’s selection. That’s why when she first started receiving suggestions to make a strawberry rhubarb jam, she was initially hesitant. “It’s less original than what I usually like to do,” she explains. However, after seeing a demand for it in the community, Ila’s Foods now offers a Strawberry Rhubarb Jam that has been a resounding success among her customers.
Other new products include Dragon Breath, a jelly made with Carolina Reaper Peppers, the world’s hottest pepper, and a Dill Sauce, originally made for one of Debra’s restaurant customers, that was popular enough that she decided to package and sell it as well.
Another must-try of Ila’s Foods is their new Pomegranate Raspberry Spread, that is offered as either a jelly or a jam. For those wondering, a jam is a spread that contains pieces of fruit and seeds, and jelly is a spread that does not contain any solids. Marmalade, another popular offering of Ila’s Foods, contains citrus with the pith and peel included.
Whether you visit her stand at an upcoming food festival or purchase products online or in-store, Debra is always coming up with exciting new creations for the community to try. Check out her selection, updates, and online store at the Ila’s Foods website and be sure to like them on Facebook to stay updated on what’s new for this local favorite.