Natchez native creates seasoning for meat and more
NATCHEZ — Ronny Novak had no idea people from across the country would one day be asking for the same seasoning he grew up cooking with in his mother’s kitchen.
“My mother gave me the recipe when I was about 16 years old, and I would just mix it myself and use it whenever I cooked for anyone,” Novak said. “I would even give the recipe to all my friends who would ask for it and not think anything of it.”
But after a few rave reviews from friends, coworkers or anyone who tried any food with Novak’s seasoning, the Natchez native decided to begin selling his seasoning, which eventually got the name, “Ronny’s Knock You Out the Door seasoning.”
The journey from spending $11 to make a jar of seasoning in his own kitchen to having his product on shelves at local grocery stores has been exciting for Novak.
“I never thought it would get this big,” Novak said. “It started off as something small, and it just started doing really well.”
Novak is also a manager at the Corr-Williams Company, which is a distribution company with a location in Natchez. Novak first got the idea to begin selling his seasoning in 2000 after talking to a client who brought in a bottle of seasoning to his office one day.
“He came by, left a can of seasoning and told me to call this company called Targil out of Opelousas, (La.), if I was interested in bottling my seasoning” Novak said. “Well, I called, talked to someone there, told them what all was in my seasoning and he told me what it would cost.
“It kind of all took off from there.”
Novak began distributing his seasoning under the name “Ronny’s Seasoning” to local convenience stores.
The seasoning contains a few basic ingredients such as salt, peppers, garlic and onion, but the real kick that sets his seasoning apart, Novak said, is chili powder.
“After trying all these different seasonings, I found that no one else really had chili powder,” Novak said. “It makes it good on everything.”
Two years after he began selling the seasoning, Novak said representatives from The Markets approached him seeking to sell the product in their chain of grocery stores.
“In order for them to put it on I their shelves, I had to have a barcode on the can, and before I had never had one,” Novak said. “Well, when I went to get a patent for the seasoning to get a barcode, they told me the name ‘Ronny’s Seasoning’ was already taken and did I have another name.”
Novak turned to his biggest fan and wife, Dottie, in hopes she might have a name suitable for the product.
The couple brainstormed and had a flashback to the first time his wife tried the seasoning when the couple feasted on a piece of deer hind quarter.
“She took a bite of it, took a step back and almost fell out the back door,” Novak said, laughing. “So she came up with the name, ‘Knock You Out the Door.’”
Since adding the colorful name to his product, Novak said business has been booming.
In addition to having his seasoning on the shelves of The Markets stores, Novak said he also has a loyal customer base across the country from Seattle to Connecticut.
“I ship the seasoning to about 30 different states right now, and I’m always getting calls from people wondering how they can get some,” Novak said. “I think people get a can and they share it with all their friends who then share it with their group of friends and it just kind of spreads from there.”
Novak even created a special mix with no monosodium glutamate, or MSG, after receiving the request from a restaurant owner who used the seasoning for his barbecue products.
But the seasoning isn’t good on only meat products as one loyal customer once told Novak.
“One day the UPS delivery guy walked into the building and started telling me how much he liked the seasoning,” Novak said. “He asked if I had ever tried it on a cantaloupe, and I just started laughing.
“I told him I hadn’t, but that I would have to try it.”
Novak said he’s enjoyed watching the seasoning company grow over the years and isn’t sure exactly what’s in store for the years ahead.
“I have a marinate I make that’s a mix between a soy sauce and a Worcestershire sauce, but I haven’t thought too much about selling that,” Novak said. “I’m satisfied with just this.
“When I retire, I’ll probably go on the road and sell my seasoning all over.”