Food Matters: Fischer & Wieser share a taste of Fredericksburg history, recipes in new book
Did you know that one of the country’s largest gourmet food companies started as a roadside fruit stand?
It’s a tale that Mark Wieser has told countless times. His parents planted a peach orchard near Fredericksburg just before the Great Depression, and by the time Mark had taken over the orchard, he knew that he wanted to sell more than peaches, so he opened a roadside stand to help with sales.
Like many growers in the area, Mark Wieser also hired local schoolkids to help pick the peaches, and one of the students, Case Fischer, had the vision to help grow the business to the corporation it is now, says John DeMers, who teamed with Fischer and Wieser to write “Fischer & Wieser’s Fredericksburg Flavors: Recipes from the heart of the Texas Hill Country,” (Bright Sky Press, $24.95) a new cookbook that also helps tell the story behind the company’s long history.
“Their entire enterprise grew from a roadside food stand,” he says, and the company’s success is tied to the “magical combination” of Wieser’s experience in farming and food and Fischer’s vision for a gourmet foods company that was almost unheard of at the time.
Homemade jams and jellies are all the rage now, but to understand just how far ahead of the curve they’ve been on so many levels, DeMers points to the company’s URL: jelly.com. “Can you imagine having to call at 7 a.m. on the first day of the Internet to get that?” says DeMers, the author of almost 40 books and host of the weekly food radio show Delicious Mischief, which airs in Austin at 10 a.m. Saturdays on Talk 1370AM.
DeMers says that when looking at the impact of the company, you can’t discount the company’s award-winning raspberry chipotle sauce, which remains one of its bestsellers. “They are considered the fathers of chipotle. That sauce really put them on the map,” he says.
Most of the recipes in the cookbook call for Fischer & Wieser products, but a number of the dishes come from fellow food businesses in the Hill Country, including chef Rebecca Rather, who recently opened the Pink Pig, Becker Vineyards and the Fredericksburg Brewing Co.
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