At Turasky Meats, a personal relationship with Excalibur goes a long way
There’s rich, historical significance in the Illinois capital of Springfield where many monuments, buildings, and entertainment venues are connected to Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s 16th president.
And tucked away on the city’s north side is another institution that can draw quite a crowd. Turasky Meats is well known in these parts for their marinated pork chops, famous Italian Beef and pork bbq. (If the former president were still among us, we imagine he would be a regular customer here.)
“Our pork chop is marinated in a special BBQ sauce and is one of our signature products,” says Kris Sterbinsky, general manager of Turasky Meats. “People come in and pick them up all the time and tell me they used to enjoy them at the state fairgrounds. It takes them back to their younger years.
“Now we market the chops for consumers to cook themselves. As far as the Italian Beef and Pork BBQ, these are heat and serve items to take out of the freezer, thaw and heat. It’s a delicious, quick meal.”
Turasky Meats is one offshoot brand of the parent company, YT Packing, which was founded in 1949 as a full slaughter plant, customizing and cutting meat or sides of beef for grocery stores around the area. When YT decided that retail provided a better way to market, Turasky Meats was launched. Smart Grillin’ is also among their offerings, in addition to a line of poultry products and clean label.
“We make more than 150 products – sixty of them involve using multi-ingredients,” says Kris. “Ninety-eight percent of the seasonings that we use in-house come from Excalibur Seasoning. I once ran a meat plant in Peoria, Illinois and used their products, so I’ve been familiar with them for years. It’s a quality product and the company stands behind everything they do.”
The company’s relationship with Excalibur began in the 1980s. All of Turasky Meats ham cures are Excalibur products and have helped the meat processor and retailer win numerous awards including Grand Champion State Fair ham. Their jerky, summer sausage, regular and flavored snack sticks have all earned Grand Champion honors at the IFFA Cured Meats Competition.
Turasky Meats also co-packs products for other brands, but a few years ago they started running out of space. In August of 2020, construction on a second production facility was completed.
“The new plant allowed us to expand our capacity and take some pressure off the initial facility,” says Kris. “Many co-packing brands were coming to us with flavor ideas. One customer from Washington state wanted a buffalo-style hot snack stick, so we consulted with Excalibur and they helped us develop the seasoning blend.
“One time I ran out of product and I was in a bind. I got in touch with Scott Werner at Excalibur and he helped me get the product in quickly.”
And among their best-selling items? An old English flavor blend developed by Excalibur that Turasky Meats uses to season prime rib.
“It’s been 15 years now and consumers keep coming back for the prime rib because of the marinade,” Kris says. “We operate a small retail shop at our plant, but two days before Christmas our output is huge. Seven hundred to 1,000 of these prime ribs will go out the door before the holiday.”
For Turasky Meats, a personal relationship with Excalibur Seasoning goes a long way.
“Many other seasoning companies have been trying to get our business for years,” says Kris. “We have a partnership with our sales representative who is always willing to help us out with whatever he can. Excalibur is always only a phone call away.”
- Part II: Getting to know Mike Shrier, president & CEO of Excalibur Seasoning
- At Turasky Meats, a personal relationship with Excalibur goes a long way
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- New “Heritage” blends are a melting pot of flavors
- Excalibur shifts to adjusted summer operating hours