For this installment of chefs to shelves, we’ll be taking a look at an 80-calorie-per-bag snack that packs all the flavor of your favorite munchies while using healthy, wholesome ingredients you can find at your local grocery store. For those of you that haven’t tried them yet, be warned: this SNACK is CRACK.
If you're a DMV native, or one of the many transplanted ‘locals’ that have made it past a few years here, you’ve probably gotten over the banging-your-head-against-the-steering-wheel part of your love/hate relationship with the DC commute. Once you’ve accepted your two-hour morning traffic jam, chances are you’ve settled in and found the perfect way to pass the time. For most of DC’s commuter contingent, morning radio is the perfect way to start the day and HERE, my friends, would be your first connection to Snacklins—and its co-founder and Chief Snack Bagger, Samy K.
Many-a-listeners will recognize Samy K from his days as a co-host on the Kane Show from 2006-2011, or maybe from his other media spots in radio, TV, and podcasts, but what you probably DON’T know, is that Samy K has serious chops in the kitchen.
Samy is like the Ben Franklin of food. When he wasn’t on-air, Samy was tinkering with crazy food ideas and hasn’t stopped since. Whether it is working on wacky concoctions like a “turducken breast” (a sous vide duck-chicken-turkey breast which has become a favorite of friends), at restaurants around DC honing his craft, or just helping out friends by holding it down as a line cook at their bars, Samy K throws down. While many people like to experiment in the kitchen, the Snacklin co-founder takes it to the next level by keeping a master list of recipes and crazy food ideas he has dreamed up.
Enter the vegan ‘pork’ rind AKA the pork-free crackling AKA the Snacklin.
One day, the stars aligned and a conversation started across the bar between Samy and Chef Logan McGear about vegan pork rinds. McGear, owner of multiple restaurants like Smoke and Barrel and Rosario, has a knack for inventive vegan dishes. Smoke and Barrel has become a staple spot for plant-based eaters, with local favorites like vegan wings and spare ribs. It turned out that Samy had previously experimented with what would later become Snacklins and had it on his master food list, though it wasn't a successful first attempt. With two culinary minds working together, Samy and Logan were able to perfect a recipe using mushrooms, yuca, onions, and chef wizardry that packed all the crunch, heft, and flavor of authentic ‘chicharrones.'
The first Snacklins hit the menu at Smoke and Barrel, and later got packaged and placed at local breweries like 3 Stars and DC Brau. In the early days, Samy and Logan never dreamed that they’d be rolling out their product in grocery stores across the region in just a couple short years. "The goal was always to make something our friends thought was rad,” Samy said, but the duo quickly realized that they had something that was much more than just a funky side project their friends liked to munch on at bars and breweries.
When Snacklins got approached by Union Kitchen, it seemed like a match made in heaven. The Union Kitchen Accelerator program helped the Snacklins team dream bigger. Instead of an ironic ‘pork-free crackling’ you can only find in specialty stores, they saw a snack as good (or better) than the potato chips we grew up on, but with a healthy twist: “people wants snacks and chips.” Samy K explains, “Instead of convincing people to eat celery or carrots, how about something healthy you can actually enjoy with a burger or a beer.”
With the help of Union Kitchen, Snacklins has been able to grow rapidly and scale up their production to meet national demand—just in time, since they will be rolling out to stores across the country soon. With new Snacklins flavors like Nacho and Jalapeño in the works, the potato chip industry is in for a rude awakening.
LOCAL’d PRO TIP // Be sure to check out the (Snacklins sponsored) Cannabis Cup this April at RFK to eat all the Snacklins and hang with Cypress Hill & Samy K!