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Milwaukee's Howling Wolf BBQ Sauce Adds Zest to Meat and Veggies

Jun. 27, 2017
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The term “barbecue” or “BBQ” means different things to different people, but one thing almost everyone can agree on is there are few things finer on a summer day than the aroma of meat or veggies sizzling on a grill, coated with a spicy or tangy BBQ sauce. Ken Wolfe of Howling Wolf Gourmet Foods, INC. is a chef who brought his own unique take to BBQ through Howling Wolf BBQ sauces and rubs.

Wolfe, a West Coast native, has been a chef for almost 40 years. He’s been hooked on cooking since his mother showed him how to make an egg. His grandfather lived in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay, and Wolfe spent many summer seasons with him fishing and cooking.

Wolfe trained and worked at fine dining restaurants in Los Angeles. He traveled to France and served as a chef on the opening crew of Euro Disney. He was also a chef in France’s Loire Valley region; a hilly, farm area that Wolfe said is similar in topography and climate to his current home in Theresa, Wis.

“One of the benefits of being a chef is that you have a portable profession, so you want to take advantage of it,” he said. Wanderlust later took Wolfe to Wyoming, where after working as a chef on a snowmobile ranch, he opened his own restaurant, Café Wyoming. Business boomed during the summer tourist season, and it was there where Wolfe played around with BBQ sauces and perfected his recipes.

About 10 years ago, Wolfe moved to Wisconsin, his wife Jennifer’s home state. To the benefit of us ‘Sconnies, Wolfe continued his sauce business here. His line has three BBQ sauces: Original and Extra Spicy, both molasses-based, and the fruit-based Cranberry Orange. Three spice rubs include Original Dry Rub, a BBQ flavor; Land & Sea Dry Rub, similar to an all-purpose seasoning; and Mediterranean Dry Rub.

All of the Howling Wolf products do not contain MSG or high fructose corn syrup, and are free from gluten. The sauces and rubs are also vegan-friendly; something that’s not often associated with BBQ.  “All of my stuff is vegan-friendly—even the Worcestershire

Sauce I use in my products is anchovy-free— and lots of vegetarians do like it,” Wolfe said. “I try to get vegetarians used to the idea that BBQ can be vegetarian, and my sauce is good on vegetables or as a dip.”

The rubs are versatile, year-round products that can be used just like salt and pepper, but with a different flavor profile. All are sugar-free. The Mediterranean Dry Rub gives grilled vegetables an exotic kick, and it’s also good in couscous salad or as coleslaw seasoning. Wolfe recommends Land & Sea Dry Rub on popcorn, veggies or burgers. 

New for summer is a limited edition Honey Huckleberry BBQ sauce that Wolfe used to make in Wyoming but has not yet produced in Wisconsin. The product will launch at this year’s Wisconsin State Fair. The Honey Huckleberry pairs well with the dry rubs, and Wolfe said it’s especially good on duck. “It’s a really unique sauce. You can even make ice cream with it,” he said.

Wolfe is getting the bug to open another restaurant or maybe a food cart to get his products into the community and how he prepares BBQ. But for now, people can find Howling Wolf products at Outpost, Sendik’s, Whole Foods, Metcalf’s Sentry in Wauwatosa and a handful of Piggy Wiggly stores.

For more information and recipes, visit bbqhq.blogspot.com.


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