Made There: Spiva Cooking inspires home cooks with spice blends

Spiva Cooking in Bremerton was born out of a love of cooking and a need to socialize. Sam Spiva found himself in high school in a culinary arts class after taking the other electives. To his surprise, he developed a passion for cooking and pursued a career in the kitchen. He met his wife Heather at the Culinary Institute of Art and together they traveled and cooked around the world. Eventually, Sam found himself in cruise ship kitchens, cooking and training other chefs at sea. As the pandemic shut down both cruise lines and restaurants around the world, Sam needed a new outlet.

“I made this barbecue dry rub. I had a little more of it and I posted it on social media,” he explains. “And suddenly orders started pouring in. I had orders worth £50 to fulfill.”

Made there celebrates small business owners who produce local craft, food and beverage products in the Pacific Northwest.

Sam’s small-batch spice business started small, but soon he was creating new blends, designing packaging and establishing markets. Today, he and Heather have a retail location with a grinding and packing room where they can make fresh blends. Their bespoke creations have a huge following in their hometown of Bremerton and online, but they’ve also been fortunate to find a home in restaurant kitchens across the West.

“I still wanted a connection to my love of caring for people, my love of hospitality, my love of inventing food and being creative, and it had to look different,” he says. “Creating spices that people could use in their home kitchens to prepare that meal for their family was kind of a roundabout way of going back to my original love of nurturing people through food.”

The addition of training courses also strengthened Sam’s connection with the people he serves. Online demonstrations allowed him to continue teaching and inspiring home cooks during lockdown. Today, Sam is adding small group classes to the Spiva Cooking showroom. One tip he’s happy to share is how to cook the perfect steak — or whatever protein you enjoy.

Four tips for a perfect steak

Tip 1: Temper your steak

Let your steak sit for about 1-2 hours before grilling to come to room temperature. This will cook the steaks more evenly.

Tip 2: Preseason

Apply seasoning generously to both sides of the steak. This can be done while the steak is tempering to tenderize and flavor the steak.

Tip 3: Heat the pan

Get your pan nice and hot before you start cooking. Sam likes a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Allow the pan to build an even heat, then add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan (try avocado oil for its high smoke point) before cooking the steak.

Tip 4: let it rest

It will be really tempting to start digging right away, but you’ll be so glad you waited! Letting your steak rest allows it to finish cooking while the juices redistribute. Let your steaks rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.


*When you add the steaks to the hot pan, sear them for about three minutes on each side to get a nice brown. Use your senses when cooking. The seasoning helps create a nice crust on the steak, but you don’t want the seasoning to burn, so trust your nose and adjust the heat if necessary.

* Sam enjoys mashed garlic and butter in the pan while he cooks the steaks. You can gently butter the steaks with a spoon while they cook.

* Add some veggies! Sam pre-cooks whole potatoes, then chills them before quartering them. Then he adds these potatoes to the hot pan to crisp them up. Chopped kale or Swiss chard is another great addition.

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