Teton County Search and Rescue is stoked to have Kate’s Real Food as a sponsor of our team. Our volunteers love Kate’s bars and we go through an incredible amount of them (36 hungry volunteers can eat a LOT!). We always keep Kate's bars stocked at the hangar so our team can grab them as they head out the door on a rescue or training mission. If they aren't already a staple in your backcountry pack, grab a few and try them out.
We sat down with Kate Schade, founder of Kate’s Real Food, to find out how she got into the bar business, what she always keeps in her pack for backcountry adventures and what’s on the horizon for Kate’s Real Food.
What brought you to the Tetons and when did you get here?
My first summer was after my junior year in college in 1992. I loved the Tetons so much I returned after I graduated in 1993 and have been here pretty much full time since then.
What passions keep you here and happy?
The mountains, the outdoors, and the never-ending opportunity for play has kept me here and happy, not to mention all the other like-minded people. While the hiking and skiing brought me here originally, I love having new experiences. As mountain people, I think we all relate similarly and want to try our hand at a new mountain experience. Maybe it’s kayaking, climbing, mountain biking, road biking, dirt biking, snowmobiling, surfing, hunting… There’s so much to choose from and it’s so easy to access. We have it good. If you can try a new sport it keeps both the physical and mental body more alive, in tune, and open to new experiences. But, it’s hard to give time to them all! Over the years, I’ve skipped around on my summer sports - kayaking, climbing, mountain biking, dirt-biking. When one really sticks, there lies more passion. Right now, that’s riding a dirt bike. Life is short, so it’s good to experience as much as you can.
How did you become such an expert energy bar maker?
Well, thanks for calling me an expert! I think when a person spends a lot of time in one area of passion, it’s only natural that eventually you will be considered an expert. I love great food combinations made with quality ingredients, so it’s really fun to experiment. What it comes down to for me is sensing what food combinations, textures, and flavors may go well together. Also, it’s important to keep in mind what you, the consumer wants. What do you want in a bar? I love getting feedback. It helps the creative process. But I still wouldn’t call myself an expert . . .
Any other hidden cooking talents we should know about?
Bacon liver pate: It’s my superfood, and should be yours too. Google the benefits of liver. It’s the real deal as long as it’s grass fed or organic. I get livers from my hunting friends. I love to cook and get creative, but it’s difficult to create the time to do so unless it has to do with Kate’s Real Food.
Any idea how many bar recipes you tested (and tested on friends) before you settled on the Tram bar?
Impossible to answer! I made a version of the Tram Bar that kept evolving for 9 years before going to market.
When did you decide to make a business out of your hobby?
I decided to make it a business when I figured I was not destined to wait tables, work at a retail shop or in the service industry anymore. My plan was to grow a successful company so that I would be able to give back to the things I love, inspire people to get outside more, eat healthier, and experience and understand the benefits of it all.
We always encourage people to be prepared in the backcountry. Food is obviously one area where you seem to excel! What else do you always have in your pack for adventures?
Tools for repairs. While we can’t always have everything for fixes, we can be pretty well prepared to fix the more common gear issues or fix any mechanical issues on your mode of transportation, whatever that may be. Water and water purification tablets, a jacket and a way to make fire. You never know what can happen when you’re in the backcountry. Always be ready to spend the night. And food. I’ll say it again. Bring more than you think you need. I’m amazed at how many people do not carry food! I also always gave zip-ties, duct tape, at least a basic first-aid kit with pain killers and a cell phone.
Other than the fact that they taste awesome, what makes Kate’s such a great backcountry staple for your pack?
I made them not only to taste great, but also to sustain my energy and easily fit in my pocket. Our bars satiate. They don’t burn up in an instant leaving you needing more. We source organic, whole, real ingredients. While we have a commercial kitchen, the bars are still hand mixed and hand rolled which lends to the home-made taste and whole food texture. Real food digests well, so you will perform well! Are you a Winter adventurer? Bonus: Kate’s bars are still chewable in the cold! We are in such beautiful places when we adventure. High quality adventure should be matched with high quality food.
What’s your favorite bar in the Kate’s lineup?
Good question! Of current bars, it may now be the Bivy Bar (coconut-lemon) but my go-to has been the Stash Bar for some time now. If not Stash, the Tram Bar... so amazingly great! I still am amazed at how great they taste.
Your business has grown a lot in the past few years, do you enjoy the travel and newfound success?
I am actually just beginning to travel a bit more now, and I do enjoy it although it can be exhausting at times. While I love the Tetons, there are so many other stunning areas in the West to experience. Not only do I get to see new and different terrain and landscape, I have also been able to meet some exceptional people.
Any new flavors, products or projects on the horizon?
New flavors, yes! Our new flavor is on shelves now . . . the Bivy Bar (lemon-coconut with a hint of ginger). We also have a couple new flavors on the horizon to come fall of this year. Stay tuned! They may be your new favorites.