MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – About 20 years ago, Chad Irick began his journey into spice crafting. At the end of 2019, he finally began selling his delicious spice mixtures publically.
“I’ve always loved to cook, and then I started smoking meats and realized what a game-changer it was,” Irick said. “When I cooked for friends they’d ask how I made it, what was in my rub, they’d say, ‘You should sell this,’ and I always said, ‘If you guys want some I’ll just give it to you, nobody will buy this!’
“I guess I was wrong.”
Irick, a Wyoming County native, has lived in Morgantown since 2006. With his spices perfected and ready for public consumption, Irick took to social media under his business name ‘Appalachian Huntsman.’ After opening an Etsy shop to sell his products, Hoot and Howl in downtown Morgantown began stocking some of his mixtures.
His spice packs flaunt supernatural creatures West Virginia is known for, like Mothman. Irick has been a fan of cryptids for as long as he can remember so when deciding how to decorate his packages, he turned to local artists like Liz Pavlovic and Shaun Murphy.
“I’m making a product where the ‘main characters’ have either never been seen, or are only explained through eye witness encounters,” Irick said. “Keeping all of this Appalachian, and as West Virginia is important to me and I am a terrible artist, I figured the next best thing was supporting West Virginia artists through my product.”
Pavlovic’s iconic depiction of Mothman graces different packets and bottles, including the steak and brisket dust and black chili mix. Murphy was commissioned to create the Bat Boy pork and rib rub art.
As we move into 2021, what does Irick hope to accomplish?
“I want people to have great tasting food, learn a little about cryptids if they don’t already know about them and learn more about West Virginia and the Appalachian region,” he said.
Always working on new mixtures, Irick noted he refuses to release a product until he believes it’s perfect. According to him, Appalachian Huntsman wasn’t created to be a money-maker, but rather to share his passions.
“Every time I sell to someone, I’m selling my passion, I’m selling a little piece of myself,” he said. “I’m a man of integrity, so I can never let something leave that isn’t up to par, but currently, I am working on an extreme heat version of Mothman’s Chili mix that will be limited to 50 bags and 12 jars, and a poultry rub.”
And what about the huntsmen and women who want to use his products for their wild game meat?
“It really depends on what you’re making with it,” he said. “My steak and brisket dust pairs really well with a pan-seared tenderloin or burger, but a fan favorite is using the Bat Boy, which was originally intended as a pork rub, but has definitely turned all-purpose. Using that, frying up some cubes, and then frying potatoes with it, all covered in Bat Boy is currently my favorite venison recipe. It’s quick and easy, but I’m also working on a ‘game’ seasoning for people that are looking for that more spicy and exotic flavor to pair with wild game and lamb, it’s just not perfect yet.”
Folks interested in Irick’s work can follow him on Facebook and Instagram (@appalachianhuntsman) and can go to https://www.etsy.com/shop/appalachianhuntsman/?fbclid=IwAR3JUrG0RqQ700u-DoxoBYjAtIx845YsedXuP4qAocEiu_uswFPB9z-JC7g to buy his products directly.