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Let’s Eat: Thunder Bay’s favourite dust

Shumka Dust is one local family’s pride and dream.

Shumka Dust, owned and operated by Scott and Kate Shumka and their young daughter Jordin, has been “dusting” the Thunder Bay Area with their signature herb and spice blend for five years now. The company originally started with Shumka Dust, their secret herb and spice mix. Today, it sells three more seasoning blends as well as a dredge for fish and chicken.

The newest product, launched this fall, is WICKed, which is sweetened with maple sugar. All of Shumka Dust’s previous products focused on the savoury side of things, so this is new for the company. “It’s sweet and smoky,” Kate says, explaining that people use it for ribs, chicken, and breakfast bacon. “It can be used before cooking, after, or both,” she adds.

“We’re always thinking and dreaming up new ideas and wanting to continuously add to our product line,” Kate says. Another new product, launched about a year ago, is Awakened Giant, a savoury seasoning mix with bright fresh flavours from lemon and orange zest. “It’s got more of a citrusy Mediterranean vibe,” she says. “Like all our spices, you can play around with it.”

The original Shumka Dust, which contains much less salt than most commercially available seasoning mixes, is still their best seller. In the summer months, Moonlight Bay Dredge, a coating mix with flour, sells well, because it is convenient for people to take it to camp or on fishing trips.

Wild Thyme, which recently relocated to a new location on Cumberland Street, is the newest restaurant to add Shumka Dust to its menu. “They’re featuring a few feature dishes with our products,” Kate says.

Shumka Dust is now sold at more than 50 retailers in Thunder Bay, Dryden and Kenora, including two Safeways and three Metros in Thunder Bay. The family also works with a local company, which sells their products on Amazon. “It’s definitely selling all across Canada now,” Kate says.

Since the pandemic started, the Shumka family has really felt and appreciated Thunder Bay’s love for local. “The community has definitely stepped up with producing local, and supporting more local, which is awesome,” Kate says.

The company is still a family-owned and operated business, and the three of them blend and package the spices at their family home.

“We’ve now officially been in business for five years. Every year we are growing and it’s really nice to see that we’re supported, and that we’re able to grow like this,” she says. “I’m grateful to the community of Thunder Bay for supporting our family dream.”

The Shumka family hopes that there is a road trip in their future, perhaps next year. Currently, retailers and restaurants that carry or use Shumka Dust are all in Northwestern Ontario, but they believe their products have the potential to make it beyond the region.

“Hopefully once everything is back to normal, we’re hoping to get on the road and do some shows, out of town, travel, go to southern Ontario,” she says. “We’ll stop along the way and see if little shops would like to carry us as well.”

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