Locally-sourced organic pecans and an exclusive rum make Jude’s Rum Cake the best rum cake you’ll ever taste. Here are ten secrets about these Kansas City creations.
When it comes to Kansas City cuisine, most people immediately think of barbeque — tender chunks of beef, smoky slices of turkey, saucy ribs — but this cowtown’s barbeque culture has produced another local favorite, Jude’s Rum Cake.
Craig Adcock’s catering company had mouth-watering barbeque down pat, but he needed a dessert to round out his menu. Perfecting an old family recipe in partnership with his mother-in-law, Jude, the rum cakes quickly became more famous than Craig’s barbeque, and the rest is rum cake history.
UPDATE 12/08/17: The winners of the holiday season giveaway courtesy of Jude’s Rum Cake and Ergo Chef are CaraSue H. from Liberty, MO and J. Brockman serving overseas with the Kansas National Guard. Congratulations!
Here are 10 secrets about Jude’s Rum Cakes:
1. It all began with a birthday cake
On Craig’s birthday more than 20 years ago, his mother-in-law, Jude, made him a rum cake using an old family recipe and a bottle of rum he’d brought back from Panama after serving there with the National Guard. They worked on the recipe together and sold 80 cakes the first year. That was ten years ago. This year, more than 40,000 rum cakes will be sold!
2. The rum cakes co-exist with two other businesses
And soon to be three.
Rum cakes are extremely popular from November through January when customers order Jude’s Rum Cake for the holidays. Owning a highly seasonal business can add extra challenges for entrepreneurs, but Craig has two other endeavors that help fill in the gaps during the rest of the year.
Belly Up BBQ
The barbeque catering company was Craig’s first entrepreneurial venture. Over the years it has evolved into occasional catering or wine club events that Craig can fit into openings on his calendar throughout the year.
A unique farm-to-table concept for just eight people, Table Ocho dining experiences are available between February and October. The menu is built around the meats, produce, and other ingredients in season and available from Craig’s network of regional farmers.
Trademark Denied Rum
In the near future, Craig will begin bottling a further-aged version of the rum made exclusively for his rum cakes under the name Trademark Denied Rum.
3 . The rum cakes are now more famous than Craig’s BBQ
“I used to be a barbeque guy who made a rum cake, but over the past 10 years, the rum cake gained exposure across America and took the spotlight. Now I’m a rum cake guy that happens to barbeque.”
~ Craig Adcock, Owner Jude’s Rum Cake
4. Jude’s Rum Cake has its own seasonal ice cream
Christopher Elbow, Kansas City’s renowned chocolatier, is the culinary mind behind Glace Artisan Ice Cream. Over the holidays, Christopher partners with Craig to produce a Jude’s Rum Cake ice cream flavor that is as delicious as it sounds.
5. Quality ingredients are the key to a kick-ass rum cake
Obviously, rum is the most defining ingredient in a rum cake. When Craig first began Jude’s Rum Cakes, he used Barbancourt Rum from Haiti. When a massive earthquake struck the island in 2010, Craig was forced to seek another supplier. Craig used Old New Orleans Rum in Jude’s Rum Cakes next, but quickly grew wary of the carbon footprint shipping pallets of rum in bottles from New Orleans to Kansas City was leaving behind. Closer to Kansas City, Craig now works with Les Bourgeois Vineyards in Rocheport, Missouri where Trademark Denied Rum, is distilled exclusively for Jude’s Rum Cakes.
Pro Tip: Look for Trademark Denied Rum in bottles in the next few months!
Craig grew up in a small town near Hattiesburg, Mississippi surrounded by pecan trees, so he has high standards when it comes to the nuts that go into Jude’s Rum Cakes. He uses only organically-grown pecans grown on native pecan trees in a small orchard in southwestern Missouri. The pecans are sweeter and more flavorful than commodity nuts, and you can really taste the difference in Jude’s rum cakes.
6. Craig didn’t start his career in the kitchen
Between his junior and senior years of high school, Craig joined the National Guard and participated in the ROTC while attending the University of Southern Mississippi. He completed his Army officer training program in 1993 and found himself in Virginia living next door to a smart, beautiful, fellow Army officer and a kindred spirit named Teresa. The two were engaged within weeks of meeting each other and they’ve been happily married for more than two decades!
After leaving the US Army, Craig worked in Corporate America for several years, including time at Xerox and Kansas City-based Sprint. During these years, Craig traveled frequently under an $85/day per diem travel policy. As a budding foodie, Craig seized the opportunity to experience reputable, independent restaurants outside of Kansas City, often submitting $200 to $300 of meal receipts per day on his expense reports. When his boss pushed back about the cost of his dinners, Craig reminded him that the company was only reimbursing him $85/day and it didn’t really matter how much more Craig chose to spend out of his pocket.
Craig left Corporate America to pursue his food passion about a decade ago, and he hasn’t looked back.
Finally got around to having my Jude's Rum Cake from Craig's place down the way at Table Ocho. This rum cake is amazing! So good and the rum is legit. He has his own rum label just for this cake. The rum pairs perfectly and enjoy it some great Maps Coffee too while your at it. Get yours today at judesrumcake.com or visit him on your way out here. #judesrumcake #rumcake #mapscoffeekc #tableocho #oldtownlenexa #rum #sogood
7. Although Craig has traveled the world…
Between his time in the US Army, his years in Corporate America, his catering business, and personal travel, Craig has seen quite a bit of the world. He spent time in Panama with the National Guard and has enjoyed several trips to South America with Teresa. But, Craig cites a trip to Italy as an experience that changed his perspective.
“I love the Italian perspective on food. They use the fewest, highest quality ingredients they can afford, and every component does its job.”
~ Craig Adcock, Owner Jude’s Rum Cake
8. …Jude’s Rum Cakes are American made
In addition to the rum distilled in Rocheport, Missouri and the organically-grown pecans from southwestern Missouri, Craig uses:
- Minnesota-based Nordic Ware cake pans and Connecticut-based Ergo Chef knives,
- a vacuum-sealer and bags manufactured in Kansas City, and
- Locally-produced boxes and labels
While 80% of his cakes are sold directly to the customer via his website, Jude’s Rum Cakes are available in carefully-selected, locally-owned, independent restaurants and specialty grocers across the country.
9. Jude’s Rum Cakes come in four sizes
Whether you’re serving a crowd or want an after-dinner nibble, Jude’s Rum Cakes come in four sizes — large, small, mini, and teaser.
10. They are the perfect gift
Especially for the hard-to-buy-for people on your list.
And for the foodies, rockstars, and people who enjoy the finer things in life that are on your shopping list this holiday.
When I sent one to my octogenarian mother-in-law for Christmas a few years ago, she said that was all she wanted for Christmas for the rest of her life!
What about you? Have you tried Jude’s Rum Cake? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.