Alumnus Kevin Ouzts (ABJ ’04) of The Spotted Trotter, returns to the Bulldog 100 list for the first time since 2017 and is profiled below.
Kevin Ouzts is an example of a Grady College graduate who used his education outside of a traditional media role.
Although he started out working with two of Atlanta’s leading corporations, UPS and Home Depot, Ouzts soon felt the pull of a culinary career. He went back to school at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, and found chef work at Sean’s Social Club and Restaurant in Inman Park and Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta. In 2009, Ouzts won a coveted internship at the James Beard-awarded restaurant, The French Laundry, in California’s Napa Valley. When he wasn’t working at The French Laundry, he interned at The Fatted Calf, a charcuterie and meat shop in Napa, to learn the craft and prepare himself for opening The Spotted Trotter. After his return from California, he and his wife, Megan Ouzts (BBA ’02, JD ’05), opened The Spotted Trotter, a USDA-certified charcuterie and butcher shop in Atlanta. In addition to owning the business, Kevin serves as its executive chef.
The Spotted Trotter uses humanely-sourced meats through its wholesale and retail business, and has morphed from a business with start-up sales at local farmer’s markets, to a business selling products in 50 states. Currently, shoppers can find The Spotted Trotter Boutique Batched Charcuterie and meats distributed on Delta First Class flights to Europe, at the Miami Dolphins Stadium and in The Ritz Carlton hotels, just to name a few of their current partners.
Since opening The Spotted Trotter, Kevin was named the Invest Atlanta’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016 and in 2021, two of the restaurant’s salamis received Good Food Awards.
Following are some excerpts from an interview with Kevin. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Grady College: Tell us about being in business with your wife, Megan.
Kevin Ouzts: Yes, she is amazing. We met at UGA. She went there for undergrad and then went to law school there. We met in her third year of law school. She has her own career as an in-house employment attorney for Waste Management, while simultaneously running the admin/accounting and business side of The Spotted Trotter. And, we have two daughters, Olive (3-years-old) and Ruby (5-months-old). So in short, she is an absolute Badass!
GC: What skills did you learn at Grady College that you still use at The Spotted Trotter?
KO: College was a place that helped me tackle my discipline and the skills to develop a plan and follow through until it’s complete. I learned the importance of relationships and working with people who you may or may not identify with to get something completed.
GC: What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
KO: Two things: intense sacrifice in the short game develops greatness in the long game, and second: remember you don’t get what you wish for; you get what you work for.
GC: What skills should graduates and young alumni have for success early in their careers?
KO: There are several skills. Active listening is so important to business and personal relationships and something I strive to do every day. Staying calm is critical to the vitality of high pressure in any business situation. Being thorough is important because we communicate so quickly now with digital formats. Reading only the first few lines of an email or a headline of a text can lead down a very difficult road for so many, so being thorough is critical.
GC: Do you have any favorite books or podcasts to recommend to young entrepreneurs?
GC: The podcast I recommend is “Timeless Wisdom for Leading a Life of Love, Friendship and Learning: The Ezra Klein Show.” And there are two books: “The Greatest Salesman in the World” set, by Og Mandino, and “Outliers,” by Malcolm Gladwell.
GC: Charcuterie is so popular right now. To what do you attribute its popularity?
KO: The approachability of the food and the uniqueness of how it is created. There’s a mystique and unique quality to making charcuterie that folks are just starting to learn, but in actuality, it’s been a food staple in Europe for over 3000 years. It’s amazingly delicious and quite easy to enjoy.
GC: Do you have any advice for homemade charcuterie chefs?
KO: Never forget the most important but often overlooked ingredient to making good charcuterie: time! You can’t substitute for the proper amount of time that it takes to make it taste amazing. And always, no matter what recipe you are using, always, always, always use good meat.