In 2018, Father Jim Sichko of Kentucky launched a tasty tribute to his late mother: Miss Marie’s Spaghetti Sauce, a commercially produce sauce that used her original recipe.
Now the sauce is taking off in a big way.
Delta Airlines, the biggest in the U.S., is going to use Miss Marie’s in its Sky Clubs in four very busy airports: Cincinnati, Boston, Detroit and Atlanta. The airline also will use it for chef’s tables and pop-up events where it will be given away to passengers with cards featuring Sichko family recipes for using the sauce.
Proceeds from the sales of Miss Marie’s have raised more than $100,000 for charities in Kentucky and in Texas, where his mother lived, Sichko said. .
“That will help the charities in amazing ways. I look forward to being able to present more checks to them,” Sichko said.
Executives from Delta spoke via video Wednesday night at an announcement in Lexington.
“We’re delighted that we’re going to start serving, in some of our Sky Clubs, your mom’s sauce,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “I know this is something that is very close to your heart. I know there’s tremendous good that you’ve been able to do with the proceeds from Miss Marie’s Sauce and I could not be happier that we, together, will be able to bring to our customers what we know is special about you and your family and the connection that we share.”
And John Laughter, COO of Delta, added, “I am so thrilled to hear that Miss Marie’s Sauce is going to be in the Delta Sky Club. You know, that’s a pretty big feat, in and of itself, to work your way into the Sky Club and to be part of doing something great with Delta people, with Delta customers.”
This will mean a big expansion for Sichko’s one-man operation but he’s excited.
“I say we’re doing it on a wing and a prayer,” he said. An all-natural Kentucky Proud product, Miss Marie’s is produced in Louisville by Bluegrass Superior Foods and available in stores including Critchfield’s, Whole Foods and Kroger in Kentucky and a variety of restaurants locally. You can also order Miss Marie’s directly online at frjims.com.
Patterned on actor Paul Newman’s philanthropic culinary achievements, Sichko “wanted a sauce where the proceeds were also going to feed others.”
And it has. The sauce has sent money to the Southeast Texas Hospice, which helped his family when his mother died in January 2018, It’s also sent money to the Lexington Diocese for feeding the poor in Appalachia, Sichko said.
Sichko, who is a papal missionary of mercy for Pope Francis, said he never expected this result but isn’t entirely surprised because the sauce is quite tasty.
“The main reason I wanted to do this was to bring people together around the table. That was extremely important for my mother and my family,” Sichko said.
To thank Lexington chefs who have persevered through the COVID pandemic, Sichko on Wednesday had a surprise: He invited them to the Delta announcement and called them up to present special gifts. Each in attendance got two free round-trip tickets on Delta as a sign of his appreciation.
“The pandemic has been very difficult for them,” Sichko said. “This is my way of doing the mission of mercy with the sauce.”