What started off almost as a hobby turned into a godsend for Vern and Peg Leippi, who used to farm in the Kronau area of Saskatchewan.
Vern had always enjoyed curing and smoking meat, and almost as an experiment they started smoking turkey legs. They tasted pretty good. The cured, smoked, and cooked drumsticks were like a treat, and their friends loved them. So, "Peg's Legs" was born, and they started selling turkey legs on a small scale.
Then, in 1998, to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary they invited about 250 friends to the farm and they decided to serve something special. Along with the turkey legs, "we made and served both kobasa (with Vern's own recipe) and meat cabbage rolls", Peg remembers. The food was a hit. "They told us, 'You should sell this, not give it away'." The Leippi's took that advice to heart.
They had been grain farming since the early 1970s, and they saw that the economy was changing so they decided to expand Peg's Legs. They went to a craft sale in Lumsden, giving out samples, "and people loved it", Peg said. "It was a major success, thank God, or we would never be here today."
So they went home to make more.
"We started our business at our kitchen table and moved it into a commercial kitchen in the basement of our home on the farm," Peg said. "Business got too big for the basement."
Their first location started out with 2025 sq feet, housing a store front and plant for rolling cabbage rolls in addition to making and smoking sausages and turkey legs. That area has now become too small and after expanding into the area next to them, the Leippi's now have a store front and restaurant as well as take out. Vern and Peg also supply non-profit groups with fund-raising opportunities. At present, the lunch is a large style cabbage roll, stick of kobasa sausage and 6 cheddar cheese perogies with sour cream…..”so delicious” notes Peg. The new menu includes even more hot items.
To meet the very high year-round demand for cabbage rolls, Vern and Peg contract with growers from the Craven area to supply cabbage. In 2004, 75,000 lbs of cabbage were used, equating to two acres of cabbage and that grows 20,000 heads.
In 2005, Peg’s Legs was awarded a plum contract to produce cabbage rolls for the food service market including hotels, restaurants and institutions. Made in the federally inspected Saskatoon Food Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, as many as eleven people stand on the line rolling and packaging cabbage rolls, which are later flash frozen and shipped and sold across Western Canada.
2006 marked a milestone change for Peg's Legs. In April, the company's name was changed to Peg's Kitchen. Although the new name clearly defines Peg's as a store for food, the story of how the name came to be is quite humorous. As Peg explains, "If you knew the story that our first product was Turkey Legs and I am Peg, then it made sense. But if you didn't know the story – the public thought we were a dance studio, hair removal, prosthesis, or chesterfield legs. So that told us we needed to change so people knew we were about food and not the things that Legs suggested."
Peg’s Kitchen is a year around business. A restaurant foremost, catering services are also available for all kinds of functions. Our freezers, fridges and shelves are full year-round and our deli serves up fresh delicious meals every day. Remember - you don't have to wait for the holidays to enjoy their products.
With a booming Saskatchewan market, the sky is the limit for Peg's Kitchen. Peg adds testimonial, "We get a lot of compliments, people phone and email us all the time. We have customers who take products home to their kids in cities all over Canada."