Local ladies leverage love of cooking to create Inland Empire Spice

By day, Searri Shipman and Mindy Gagné work with numbers but off the clock, it's all about the nuance of flavors one gets from herbs, spices and related ingredients. The duo, who own a Spokane-based tax and accounting firm, started Inland Empire Spice in fall 2021 based on a shared love of cooking, says Gagné.

"We just had this passion for food," says Gagné, who likes to work with Italian and Mexican flavors, as well as fire up the grill.

Shipman also likes grilling. "We have a pretty wide palate at our house," she says. "My husband enjoys grilling and smoking," Shipman adds. "He's always shaking an empty bag [of spice rub] at me and saying we need to get more."

Building on their own recipes, Inland Empire Spice quickly expanded to include more than at least 100 individual spices and 50 spice blends. Some of the company's more popular blends include the Smashburger seasoning and Smokin' Huckleberry rub.

In spring 2022, Inland Empire Spice added loose leaf teas, developing more than 60 blends, to which they're still adding. Try the Bigfoot Morning Brew with black tea and "Bigfoot's favorite local plants — rosehips, elderberry, and blackberry," plus bee pollen and stevia leaf for sweetness. New seasonal tea releases include apple pie black tea, pumpkin spiced chai tea and butter beer tea — a nod to Harry Potter.

Inland Empire Spice products are available at their shop (8601 N. Division St., Suite A) or online at inlandempirespice.com.

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Carrie Scozzaro

Carrie Scozzaro spent nearly half of her career serving public education in various roles, and the other half in creative work: visual art, marketing communications, graphic design, and freelance writing, including for publications throughout Idaho, Washington, and Montana.