Innovative Turkey Products from Foley’s Grand Champion Meats Sweep Competition

Teri Parker, Grand Champion Meats, showing off the winning innovative turkey products.

Grand Champion Meats of Foley, Minnesota, has carved out a special place in the meat processing world. Walking into the retail location is like walking into a hall of fame and meat market in one. Nearly every wall space is adorned with awards, many of them from the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors innovative products contests.

Teri Parker, the retail store manager, is responsible for many of those awards. She has been with Grand Champion meats for more than two decades.

“I joined 25 years ago,” said Parker during a recent interview. “I graduated high school with Kelly, the owner. I went to the military, and I came back, I was looking for a job, she gave me some paperwork to do and I’m still looking for that job.”

Parker has always had a taste for flavors, often taking inspiration from her husband’s family’s Italian roots. For years, she dominated the innovative products contests, but now she encourages her co-workers to try their hand at the competitions.

“I've now taken the back seat to all these innovative creations, letting my coworkers have opportunities,” she said. “I encourage them, I help them out, guide them. I had my time and fame, so I want to let others do it.”

This year's MAMP convention offered a new innovative products contest, turkey products. Thanks to sponsorship from the Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council, Minnesota’s meat processors could try their hand at creating a new turkey product for retail.

As the entry deadline drew near, Parker realized her co-workers would not be participating in the turkey contest due to their own time constraints. Well, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete again.

Her approach to the winning item, Turketta Thighs, was spontaneous and last minute.

"I thought about it overnight and put it together. Never tried it. No one here ever had it. Just used what we had available," she explained with a laugh.

Those Turketta Thighs, as well as the second-place product, Spinach and Gouda Turkey Canoes are available for purchase at the Foley store.

Grand Champion Meats has a rich history of dedication and growth. The business started in downtown Foley in 1971. Founded by Jerry and Linda Gall, their youngest daughter, Kelly Gall Washa and her husband, Tony Washa, run the business today.

The business continued to grow and, four years ago, a second, retail-focused location off of highway25 was created.

"This place is like my little baby," Parker said, gesturing around the store. "We now have a café here, offering a variety of produce and deli meats."

The company’s operations are split between two locations. Custom processing happens at the original, downtown location. This includes the standard beef and pork, but they also do specialty livestock like alpaca, elk, and buffalo as well. Additionally, during the fall hunting season, they are busy with deer and other wild game.

Smoked products like their signature snack sticks, jerky and bacon, are all prepared downtown and sold through the retail location.

Fresh meats are cut and prepared at the retail site. The store freezers are filled with various cuts of pork, chicken, beef and even a little turkey that are seasoned or marinated, ready to cook and eat.

Additionally, the store features the Blue Ribbon Café. The café offers a variety of coffees, tea, and other drinks. They also have 32 flavors of Kemps Ice Cream, available in cake cones, waffle cones, dipped cones, bowls or to go pints and quarts. Patrons can also get shakes, malts, or floats. This is on top of breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.

There is also a seasonal location in Crosslake, Minnesota, that is open during the summer.

Grand Champion Meats' triumph at the contest not only highlights Parker's creativity but also underscores the company’s commitment to quality and innovation. Parker's spontaneous yet effective approach serves as a testament to the expertise and passion that defines Grand Champion Meats.

As the community looks forward to more innovative products and delicious offerings, Grand Champion Meats remains a cornerstone of excellence in Foley, with Parker leading the way in culinary creativity and business growth.