University of Dayton alumna Katie Koster McLaughlin ’09 shares her passionate palate with her business, Feeding Francis.
To me, food is love. It always has been. So, when I first met my husband, Francis, on campus, the fact that food brought us together was almost like it was meant to be.
In fall 2008, every day, I’d leave my house on Lowes to walk my dog, and I’d pass his house on Lawnview. It was a house of guys, and they’d always be outside with their shirts off grilling and chatting. Francis said he noticed me right away and started calling me “the dog girl” because he never bothered to ask my name. He finally learned it after a night at Timothy’s.
A few weekends later, the remnants of Hurricane Ike blasted through Dayton, causing a multi-day blackout on campus. Campus buildings had power, allowing us to go to class, but houses in the neighborhood were without electricity for days.
Luckily, our stove was gas, so Francis and his roommates would come by to play cards by candlelight, and I’d cook for them — buffalo chicken egg rolls, fancy cheeseburgers, turkey reubens. I quickly earned the nickname Martha Stewart.
I wanted to be a chef, but my mother encouraged me to continue with my business degree at UD. But each project assigned to me by UD professor Tony Krystofik always related to cooking in some way. He still remembers when I pitched my infamous “Ove Glove” in his class.
In 2011, my sales job took Francis and me to Denver. We were away from our friends and family, but cooking became a constant reminder that we were home, at least for now. It was a running joke when people called to check on us, they would ask, “What are you guys up to out there?” And I would respond with, “I’m just feeding Francis.”
In 2020, during our COVID-19 quarantine, I decided to start my own company — by asking my husband if I could order 300 pounds of salt — and the Feeding Francis Salt Co. was born.
I’m now the proud owner of a national sea salt company, having shipped to more than 500 homes, with products in more than 100 stores across the U.S. We feature sea salt recipes with flavors like truffle, hickory smoked bourbon, tequila lime and cabernet. It was a different spin on salt that wasn’t currently in the marketplace — all natural, free from any byproducts or other unnatural fillers.
When I think of sharing my love of food, I think of family. And family means UD. Francis is the grandson of former UD staff member Joe McLaughlin, longtime director of sports information and the first director of alumni relations. Joe and the McLaughlins were legendary around campus.
Francis and I want to leave our daughter and son our own legacy. I don’t know if this business is that legacy, but it will at least let our kids know I followed my dreams. And that is a legacy worth passing on.
For now, I’ll just be here feeding Francis.