LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Having fine taste and the highest culinary standards doesn't mean you have to shell out a lot of money at a fancy restaurant. It turns, out you can go to a Nevada Built business where an American classic is being sold by the bucket.
Popcorn can't be defined as fine dining. But that is exactly the world Jean-Francois Chavanel comes from.
"We're all from a culinary background, we were working fine dining restaurants," said Francois.
"So you went from steak and lobsters to popcorn," laughed Todd.
"Yes, absolutely," said Francois.
The decision left his family in France confused.
SOLD ACROSS THE COUNTRY
"My whole family were like, what are you doing? Popcorn what store?" said Francois. "No, they don't understand."
It was the right move to make.
More than 10 years later, Popped has been cranking out all kinds of flavors with customers across the country including a Broadway theater and Las Vegas casino-resorts.
"And so what do you call this flavor?" asked Todd
"Lemon Torte," said Francois.
"Wow," said Todd. The popcorn is finished with white chocolate and poppy seeds.
"It is like a lemon tart. A lemon pie. I've never had that popcorn flavor before," said Todd.
"This is really like dessert. I always say that," said Francois.
"This is really desert," said Todd.
"Yeah, it is desert. You don't eat as much of this like the other one," says Francois.
"Yeah, that is really decadent. But it does have a lot of depth of flavor. It's not just like lemon and sugar," said Todd.
"You can taste that it's quality ingredients and that's something you've really worked hard on," he added.
"We did," said Francois.
"You can taste it. You can taste it," said Todd.
It turns out, the weather in the Las Vegas valley is ideal for popping popcorn.
"When it comes to popcorn. Humidity is really the enemy," said Francois. "We have 10%, 5% humidity. So that really helps, you know, with the shelf life of the products."
However, the pandemic delivered Popped quite a punch.
"How many employees do you have?" asked Todd.
"Before the pandemic, we had about 10 employees," said Francois.
"And now," he continued, "one."
So, Francois had to pivot and concentrate on his website.
"During the pandemic that's something we really focused on because we had a lot of support from our community," he said. "But it was very difficult."
"So, we really pushed our sales online.".
And now he is hoping the Nevada Built business will get back to normal and Popped will hit its stride and do things like helping to fundraise for local schools again.
"Kids raise money by selling our popcorn," he said.
"So, we a big chunk that goes back to the school and then a small portion that comes back to us."
In the meantime, it is back to work perfecting flavors like Hurricane Popcorn, a favorite Francois says for local Hawaiians.
"Can I try one?" asked Todd.
"Of course," said Francois.
"So this has the seaweed in it, a little bit of wasabi, coconut oil, sugar," said Todd.
"Sesame seeds, bonito flakes," added Francois.
"Still warm," said Todd.
"It needs to cool off a little bit," Francois agreed.
"Wow! That is really special," said Todd.
"Right?" said Francois.
"I've never had any popcorn. That's incredible," said Todd.
Learn more about Popped on is on bestgourmetpopcorn.com. The gourmet popcorn shop is located on Eastern Avenue just south of the 215.