Made There: Spiva Cooking inspires home chefs with spice blends

Bremerton chef Sam Spiva reimagined his culinary career after the pandemic kept him out of restaurant kitchens.

Sam Spiva never planned on opening a small business. He never planned on becoming a chef, either. Yet these unexpected happenings charted a course for some of his greatest adventures.

Spiva Cooking in Bremerton was born from a love of cooking and a need to connect. Sam Spiva found himself in a culinary arts class back in high school after the other electives filled up. To his surprise, he developed a passion for cooking and embarked on a career in the kitchen. He met his wife, Heather, at the Culinary Institute of Art, and together they traveled and cooked all over the world. Eventually, Sam found himself in cruise ship kitchens, cooking and training other chefs at sea. When the pandemic shut down both cruise lines and restaurants around the world, Sam needed a new outlet.  

“I made this barbecue dry rub. I had some extra out of it and I posted it up on social media,” he explains. “And all of a sudden orders started flooding in. I had 50 pounds worth of orders to fulfill.”

This video is part of our “Made There” series about local artisans. View more videos from Seasons 1 and 2

Sam’s small-batch spice business started small, but soon he was creating new blends, designing packaging and setting up at markets. Today, he and Heather have a retail location with a grinding and packaging room where they can create fresh blends. Their custom creations have a following in their Bremerton hometown and online, but they’ve also been fortunate to find homes in restaurant kitchens across the West. 

“I still wanted a connection to my love for taking care of people, my love for hospitality, my love for coming up with food and being creative, and that had to look different,” he says. “Creating spices that people could use in their home kitchens to create this food for their family was kind of this roundabout full circle way of coming back to my original love for taking care of people through food.”

Adding instructional courses also strengthened Sam’s connection to the people he serves. Online demonstrations allowed him to continue teaching and inspiring home cooks through the lockdown. Today, Sam is adding small-group instruction to the offerings in the Spiva Cooking retail space. One tip he loves to share is how to cook the perfect steak — or whatever protein you’re enjoying these days.

Four Tips for a Perfect Steak

Tip 1: Temper your steak

Let your steak sit out about one to two hours before cooking to get them to room temperature. This will allow the steaks to cook more evenly.

Tip 2: Pre-season

Liberally apply seasoning to both sides of the steak. This can be done while the steak tempers to help tenderize and flavor the steak.

Tip 3: Heat the pan

Get your pan nice and hot before you begin cooking. Sam likes a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Let the pan establish an even heat, then add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan (try avocado oil for its high smoke point) before cooking the steak.

Tip 4: Let it rest

It’s going to be really tempting to dig in right away, but you’ll be so glad you waited! Letting your steak rest allows it to finish cooking while the juices redistribute. Give your steaks five to 10 minutes to rest before you slice into them.


*When you add the steaks to the hot pan, you’ll cook for about three minutes on each side to get a nice brown. Use your senses as you cook. The seasoning will help create a nice crust on the steak, but you don’t want the spices to burn, so trust your nose and adjust the heat if necessary. 

*Sam enjoys crushed garlic and butter in the pan while cooking the steaks. You can carefully use a spoon to baste the butter over the steaks while they cook.

*Add some vegetables! Sam parboils whole potatoes, then cools them before quartering. He then adds those potatoes to the hot pan to crisp them up. Chopped kale or chard is another great addition.


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