Find Lucius Johnson, the owner and founder of Shake Down Rubs at the West Broadway Farmers Market with a wide array of spice rubs and an easy, welcoming smile. It’s here he sells his eight different flavor seasonings, all made with Himalayan salt – and each one is available for sampling.
Johnson grew up in his family’s kitchen, learning culinary traditions that put him on a lifelong path of sharing great food with people. He attended the Culinary Arts Program at the Arts Institute International of Minneapolis to hone those skills into a professional career in cooking. For the next fifteen years, he spent time in restaurants. Throughout all of this, Johnson came back to the tenant of cooking time and again: food has got to be properly seasoned to achieve the best flavor.
It was with his desire to share these flavors, and give home cooks an assist, that he founded Shake Down Rubs. “My most popular product is the lemon pepper garlic herb,” said Johnson. “Then, the golden turmeric curry cajun, but since I’ve come out with the pineapple passions, they are starting to become a banger.” The initial Shake Down Rub was a collection of four flavors built to amp up the home pantry, soon four more were added to the lineup. “My goal is to possibly make 10 to 12 total.”
All of his training in restaurants with specific cuisines brings the inspiration for his flavors. For example, he cooked Mexican and American dishes and also spent time in an Italian kitchen. “I was pretty much the soul food chef where I worked,” said Johnson. “And because of that experience, I was able to come up with my Aztec Maya Inca and Italian Lucci seasonings.”
Of course, all that culinary experience, and working in what the industry calls the “back of house,” a fiery line of chefs standing shoulder to shoulder, only calling out orders and instructions, doesn’t exactly train a person into a salesman. In Johnson’s first year at the market, he’s had to find balance with his natural introverted nature and engaging customers. “It has meant for me to make drastic changes in my life. It has given me the ability to stop hiding and speak out,” he said.
It’s also given market-goers the opportunity to amplify the flavors in their homemade meals: especially during the peak of summer when grills are called for fresh harvested goods and a rich side of meat to round out the meal. With Shake Down Rubs, you can transport your dish around the world and back.
Looking back at his journey, Johnson would share some sound advice with his younger self and anyone working to live their dreams. “Keep your head up. Don’t give up. Follow through. Count your blessings and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do anything. (Love your haters).”
Learn more about Lucius Johnson and Shake Down Rubs at luciusshakedownrubs.com
Every Friday from 3-7pm through the summer and fall we gather fresh food, goods, and music at the West Broadway Farmers Market. We’re featuring vendors who are proud members of the North Minneapolis community! We believe what’s produced on the Northside should be sold and shared on the Northside. Come through!