Jake Slagle jumped from the house to the soupWhen it comes...


December 27, 1992|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Jake Slagle jumped from the house to the soup

When it comes to food, Jake Slagle is fearless.

Maybe he has to be. Why else would he sell a thriving business to make soup?

"I know this is a tremendous gamble," says Mr. Slagle, 47. "The only reason I take it is because I have this obsession to seek out unusual foods."

As the owner of Denzer's Food Products, he hopes others share his passion, particularly for "Carolina Conch" Chowder, a spicy blend of seafood, tomato and garlic he's just created. (The company is named after Denzer, a Jamaican friend.)

It took a mid-life crisis to make Mr. Slagle realize that food -- and not the family homeowners' service he was running -- was his great pleasure in life.

Although he declines to reveal his exact chowder recipe, he sayhis secret ingredient is barbecue sauce.

And tepid tongues, be forewarned: Mr. Slagle likes his soup on the fiery side.

But even as a child, Mr. Slagle had unusual taste buds. He would impress friends by eating grasshoppers. By 13, he was buying canned rattlesnake. And when his two sons were toddlers, he held at least one birthday party at a sushi bar.

For Mr. Slagle, the adventure continues.

"One of these days," he says eagerly, "Denzer's is going to have a pickled bluefish."

How many times can you ponder being a rich man? Dance in your daughter's wedding? Ask your wife, "Do you love me?" and be satisfied with the answer, "I suppose I do"?

If you're John Preece, at least 500.

That's how often the Silver Spring actor has played Tevye, the lead in "Fiddler on the Roof," which will be at the Lyric Opera House Tuesday through Sunday.

Despite playing the wistful milkman night after night, he says different casts and audiences keep the job interesting.

He also feels an affinity for the role.

"Tevye is a dreamer. I am too. He has five daughters and no son, so his whole life comes from the female point of view. I've been married three times. I guess that gives me a female point of view," says Mr. Preece, who is currently separated.

Although the schedule has tested his stamina at times, Mr. Preece, 45, says one of the perks has been traveling across the country. When the tour ends in April, he will have visited every state except North Dakota, Maine and Wyoming.

"Wait," he says and pauses a moment, "I think we had lunch in Wyoming."

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