Sarah’s Dumps has reimagined dumplings with their Buffalo chicken dumpwings and – most recently – pizza dumps.
“If you think about it, a lot of other ethnic cuisines have a dumpling in some form – ravioli, calzone,” says Sarah, co-owner of Sarah’s Dumps. “It’s dough filled with some kind of filling that you cook and consume.”
Run by Sarah and Nate Williams-Scalise, Sarah’s Dumps was created to give Charleston a quick, delicious meal “that people can make like pizza rolls or frozen pizza, that don’t have a bunch of junk in them,” explains Sarah.
Their ultimate goal is to “roll the beauty of adoption, cultural similarities and deliciousness into one lil’ dump that’s cute AF.”
Sarah’s Dumps Shares Tradition, Making Dump Day The Best Day
Having been adopted herself, Sarah learned how to make traditional Korean dumplings at a Korean culture camp. “I’d learn about games that you’d play or fan dancing – but I always remember making Korean dumplings,” says Sarah. “It was the most fun for me.”
Throughout her life, mandu – the traditional Korean dumpling – became her own tradition that she shared with friends and family, until a themed potluck at Lowcountry Local First’s co-working space inspired more.
“It was the first time in my whole life that I made mandu and people that I didn’t personally know said they were really good,” says Sarah.
After running a poll on Facebook and Instagram asking if there was any interest in buying the dumplings, and receiving 200+ responses, Sarah’s Dumps was born.
“Dumplings exist in Charleston, but [we thought] maybe we can do something different,” says Sarah. “We wanted to do something where a restaurant wasn’t the end goal – so we came up with frozen dumps.”
Available in bags of 30 dumps, Sarah and Nate hand deliver orders to customers, albeit contactless at the moment.
“At least one delivery every day, the person we’re delivering to is waiting at the door for us, or the kids come running out [if they’ve had the dumplings before], and they’re so excited,” says Sarah. “It’s truly the reaction we live for.”
“There are emails we’ll get back when we send the confirmation, and people say ‘we’re so excited and grateful, dump day is our favorite day of the week!’,” says Sarah. “Those moments seem so small to a lot of people but it really – especially this year – they mean so much to us.”
“We’ll drop dumps off in the evenings, they’ll eat them for dinner and order more that night.”
Sarah’s Dumps Combines Tradition With Innovation
“We wanted to start with a traditional mandu,” says Sarah. “Growing up I don’t remember using pork but we know that it helps a lot with the
flavor, so we did pork and ground beef, cabbage, garlic, soy sauce – typical Korean ingredients.”
It wasn’t long before they began experimenting with different flavors.
“We had some extra Buffalo chicken dip that we made in a crockpot and we were like, what if we put this in a dumpling,” says Sarah.
After trying a few cheese content to ingredient ratios, they found the perfect mixture for their Buffalo chicken dumpwings.
“[At first] it was super cheesy and gooey. [We] decreased the cheese content in it, and got the Buffalo sauce from where the Buffalochicken wing was invented – Anchor Bar,” says Sarah.
“It’s very kid friendly. We try not to make the Buffalo chicken too spicy – more like a mild.”
They’ve since added a Vegan (Mushroom) Dump to their regular menu as well.
“We realized that a lot of people don’t eat meat. Our dumpling doesn’t contain any kind of egg, so it is vegan,” says Sarah. “We used vermicelli rice noodles so that the other sauces and garlic and ginger weren’t just rolling around in the dumplings. We made and tweaked them over and over.”
“Nate makes all of the filling for all of the dumplings that we do in house, so I just trust from a texture standpoint what he thinks is best.”
Sarah’s Dumps Collaborates With Local Restaurants
If you follow Sarah’s Dumps on IG, you might recall their Paella Dumps, created in collaboration with The Castejóns.
“The whole idea is a local chef or pop-up would create the filling so we still use our normal go-to market model, but fill them with something someone else has created,” says Sarah.
Most recently Sarah’s Dumps collaborated with First Name Basis and Off Track Ice Cream to create a pre-Thanksgiving package, giving people “easy access to good local food without having to leave the house.”
Sarah and Amanda, owner of First Name Basis, had originally talked about doing a pizza dump. “It was a no brainer. The pizza roll is still out there but full of sodium. [We thought] it would be cool for us to make more of a fresher pizza-style dumpling,” says Sarah.
The idea to do a bundle was formed by chance. “I was getting supplies ready for a photo shoot for our dumps and the photographer said to bring some freezer items that look good. So I grabbed some Off Track ice cream and First Name Basis frozen pizza,” says Sarah. “[And I thought] oh, maybe we should do a bundle since we all have frozen products.”
Each bundle included one bag of Sarah’s Dumps, two pints of Off Track ice cream and two First Name Basis frozen pizzas.
“The bundle was really fun because the three products are so different, so the following of the three brands is not always overlapping,” says Sarah. “We’re seeing more interest and understanding that there are local frozen products that you can’t find even in a local grocery store.”
“It’s been cool to see how something so simple has just opened up the conversation for all of our respective businesses,” says Sarah.
On Creating New Flavors
“It all comes back to how easily I can scoop it into a two teaspoon scoop and then wrap,” says Sarah. “Most things you can put in a dump and it will taste good as long as it can be pre-cooked so when people cook them at home it’ll be super quick.”
After developing their Buffalo chicken dumpwing, Sarah and Nate knew a pizza dump would be a no brainer. “It was just figuring out how to melt down ricotta or chop up mozzarella. We left it up to Amanda to create the filler and she would bring it to me and I would wrap it.”
The key is balancing flavors and textures.
“The first iteration of ricotta was too runny to wrap so we did a second round. We knew based on the Buffalo chicken dumpwing that cheese is good but the outside needs to be crunchy to balance the gooey.”
As Sarah looks forward to new collaborations, she thinks “BBQ will be great because it’s already smoked and cooked – maybe just combine with pickles and greens to give a little punch.”
“It’s really important to us to support other small local places. We try to balance well known with the pop-ups that are trying to get a following,” says Sarah.
We Asked: What’s The Best Way To Enjoy Dumps?
“My go-to is always traditional, and that by far and large has been the most popular,” says Sarah.
“I say start with the traditional (if you eat pork). How I make them is exactly the instructions we put on the cooking cards: Pan fry the bottoms until they get a little browned and crunchy. Add a little water, and let them steam up until the tops are soft. Let the water evaporate to re-crunch the bottom,” says Sarah.
“[It’s all about the] balance of soft and crunch within the same bite.”
“Nate’s favorite is the Buffalo chicken dumpwing. I think it’s just because he loves Buffalo chicken dip. We actually deep fry those – so they get super crispy – for three minutes,” says Sarah.
You can also stop by CHS Beer Works for one of their favorite combinations. “We sell them [Buffalo chicken dumpwing] directly to CHS Beer Works. We said, what if we ordered the dumps and had them toss it in their Buffalo hot sauce? It was game changing.”
If you’re wondering how Sarah’s Dumps are made, keep an eye out for their in-person classes. With luck, they’ll resume in 2021.
Sarah’s Dumps Made At Home
“We give each person that does a class a pair of Korean stainless steel chopsticks and the recipe,” says Sarah. “We wanted it to be a family or friend thing. A reason for people to gather around the table. We both grew up with a very family focused mindset and that’s what we want to carry into our business.”
“For me, it was really important that people understood what it took to make these dumplings because it’s not as easy as pressing a button – everything is hand mixed, hand folded, hand bagged. But they could also see how easy it is to make these so if they wanted to do that – it’s a whole activity, like in Crazy Rich Asians,” Sarah says.
Given the pandemic, their classes are on hold for now but Sarah and Nate hope to be able to teach Charleston the art of handmade dumps by the second half of 2021.
“[We’re looking forward to] getting back into the community in a way that makes sense – where we feel safe and others feel safe.”
“It’s important to us to use this product as a way to talk about adoption and how you don’t have to share blood with your family, especially for people who can’t have kids but want them.[Adoption] is a beautiful option,” says Sarah.