When I was growing up in Brooklyn – my father always grew hot chilies in our backyard garden. I would watch him eat them raw, dipping them into a small plate of salt. As I grew up I didn’t have the same passion for the very spicy. I tried hot sauces like Tabasco and other widely known sauces, but never liked the flavor they brought to food. That all changed when I went to New Orleans and was exposed to some of the most amazing food I had ever eaten. What was even better were the hot sauces. They not only packed heat, but tons of flavors, combining the savoriness of the food, with the perfect blend of heat. I was always a huge fan of bold flavors – which Creole and Cajun foods have – but the heat helps to accentuate the savory boldness and give a full mouth and a spicy finish.
After that, I was hooked. A couple of years ago I had an itch to open a business and I wanted it to be something that I loved. After reading an article on how the hot sauce industry was expanding, I knew that was what I wanted to pursue. I started researching award-winning hot sauces and contacted makers for samples. A little less than a year ago, in partnership with my good friend Craig Bauer, HotSauceWillies.com was born. The idea came from a night out with friends and a discussion about hot sauce and my love for it: what, I asked, if I created a site where you could buy the best hot sauce available? I don’t make the hot sauce, I am responsible for the site design and the buying of the sauces – Craig is responsible for the site development. Now in my spare time I travel the country to hot sauce expos and festivals, trying tons of sauces to find the best of the best to put on the site.
So you may be wondering, what happens when I go out to eat? Well, let’s just say I’m extremely picky. There are a few places that really satisfy me. It’s either find a hidden gem or pay a lot for good food. I like to get friendly with the chefs at my favorite places and they are usually more than happy to give me the recipes of their dishes so I can cook them at home.
It’s still really hard to find places that carry good hot sauce. Almost all places offer the standard Cholula, Tabasco and now sriracha. It means I’m usually carrying around sauce in my pocket when I go out to lunch or dinner.
It’s been a spicy road thus far, and it’s just going to get spicier!
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