By Chef Noah Michaels
I was looking through a really cool book the other day called Inside Chefs’ Fridges, Europe (http://www.vogue.com/article/food-recipes-inside-chefs-fridges) and noticed two interesting things. The first: who are these Chefs who have so much time to cook at home? I was lucky to scrounge a piece of baguette with some cheese and greens, eaten as a sandwich while cleaning my station at the end of the night. The second: how much of their refrigerator space was dedicated to condiments? This being the refrigerators of European Chefs, there was a lot more space dedicated to jams and mustard than ketchup and BBQ sauce. Even though much of the condiment section was taken up by fancier ingredients, many Chefs still had at least one bottle of their favorite hot sauce. I look forward to the US version of this book to help validate my own hot sauce habit as I suspect the US Chefs will dedicate significantly more refrigerator door space to this condiment.
Hot sauce has become so ingrained in the American food culture that according to an NPD report published in 2015, it has a 56% household penetration. While this is partly due to standbys like Tabasco and Franks, you can’t overlook the Sriracha impact. While Huy Fong is less than 40 years old, it sells more than 20 million bottles a year and is unable to keep up with demand. The same NPD report claims 16% of Millennials have a bottle in their fridge. The rapid growth rate of Sriracha is reflected across the category, with small batch and craft hot sauces enjoying huge success as well.
The hot sauce market has grown at 150% from 2000 to today. In order to learn more about the craft movement in hot sauce, we reached out to Noah Chaimberg, owner of Heatonist in Brooklyn, a store specializing in small batch hot sauce.
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While he does sell some HOT sauces, he’s more interested in finding ones that offer big flavor and little heat. He explained that hot sauces really reflect differences in cuisine with ingredient differences between them. We tasted a Bajan hot sauce from Barbados which was mustard based; an ancho based hot sauce from Texas which was so flavorful you could use it like ketchup and a Kiwi hot sauce made in New Zealand. All of these sauces had rich deep flavor setting them apart from the spicy vinegar bases hot sauces we grew up with. Unlike those hot sauces, which you added to a dish to brighten it up, these would inspire you to create dishes around them. With a refrigerator full of these at your disposal, you’d never struggle to figure out what to make for dinner.
For more information and insight on hot sauce, check out the articles below: