The other night I was out to dinner at The Pikey (former home of the Coach & Horses) when I tasted the best new hot sauce I’ve tried in a long, long time. While there are countless high-quality hot sauces out there, this sauce had exactly what I look for in a spicy condiment– an intense hit of heat that doesn’t linger, along with a complex flavor profile that enhances but does not overwhelm. Gindo’s Spice of Life is made right here in Los Angeles by bartender and entrepreneur Chris Ginder. I immediately rushed to my computer to ask Chris a few questions about his unique product, which I predict will be in every American home by the year 2015.
What’s your favorite taco?
I’d have to say Ricky’s Fish Taco’s. I’m addicted to them.
What do you think is the key to a perfect hot sauce?
The trick is to find that perfect balance between heat and flavor.
What inspired you to create Gindo’s Spice of Life?
I was going through a phase where I tried about 50 different hot sauces and couldn’t find one that really impressed me. It kind of hit me while standing in the hot sauce store at the Farmers Market at The Grove in Hollywood, “I’m growing peppers on my deck, I should just make my own.”
How did you come up with the recipe?
I spent almost 2 years working on the recipe. Anyone who looked in my fridge during that time saw the science project of my life. There seriously must have been about 150 bottles with labels and dates on them.
How about the name?
I love phrases with double meanings. Salt and pepper have both been referred to in history as the spices of life. In fact, they’ve been valued like gold and used as currency in the past, and even inspired wars among men. Nowadays, Spice of Life can mean whatever you want it to mean: your favorite food, art, music, surfing, hiking, traveling, hanging with a loved one, or having a drink with a close friend. What’s your spice of life?
The packaging is crucial to this sort of product, how did you decide on the bottle etc.?
I could probably bore you for hours talking about the process, but long story short, I wanted my bottle to stand out proudly next to the other sauces so I tried to incorporate ancient symbols that withstood the test of time. I thought about he circle representing life and liked the idea of taking a common chili pepper and turning it into a an abstract symbol cast in metal. and all the details that make it work? I also wanted packaging that would showcase the freshness and quality of my ingredients.
Before creating your own sauce, what were your “go-to” hot sauces?
I used Franks for wings, Tobasco for eggs and oysters, Sriracha for Asian food. I actually still keep all 3 in my house, but they seem to last a lot longer these days.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you while tending bar?
One time, a lady brought a teddy bear out to dinner when I was working at this restaurant in San Francisco. She actually sat it on the stool next to her at the bar, ordered it food and a coke (which made me glad because I don’t think I could have kept a straight face if I had to card it). She talked to it the whole time. I thought it was so funny that I actually started talking to the bear myself, asking him how everything was and such. I just wish I could remember his name.
Any mishaps during the initial testing/creation period of Gindo’s Spice of Life?
There’s actually been a long list of mishaps during this whole process, but I guess it’s all about how you handle adversity, right?
Do you have a lucky number?
You can buy Gindo’s Spice of Life directly from their website.