Written by Mark Peterson of Facepunch Foods. You can try Facepunch's hot sauce in the June version of the Craft Hot Sauce Subscription Box.
Facepunch Foods is a hot sauce and dry rub line that was started up about 2 years ago in 2017! I had been sitting on the idea since the early 2000’s, after making a few batches of sauces from the garden harvest. I was living with my uncle and godfather, Chris, and we would plant and tend to the garden. It was mainly my job, but he definitely participated too! We grew cayenne, Thai chili, and hot and sweet banana peppers in the mix, and plenty of them come harvest time!
With some guidance from another uncle, Tim, we made a batch of hot sauce with the mix of cayenne and Thai peppers, and it turned out awesome. The base was a white distilled vinegar base, and then we played around with some base seasonings and cooked down the sauce. For a few years in a row, we would make a batch or 2 of sauces, and usually gave them out to friends and family as gifts, and kept a few bottles for ourselves too! The response was always, “ Wow, this stuff is so good…you should sell this!” I have had this sauce idea simmering in my head ever since, and decided a couple of years ago, it was time to take the plunge.
Getting into the sauce business is not easy. Any food item has hurdles and frustrations, and you have to figure out if it is just a hobby or if it could be a business. I haven’t paid myself, other than the initial investment, so do not expect to be rolling in dough! I am using patience and the large number of resources out there, mainly Google and my network of restaurant owner friends, family, and a growing number of fans who have tried it at the restaurant tables I am in around the Twin Cities. If you want to scale from hobby to business, be sure to get all the necessary schooling, licensing, a cheap kitchen suitable for production, and utilize social media like a second job. It is also important to connect with local businesses, trade shows, and farmer’s markets to sell your products and build the clientele.
The hot sauce scene in Minnesota is growing, with a good group of sauce companies that are doing awesome things. I have local farms that I connected with to get peppers from in the summer, and connected with a large produce wholesaler for the winter months. This has helped me keep up with supply of peppers and to keep up with demand from the restaurants that use the sauces in their condiment lineup.
I started this company to, one day, be my soul source of income. This is taking a lot of my free time, nights and weekends, and a lot of lonely days producing, bottling, labeling, and working trade shows. It is NOT easy, but it WILL be worth it in the end. The brand I am building, Facepunch Foods, will succeed as long as I want it to happen. The desire to be self-sufficient is one part, the other is showing people that you can have varying degrees of heat with an abundance of flavors too! I’m not melting faces off, but I will make you sweat! My biggest piece of advice is be patient and be willing to work…and work all the time!
Use it on sandwiches, hoagies, Philly cheesesteaks from Goody’s Hot City Pizza, or as an addition to dressings to Make Boring Salads Great Again! ™ Add the sauces to chili, soup, dips, BBQ, marinades, but please not your eyeballs, it will sting!