Hoff & Pepper is on a role in their first year of hot sauce production. This Chattanooga, Tennessee small batch hot sauce company is bringing their hobby into a business. They specialize in one sauce, the Hoff Sauce and hope to see great results at the 2016 World Hot Sauce Awards. This is our first hot sauce company from Tennessee featured on Craft Hot Sauce.
How I Got Started in Hot Sauce- At a very young age I always loved heat. I remember being 5 years old and reaching for pickled jalapeños and cheddar cheese as a snack rather than Twinkies. I’m also a passionate home cook and enjoy making folks happy with food. Three years ago, my Wife and I decided to give out handmade food products as Christmas gifts to friends and family, one of those items were a new hot sauce I had been experimenting with. The sauce was a hit and word started spreading to other friends, friends of their friends, and soon I had strangers asking if they could buy my sauce. It was at that point that I decided to take a swing at turning my hobby into a “serious” hobby.
Hoff & Pepper Operation and the Hoff Sauce- Our operation is very simple as we’ve only been selling our sauce this year. Our employees are me and my wife, Pepper. We currently rent out a local coffee shop’s kitchen that is closed on Sundays which is when we manufacture it. Everything is done by hand. None of our tools are expensive compared to most operations and there’s a lot of care put into the making sure everything has a craft made feel. We use a Vitamix to do a lot of our blending along with large immersion blender to chop up the chiles. We cook the sauce in a 16-gallon brew kettle with a spigot that we hot fill each bottle with by hand. Even our packaging is hand made as we use an old school letterpress process to print our labels on a high-quality paper stock that you can’t get with adhesive on it. That means that we apply glue to each label with a brush before placing them on the bottles. It’s a lot of work, but we want our sauce to be something you want on display and enjoy picking up and using - like a fine bottle of whiskey. Hence, the flask bottle.
The only sauce we sell is Hoff Sauce, a very simple pepper sauce that we feel packs a lot of flavor, appeals to a large group of people, and goes with just about anything you want to put it on. The name comes from the fact that my last name is Hoffman and my friends call me “Hoff”. It was only natural to take advantage of that play on words and call it Hoff Sauce (although I like to think I’m Hoff without the Hassel). The sauce itself is a more flavorful version of what you would typically find in grocery stores or at most restaurants. I use a combination of red jalapeños, habaneros, and a touch of chipotle. The other ingredients are vinegar, garlic and salt. I feel the simplicity of the sauce is a big part of its success because it is familiar to most people, but a step up from what they’re used to.
Our experience with the industry thus far- Honestly I wouldn’t label myself a “Chile Head” and I don’t know much at all about the industry. I have experienced a great response so far from other hot sauce industry folks and I really do feel like it’s a welcoming family. I have a lot to learn from all of you and can’t wait to talk shop with you.