I love hot sauce... and that’s where it begins. I come from Vancouver, BC Canada which hosts a massive selection of hot sauces. I moved to Thailand in 2011, where there are very few hot sauces and have spent these years building a bar, Kamala Beergarden that tries to differentiate by selling great food and beer.
I had a beer one day on the beach with an American buddy and we got to talking about why Thailand doesn’t have a signature hot sauce as spicy food goes hand in hand with the country. He is long-time friends with Trinidad Charlie and familiar with the challenges and successes he has had with his hot sauces. This conversation stuck with me as hot sauce is something I love to consume, but never thought of making.
One night last year, in our very long low season, I walked by our kitchen to see staff watching movies on their phones with headphones on. I thought about it and it hit me... get them making hot sauce, be different. Our staff is great and they work hard when there is something to do, but low season is very slow.
Research began... I was excited about the idea because I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, so the whole idea was never that big a stretch. I started watching all kinds of things on YouTube, read different forums and websites including CraftHotSauce.com, listened to the Craft Hot Sauce Podcast and just devoured any information I could find.
I wanted to make some hot sauces without sugar and preservatives, just natural, using local Thai grown ingredients. I found a source for habanero peppers up near Chiang Mai and along with the local markets here in Kamala Phuket, and I started experimenting. Like I do with recipes for food, I picked a few ingredients from this article, a few from that video and so on. Surprisingly, the first few batches gave me some confidence that I could actually make this stuff.
I needed a name, but nothing came to mind so I just used the name of my Thai Company I operate the bar under, Jimmy Trim Enterprises, so with this Jimmy Trim’s Hot Sauces were born. Using my staff and customers as taste testers, we developed the Mango Pineapple, JT X-tra Hot Sauce, Carrot Ginger and the Roasted Garlic hot sauces. There were several variations along the way and certainly I expect more coming, but that’s where we're at now one year after the first batch.
The making of hot sauce is much easier than packaging it for sale, especially living on an island in Thailand where the hot sauce community is basically non-existent. I sourced some bottles in Bangkok, a local buddy and my logo designer back in Vancouver developed a label solution, and got some shrink bands delivered out of China.
I will never forget the first bottle I sold. It was to a Singapore based English guy, who was sampling the sauce at the bar and he loved it. He took it home and told me his girlfriend in Singapore was putting it on everything. He’s been back a few times since then to reload and we remain friends today.
We have only sold about 400 bottles of sauce so far which is probably 75% to tourists who try it at the bar and are here on vacation, and about 25% to people in Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai etc. who we send bottles to by post. Many have discovered us from our Facebook / Instagram / Twitter pages or are referrals from other customers. We just sell inside Thailand because delivery costs outside Thailand are off the charts and our only retail location is my bar in Kamala.
The reception of the sauces so far has been great, more so than I could have hoped for. But the problem is, my kitchen staff are still watching too many movies.... because I’m still making the sauces.
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