Owner of Ground-Up Flavor Company Maurice Tyms talks about how he started his hot sauce company in Georgia.
How I got started in Hot Sauce
I have a love and passion for all things culinary, food is my lover and my friend. That being said, I cook quite a bit. At least twice a day, everyday. When I moved to Decatur, Georgia from Monterey, California that passion was put into overdrive. It was really hard finding a job that matched my resume' and that afforded me a lot of free time so, I cooked more than I had in my entire life. I went through a French technique phase, an old world sausage making phase, a drying phase, an Italian simplicity phase, a preserving phase and finally a sauce phase.
That sauce phase lead me to start experimenting with chili peppers, salts, herbs, spices and vinegars. I started to come up with some really interesting combinations and after passing them out to my friends, neighbors and loved ones, the response was positive. The feedback and the way people described these creations prompted me to do some research on the hot sauce industry and weather it was viable or not. I knew very little about the industry but, after a year of diligence and recipe tinkering, not only was a viable company formed but, we had a flagship sauce as well. On May 5, 2014, Ground-Up Flavor Company LLC was formed and I had Lovestuff Five Pepper Sauce to thank for it.
Lovestuff Five Pepper Sauce is our first offering and it is the only sauce that we offer year round. It is a blend of five green chilis that are combined with rui sea salt, 5% white vinegar, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, sumac and juniper berries. The mash is then macerated for a few weeks to meld the flavors before it is cooked and bottled. We do the entire process my hand, from juicing the lemons to applying the labels.
I really wanted to develop sauces that focus on flavor profiles and flavor combinations rather than heat. I wanted to make sauces that paired well with food and could be cooked with rather than overwhelm with heat. That's why we refer to our sauce as "flavor forward pepper sauces" rather than hot sauces. I would never correct anyone for using "hot sauce", it's just our philosophy. I'm not that guy.
We do develop and offer about four other sauces throughout the year. They vary from one offs to seasonal, it all depends on what we can get our hands on to use. We have a second sauce that we release every year around late spring called Hotmess Red Pepper Sauce. It is blend of five red chili peppers (that change every year) that are roasted and aged in pinot noir. This sauce is a lot deeper then Lovestuff and has a 'meatier' flavor to it, so it's a good contrast. It is always in limited supply and people that know of it start to pre-order around January.
We have made an ancho and black truffle sauce that went over really well. A bit expensive but, so unique. We also did an immature habanero, leek and tarragon sauce that was amazing. I aged that one for a year. It was really tasty but, it had some real heat, the addicting kind. I will re-release that one soon.
Fun fact about the hot sauce industry
The tabasco pepper was first cultivated by Colonel Maunsel White and not Edmund McIlhenny. He was also the first to produce a pepper sauce using them, predating Tabasco brand sauce by 14 years.