“We expect to double our presence to 2,000 stores next year.” – Buddy Feldman, Highland Park
by Long Hwa-shu
Some like it hot!
A trio of entrepreneurs–one from Highland Park–wants to give your food a flavor punch by making it hotter, spicier and more delicious.
The partners of All Spice Café, an Oak Brook-based manufacturer of award-winning hot sauces that promise to give an extra kick while incorporating bold flavors, are spicing up the masses. Their product with its easy-to-hold glass bottle and easy-pour top is making its way to grocery store shelves and restaurants everywhere.
“This isn’t just another `me too’ hot sauce. These are thicker, quality gourmet sauces that are great to cook with as a marinade, a dip or on the barbecue,” said Buddy Feldman of Highland Park, one of the partners, who is in charge of marketing.
It all started a year and a half ago when Don Mazzoni, a real estate developer from Chicago, was dining at a restaurant in Malibu, Calif. He liked the hot and spicy food served to him so much that he inquired about it. J.D. Cowles, the restaurant’s chef, told him that he was the creator of the sauce which had won the “Best Hot Sauce Maker” award from Los Angeles magazine. But it was only available at a few select L.A. area restaurants and online.
Convinced that the sauce had the potential for a much broader market, Mazzoni brought his friends Feldman and Michael Brindza of Downers Grove, to meet Cowles about exploring the possibility of a venture to market the sauce nationwide.
Feldman’s promotional expertise includes 25 years as executive vice president of marketing for Vita Foods Products in Chicago. He has since retired.
Brindza’s forte is in finances, having owned MF Global, a brokerage firm at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for 32 years. Besides being creator of the award winning sauce and a chef, Cowles is a film editor, according to Feldman.
It was a meeting of the minds. The three soon formed a partnership under the name All Spice Café with Brindza as the majority owner.
Soon they began producing the hot sauces—first in Memphis, Tenn., before moving to Franklin Park. They have also opened a warehouse in Elk Grove Village. The corporate name came from Cowles who had plans to open a restaurant, according to Feldman.
The company product line now include: Caribbean Spice, a medium hot space with flavor from cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice for chicken, pork and seafood; Cayenne Habanero, the Golden Chile winner of the 2014 Zest Fiery Foods Challenge as the Best Hot Wing sauce; and Jolokia Ghost Pepper, the pepper reputed as one of the hottest in the world.
“We tamed down the sauce so that just about anyone can enjoy it with their food,” a company brochure says, adding, “If you like your hot wings extra spicy, try the Ghost Pepper sauce on them, but it’s great on eggs, shrimp, kielbasa and other sausages.”
The company’s best-selling sauce is Chipotle Garlic with ”aromatic smoky flavor that is sure to add great flavor to chicken, steak, eggs and breakfast burritos.”
“The ingredients used in the sauces are all natural with no preservatives and are vegan friendly and gluten free with non GMO canola oil,” said Brindza.
The sauces, he added, are kosher. They are available in eight to 12-ounce bottles with retail prices range from $4.99 to $6.99.
“We’ve expanded our market to 650 stores in the last six months. By the end of the year we’ll be in 1,000 stores,” gushed Brindza.
“We expect to double our presence to 2,000 stores next year,” he said confidently, lauding Feldman for his expertise in marketing and his success in opening markets for the company products.
In addition to Illinois, the company has expanded its market to include Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii, said Feldman. Among area supermarkets carrying its products are Mariano’s, Jewel and Sunset Foods, as well as select stores and restaurants.
You can’t miss the hot stuff from All Spice Café because the bottles carry the image of the creator of the original sauce with his eye brows, mustaches and tongue rendered with hot peppers.
For information about All Spice Café gourmet sauces and for recipes, visit www.AllSpiceCafe.com.