Local hot sauce takes crown in competition – The Eastern Door
Courtesy of Nico Hoogendjik
This year, husband-and-wife powerhouse duo Nico Hoogendijk and Kary-Ann Deer of the Capsaicin Cartel have won the title of Sauce King for their Serum22 Spicy BBQ Sauce – officially earning their chilli cred and a place in the Hall of Fame. hot sauce.
The small but mighty hot sauce company makes small batches of artisanal hot sauces from local ingredients, with flavors ranging from mild to extreme to suit all types of chiliheads.
Hoogendijk and Deer started the business at the start of the pandemic, and after starting with spiced maple syrup made from hot peppers grown in their own backyard, the duo changed their business after many customers told him asked to start producing hot sauce.
“We finally bit the bullet and started making hot sauce,” Deer said. “We took a sauce that Nico has been making for 30 years and turned up the heat.”
A former professional chef, Hoogendijk, makes every sauce by hand, a dangerous business when working with the world’s hottest peppers – and the reason he’s looking to rent permanent commercial kitchen space for his production.
“It’s dangerous to work with because you can burn yourself badly while cooking, and we have to use a gas mask while cooking. That’s how intense it is,” explained Hoodensijk.
“We need at least an N95 mask when cooking our super hot sauce,” Deer noted. “We pepper sprayed each other several times! »
The YOW! The awards are part of the second edition of Heating Up The Capital, an annual hot sauce expo in the nation’s capital. Hosted by a “chilihead organization,” the sauces are graded and judged in four categories: mild, medium, hot, and extreme.
“You get points for sauce appearance, sauce smell, texture, flavor, and spiciness,” Deer explained. “They don’t judge the label. It’s anonymous, so they can’t pre-select a flavor and tag it.
Judges are selected from across the country based on their experience and passion for spices, forming a panel of 15 self-identified chiliheads.
After winning the medium category last year for their Antivirus-19 hot sauce, Hoogendijk and Deer submitted sauces to the mild, hot and extreme categories. They won third place in the mild category for their hot sauce Can’Eh’jun, joint first place in the hot category for their super hot hot sauce Sangat Pedas, and joint first place in the hot category for one of their new sauces, Serum22. .
The tie in the hot category was a great achievement for the couple.
“It was pretty exciting because we were tied with Villain Hot Sauce, and they’re legit. They’ve been in the business for a while, they have a range of sauces and they’re very, very popular. It is an honor for us to be at their side. »
“I really wanted to get the Extreme title,” Deer said. “This is the toughest category to win because how do you get that extreme heat without sacrificing flavor?”
Deer explained that they focus on flavor first and heat second, so making an extreme sauce that packed a punch without compromising on flavor was a huge challenge.
“If you win first place in the extreme category, you get legit chilli cred. You’re locked in as a big hot sauce maker.
By far, the biggest achievement of the event was winning the title of Sauce King, which the couple had only dreamed of when the competition began.
“When we were called for the trophy from Extreme and I went back to our stand, I was really happy. Then the judge said, ‘Wait a minute, you’ve also won the King of Sauce’. and that in the hot sauce world means a lot,” Deer explained.
Hot sauce connoisseur Jay Bob has tried tons of sauces, but he thinks The Capsaicin Cartel does the best. The award-winning Antivirus-19 was the first he tried.
“I’ve tried hundreds of sauces since then, and Antivirus-19 is still my favorite,” Bob said. “There is warmth, but also flavor. I’ve had the chance to try all of the Capsaicin Cartel sauces, and I haven’t had a bad one yet.
Bob was a judge this year at the YOW! price, and even with the anonymity of the competition, The Capsaicin Cartel came out on top.
“They had tough competition but it was very clear after judging that Cartel’s Sangat Pedas was everyone’s favourite,” he explained.
“Nico is a very talented chef and Kary-Ann has great labeling and design talent. It’s a real small business with two great people who love what they do.
While some of us can’t imagine running a business with our partners, Hoogendijk and Deer explain that their hot sauce business is built on their strong relationship, where respecting everyone’s role in the business is key.
“It’s really about collaboration and compromise,” Deer said.
“I’m not trying to make him more like me, and he’s not trying to make me more like him. We respect each other’s way of doing and our way of thinking.
And as for Hoogendijk, he couldn’t imagine being a chilihead without his wife.
I love her to death, and we do everything together. Running a business together has its challenges, but luckily we talk about everything. That’s the secret to success for a 16-year marriage.