Hot sauce expert, entrepreneur on local flavors, exploding popularity of gourmet hot sauce

Do you enjoy taking your taste buds to the limits of spiciness?

Do you seek out the hottest sauces, peppers, and seasonings to use generously on your food, regardless of how your mouth burns? Are you always in search of something hotter? If so, you might be a chilehead.

The gourmet hot sauce industry has exploded across the United States since the discovery and propagation of the Ghost Chili in 2007 as sharp culinary minds and master pepper growers have searched for the next hottest thing.

Since then, the Ghost Chile has been replaced four different times as the Guinness Book of World Records’ hottest chili pepper, a title which now belongs to the Carolina Reaper. But even with the exploding popularity of gourmet hot sauces, many areas of the country still pride themselves on the cultures and flavors that have made them famous, from the vinegar-based Tabascos of the deep south and East Coast to the jalapeno heat-heavy sauces of the West.

How are Americans’ hot sauces tastes evolving? What are the regional differences we see in hot sauces in terms of ingredients and spiciness? If you’re a chili-head, we'd like to hear from you.

For more on how the hot sauce scene is evolving in Los Angeles, check out this feature from KPCC’s Leslie Berestein-Rojas.



James Beck, aka ‘The Hot Sauce Boss; chile pepper, hot sauce, and spicy food expert, and owner of iBurn, a specialty store selling hot sauces and other spicy foods in Houston, TX

Oscar Ochoa, Local entrepreneur and creator/owner of ‘El Machete Microbrew Piquant Sauces