We lived in a dilapidated old house far from campus with a few other dudes, fondly referred to as 516. The backyard was filled with dirt and dead shrubs, some of the rooms lacked insulation, the winters almost killing our roommates.
When Alex came back from a visit to L.A. with a bottle of fermented hot sauce, our lives took an interesting turn.
We couldn’t believe how delicious it was: umami, spicy, good on everything. We were inspired to replicate our initial experience with fermented flavor, so we did some self-teaching on wild fermentation with chilis from the local grocery. Our first batch of sauce was delicious, so we started making some for friends. We’d spent the bright days of long-awaited CO summer sunshine skating around campus, delivering Raw Sauce 1.0 to people from the Free & For Sale page who wanted a taste. In the evenings we’d return to 516 for fresh pizza, baked in the hearth oven, drizzled with Serrano heat.
As more and more friends—and then, eventually, strangers—enjoyed and purchased Raw Sauce, we needed more and more peppers. We’d go to the grocery store, requesting all of their back stock mid-winter, and return home to ferment and bottle in the drafty kitchen at 516.
It was an unforgettable time. Dinner parties, sharing with friends, buying out all the peppers at all the stores in town.
We finally entered a start-up competition and pitched our sauce to a panel of judges. One of our roommates dressed as a pepper in the red onesie that he wore to survive the evenings in his uninsulated room. (Accompanied by green hat stem).
When we won some money we decided to come out here to California, where the peppers grow happily year round, and the houses need no insulation. The Bay Area has long been a center of farm-to-table, sustainable food practices, which we hope to emulate.