DOWNERS GROVE – Downers Grove resident Mike Brindza was looking for a way to spice up his career. That’s when he decided to get involved with a hot sauce company, All Spice Cafe.
Brindza, 50, had been working in the financial futures industry for more than 30 years.
“I was kind of getting tired of it,” he said.
Brindza said a friend introduced him to J.D. Cowles, a California resident who had developed his own line of hot sauce. The operation was small, Brindza said, with sauces being delivered to local shops and restaurants.
Brindza said his friend asked if he wanted to get involved, and he ultimately decided to leave the financial world behind.
With the help of Cowles and Buddy Feldman, a Highland Park resident and veteran of sales and marketing in the food industry, All Spice Cafe set up its headquarters in Oak Brook and began distributing the sauces nationwide.
Brindza joined the team in June 2014. In that span of time, the sauces have been introduced in 600 stores, including Mariano’s, Jewel and Ultra Foods.
“We have a lot of local area covered,” he said.
The sauces are distributed in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. They’re looking into introducing it to more locations along the northeast and southeast portions of the country.
Brindza said he wanted to get involved with the company because there is a big market for hot sauce these days.
“Hot sauce, as a rule, is a really healthy product,” he said. “Growth in that segment has been exponential over the past several years.”
That, Brindza said, also makes the hot sauce market a competitive one. All Spice Cafe has four flavors: Caribbean Spice, Chipotle Garlic, Cayenne Habanero and Jolokia Ghost Pepper.
In a news release from the company, Cowles said the sauces came from experience dishes from around the world.
“I find my cooking inspiration from the most amazing ethnic cuisines the world has to offer, incorporating Thai, Indian, Caribbean and Cajun flavors into our sauces,” Cowles said in the release. “I’m kind of a ‘chile head’, and when hot peppers reach my tongue, endorphins are released and create a feeling of euphoria.”
One point of pride for the company is that they maintain the heat of the sauce without needing to reduce the flavor.
“Not a drop of flavor is sacrificed for the sake of being over-the-top and uniquely hot,” Feldman said in the release. “This isn’t just another ‘me too’ hot sauce, these are thicker, quality gourmet sauces that are great to cook with as a marinade, dip or on the barbecue.”
Brindza said the product itself is unique, as it’s more of a spicy marinade. It has its own niche between pepper sauces and barbecue sauces.
“You can take the product and it fits right between the two,” he said.
The response to the sauce has been good, and the company has experienced a good growth. For the second year, Brindza said they’re looking at more viral growth and a bigger push onto social media.
“I spend all my time on developing the product and building the brand,” he said. “It’s going to be a long building process.”
Brindza said he occasionally misses his old day job. He used to take a train into work every day. But now, he mostly works from home and can be pulled into something at any time.
“Now work is 15 feet away. The lines get a little bit blurred,” he said.
For information about the hot sauces or the company, visit www.allspicecafe.com.