James White | San Augustin
James started San Augustin Datil Pepper Table Sauce along with Tim and Catherine Bucolo as a way to share the flavor of their beloved Datil Pepper - typically only found in the South Eastern United States. Utilizing only natural ingredients and a smoking process, James + San Augustin are crafting a superior product that is the perfect staple for any home kitchen table.
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
It wasn’t until I moved to St. Augustine, Florida that I discovered the city’s best kept secret: the datil pepper. Brought over by Minorcan immigrants, their beloved datil pepper is similar in heat to a habanero pepper, but has a sweeter, fruitier flavor. The first time I experienced a fresh datil pepper it was from my own garden, from a plant gifted to me by a neighbor. How had I not known about this pepper? It should be in everything! Being in the food industry for the past 16 years, the next logical step for me was to experiment with cooking with it. After exploring its flavor profile some more, I knew it would be perfect in a sauce. In this region of Florida there are many other datil peppers sauces, most of which use ketchup as a base; the result is very syrupy and overly sweet. My goal was to create an all-natural savory datil pepper sauce with a focus on flavor. That is when it came to me to smoke the peppers; it’s tempers the heat and brings the subtle undertones of the pepper to the forefront.
Tell us about your products.
San Augustin Datil Pepper Table Sauce delivers a sweet and fiery flavor, with a lingering smokiness. This sauce is not a typical “hot” sauce, but a premium Table Sauce containing all natural and local ingredients. We personally slow smoke our fresh local datil peppers for each batch. The addition of dry sherry wine creates a unique sweetness without the use of so much sugar.
What Does Being A Small-Batch “Craftsman” Mean To You?
It gives me the opportunity to put my personal touch on each batch. Smoking the peppers is a ritual where each step of the process has to be perfectly executed. It took two years to get the recipe just right, so I fear any deviation from the original process will alter the flavor. I love getting the first taste of the sauce directly from the large kettle right after each batch is made.
What is your favorite small-batch treat?
I love trying unique regional condiments and sauces; BBQ, hot sauces, marinades, rubs, etc.
What Drew You To Food?
I have been drawn to food ever since my first busboy gig at age 15. I remember seeing the cooks in the kitchen and being amazed at what they were producing. I loved seeing how everything worked. 18 years later, I am still in the industry and I’m still amazed.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
My inspiration for this sauce came from my love of food and local history. It was inspired by simple local ingredients, and the cultural influences of St. Augustine, our nation’s oldest city. The datil pepper is pretty much exclusive only to this region of Florida. Spanish dry sherry was a very popular ingredient in traditional local dishes. This gave me the inspiration to use it in my sauce. In a city with so much culture, I only thought it right to showcase these ingredients it the sauce.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
Right now we are just focusing on the table sauce. We have been toiling in the kitchen with some other sauce recipes but one thing is for sure: the datil pepper will be the star of any product we produce.
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
My wife buys them for our two-year old, but I can’t stop eating Trader Joe’s Roasted Plantain Chips.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
Lasagna, made using my deceased grandmother’s old Sicilian family recipe. The recipe has been passed down for generations from memory, but never written down (in all fairness, my aunt made this batch, I still haven’t managed to get it just right). It involves slow braising a pork shoulder and tastes like a piece of Heaven.
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other craftsmen?
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Work hard, be patient, and good things will come your way.
What Other Local Food Craftsmen or Chefs Do You Admire?
There’s a gentlemen in St. Augustine who brings his smoker to the Lincolnville Farmers Market, and he makes some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. You can also find him smoking on the side of Holmes Road; you’ll know he’s out there when you see a long line of people waiting by the roadside.
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?
The Back 40 Urban Café and Gas Full Service Restaurant, both located in St. Augustine.
What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
Spending time with my wife and daughter; we love a good dance party.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
Anything 90’s alternative.
What is your favorite recipe to make with the product featured in our basket?
Tuscan Kale + Potatoes
2-3 sweet potatoes
10oz bag of chopped Tuscan kale
Spices (salt, pepper, you can use pretty much anything here…. We love a good Southwest Seasoning blend)
San Augustin Datil Pepper Table Sauce
Peel and cube sweet potatoes, drizzle with olive oil, and toss them in a frying pan over medium heat. Once they are almost cooked through, add the kale to the pan. Drizzle with additional olive oil and add spices. Cover until kale cooks down, 5-10 minutes, stirring as needed.
Once sweet potato and kale hash is complete, portion into serving bowls. Top each bowl with a sunny side up egg. Drizzle with San Augustin Datil Pepper Table Sauce.
What other product in our April basket would you most want to try?
Gordy’s Pickle Jar’s Thai Basil Jalapenos
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