Meet Casey Elsass. One half of the craftsman duo (along with Morgan) behind MixedMade + their addictive Bees Knees Spicy Honey. Casey + Morgan strive to make food that tastes extraordinary while using only natures' finest ingredients.
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
A love of food and a desire for life to be un-boring.
Tell us about your products.
Bees Knees Spicy Honey is handmade in Brooklyn using the highest quality honey from the Hudson Valley. With a sweet kick up front that builds to a spicy intensity, this chili-infused honey is the last hot sauce you'll ever need.
What Does Being A Small-Batch “Craftsman” Mean To You?
It means connecting to not only your product, but your community as well. We have strong relationships with our customers, suppliers, even the managers at our local post office. It takes a much larger team than just the three of us to make this business run and it's fantastic to have that personal connection to your entire chain.
What is your favorite small-batch treat?
I've gotten to know a lot of Brooklyn makers over the past year (and eat a lot of samples) and I'd say the thing I'm always pining for is Morning Dove Brittle's Rosemary Pecan brittle. So addictive!
What Drew You To Food?
I grew up in New Hampshire, so we got our groceries directly from the farms in the area and had a garden in the backyard as well. It made me understand the connectivity of ingredients and gave me a strong sense of improvisation in the kitchen since my mom rarely used a recipe.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
New York is the food capital of the world (yeah, I said it) and I've used every opportunity to taste every corner of the globe. The Columbian arepas carts in Jackson Heights, the soulful Liberian food in deep Queens, Trinidadian doubles in Bed-Stuy, Hanan pulled noodles in Chinatown, and the super-sized Italian-American fare of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx all find their way back into my kitchen.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
We're in the testing process for our next product, which we're keeping tightly under wraps.
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
Bees Knees Spicy Honey, of course.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
I got really into pickling this past summer, so I always keep my pantry stocked with peppercorns, coriander seed, and mustard seed.
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
I went wild at Bunker, this outstandingly good Vietnamese place in Ridgewood and one of my favorite restaurants in the city. I had papaya salad, bahn xeo, crispy eggplant, sauteed pea shoots, and this insanely good vegetable curry that's a secret off-menu item. And a bunch of Singha beer to wash it down.
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
I think Celia Cruz would have loved spicy honey.
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other craftsmen?
The best advice we're ever gotten was simplify, simplify, simplify. To other makers I'd say, use other brands for inspiration but don't compare yourself; everyone is running a different race.
What Other Local Food Craftsmen or Chefs Do You Admire?
I admire anyone who goes after anything, not just in food. Musicians, artists, writers, carpenters, florists, designers, anyone who has something to say and finds a way to say should be held in high esteem.
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
Embarrassing but true, frosted cinnamon-sugar Pop-Tarts.
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?
The greatest meal I've ever had was on a small island off the coast of Belize called Caye Caulker. I made friends with a local guy at a sandy beach bar who was headed to a late dinner party and insisted I come. So I hopped onto the back of his golf cart and we drove deep into the swamp lands up to this gorgeous house. It turned out I had been invited to an intimate dinner party thrown by the ambassador to Bangkok and his Thai girlfriend had taken over the kitchen to churn out dish after fiery, authentic, incredible dish. That night was the first time I understood what rice is really supposed to taste like, learned the meaning of casual elegance, ate and drank like a king, and the endless conversation led us to the most magical sunrise. Food is so connective.
What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
Right now, I'm enjoying snowball fights. In nicer weather, I love riding my bike everywhere and weekend adventures upstate.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
Usually classic rock, like Faces, Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, the Byrds, but lately Rae Sremmurd and Dej Loaf have been inspiring me.
What is your favorite recipe to make with Bees Knees Spicy Honey?
We recently posted a Super Bowl-inspired recipe for Spicy Honey Ginger Wings and we keep getting tagged in Instagram photos of our followers' recreations. It must be a hit!
What other product in our February basket would you most want to try?
Brassica and Brine's herbal sauerkraut sounds incredible, and frankly I'm angry I didn't think of it first.
Follow along with Casey + MixedMade to see what they come up with next: