Meet a Local | Elizabeth + Sam
After a disappointing fish dinner was saved only by the lime mayonnaise that accompanied it, Sam and Elizabeth decided there was a business to be built focused on creating exquisite and unique flavors of the staple condiment. Launched in late 2011, the chef and creative director-led team at Empire Mayo produces 25 varieties of mayonnaise ranging from Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil to Vadouvan and Lime Pickle.
Empire Mayonnaise Company
Founders: Elizabeth Valleau & Sam Mason
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
We waited and waited, but a quality mayonnaise just never hit the market. So we decided to fix that. I pitched Sam on the idea and after realizing how flexible mayo is as a flavor vehicle, he fell in love.
Tell us about your products.
We make exotic mayonnaises! We use only non-gmo oils, still make everything by hand, and we work with happy cage free chickens. We use yolks only for a french style mayo that has a beautiful thick custard feel. We have about 5 core flavors but depending on the season you can find upwards of 15 in the shop. White Truffle, Bacon, and Sriracha are our top sellers, but we still have a soft spot for lesser known flavors like Lime Pickle and Vadouvan.
What Does “Artisan” Mean To You?
Hopefully what it means to the rest of the world - a skilled craftsperson who specializes in handmade goods.
What is your favorite artisanal treat?
When I’m not dipping fresh veggies in to our mayo, I have a not-so-secret weakness for french macarons!
What Drew You To Food?
I have a French Mum who made everything for myself and my five brothers by hand, I was always a bit surprised when I realized this was not necessarily the “norm” amongst my peers. We are all grown up now, but our family meals are still my favorite parts of the year and its great to finally be able to cook for her with the same loving ingredients she gave to us for so very long.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
Being in Brooklyn, it is hard to simply be outside and not be inspired by flavors, this is a wildly diverse town and the variety of cultural influences is one of its best elements. Perhaps this is best represented by our 2013 holiday flavor “Pizza”.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
We are always developing new flavors, either to meet a demand or simply because we would like to eat it. Our most recent limited edition is an “Elote” mayonnaise inspired by the classic Mexican corn dish.
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
Sriracha is a newer flavor for us but has quickly become the thing I worry about running low on in my home fridge. We use an organic version of the iconic sauce, so its got all the piquant flavor but none of the nasty chemicals. I have a very high protein diet and put it on EVERYTHING so running out of that literally gives me panic attacks.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
Our Elote Mayonnaise is my latest obsession overall. You can’t really go wrong with all the ingredients of Mexican grilled corn infused into delicious mayo. Lime, paprika, chilies, cheese – we won’t make it forever so get it on our site while you can! Just grill the corn and spread on the mayo. Perfect.
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
I try to not eat dinner on weekdays. Yes, I know I’m a weirdo but it’s great for your metabolism. So my last meal was a piece of cheese around 5 pm.
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
Have you seen the recent Nicki Minaj issue of Dazed magazine? - It is BRILLIANT. She is so fine, but she is posed with a big tub of industrial grade mayonnaise in the photo. She's in this gorgeous Chanel suit, and we certainly understand that sometimes you HAVE to have a bologna sandwich, but a lady like that deserves some quality bacon mayonnaise!
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You've Gotten In Building Your Business? What Advice Would You Give Other Artisans?
You have to scale. You have to game scaling. You will be in every region of Whole Foods and still have to close your business if you don’t. Think big when you’re still small!
What Other Local Food Artisans or Chefs Do You Admire?
We are big fans of Odd Fellows Ice Cream for obvious reasons!
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
Odd Fellows Peanut Butter and Chocolate Covered Pretzel ice cream.
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?
There are just so many, meeting Sam and Wiley at WD-50, the killer sandwiches at Wedge on Franklin Ave. ...When Whole Foods opened their new Brooklyn location, "Third and Third" near the Gowanus, they started serving our White Truffle mayo on the food service menu's and I actually got a little choked up. That was a pretty happy moment for a Brooklyn girl like me.
What’s Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
I have a spooky electronic band called WOLVVES with two of my five brothers. Check us out at http://www.WOLVVES.com!
I also do brand consulting and make fine art video installations. Busy!
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?