Meet A Local Monday | Chris Ginder
Welcome back to Meet A Local Monday's! This week we met up with Los Angeles artisanal superstar, Chris Ginder of Gindo's Spice of Life to discuss making the leap into the world of artisanal producer and the transition from starting out to finding success as a small-batch creator.
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
My friends kept asking me why I never bottled my sauces. One day, after too many glasses of wine, I thought, why not? It took me two years research and development combined with working multiple jobs, but I did it.
Tell us about your products.
We make fresh and spicy pepper sauces. Basically, they’re hot sauces, but we use only the freshest, highest quality ingredients. Instead of fermenting or using dehydrated powders or pastes, we use whole peppers and compliment them with blends of sea salts to help bring out subtle nuances of flavor. Our original red sauce is composed of sweet red bell and habanero peppers, as well as Himalayan, Black Lava and Alaea sea salts. It’s a perfect balance of heat and flavor, meant to compliment food and not overpower it. We also have our golden Honey Habanero, which is lusciously sweet with a fiery finish, and our Jalapeno Poblano green, which is slightly milder and more zesty and tangy. We use them in recipes while cooking, pour over a finished plate to add a little extra kick, or infuse a delicious cocktail with a splash of Gindo’s to give it that perfect zing. However you prefer your spice, these are great all-around sauces.
What Does “Artisan” Mean To You?
When I think of “artisan” or “artisanal,” I picture a carpenter in a wood shop meticulously fabricating a piece of furniture that he’s truly proud of. Although I no longer produce my sauces in my own kitchen, I’ve certainly spent years perfecting them and I continue to oversee production and taste each batch before giving it my stamp of approval. I’ve been known to donate hundreds of bottles to charity that didn’t meet our standards of flavor and satisfaction.
What Drew You To Food?
Cooking has always been sort of an escape or therapy for me. I started cooking when I was about 6 years old, making scrambled eggs and omelets. As I grew older, I pretty much took on most of the cooking responsibilities at parties with friends and family. I’ve also always worked in restaurants and I feel like there’s something to be said for that. Being around food in a professional environment has helped me dial into different flavors and styles of cooking. Whenever I taste something that I love at a restaurant or friend’s house, I always have to go home and try to recreate it.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
I’m gonna have to say my wife. She was a very picky eater until we started dating and as someone who is extremely passionate about it, I did everything in my power to change that. She would say stuff like, “I hate chicken, it’s too dry and flavorless,” or “I can’t stand onions,” and then I would make it my goal to get her to change her mind about it. Now the girl eats just about anything as long as it’s made right. Of course, it recently occurred to me that she has successfully manipulated me into cooking every meal.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
I’m toying around with a Muang Thai chili pepper sauce. I haven’t quite nailed it yet, but it’s close. I’m also developing a unique condiment with a local chef buddy of mine, but I can’t talk about it yet.
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
Salts. I’m amazed by how different the flavors can be from one salt to the other.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
Bolete mushroom powder. It’s become my secret ingredient in a lot of the food I prepare at home.
What Person, Living Or Dead, Would You Most Like To Have Try Your Product?
Oh man that’s a good question! I’d really have to think about that. Let’s go with Jimmy Fallon.
What’s The Best Piece Of Advice You’ve Gotten In Building Your Business?
Write a mission statement so you can read it from time to time whenever you have a big decision to make. This will help remind you why you started this craziness in the first place and help reign you in when you get off track.
What Advice Would You Give Other Artisans?
Stay positive. Try not to get sucked into other people’s negativity. If it were easy, everyone would do it!
What Other Local Food Artisans or Chefs Do You Admire?
Chefs Michael Voltaggio, Ludo Lefebvre, Kris Morningstar, and John Shook and Vinny Dotolo. As for local artisans, Brian Hepp of Hepp’s Salt Company and Aaron Von Holland of M.F.E.O. Oh, and Nick Offerman. I think he’s local.
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?
I’ve been pretty lucky and spoiled when it comes to food over the years, but I think it has to be the eight-course foie gras feast at Animal prepared by Chef’s Ludo Lefebvre, John Shook and Vinny Dotolo, before it was outlawed in California. It was like running in slow motion on a hillside.
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
It used to be hiking, traveling, snowboarding, surfing, going to the beach, or just drinking with friends, but lately all I want to do is watch my daughter see the world for the first time.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
1920’s music on Pandora.
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