Olivia Dillan + Bill Balzer
Located on Steiner Street in the iconic Pacific Heights district of San Francisco, Olivia and Ben of Spice Ace are bringing the flavors of the world to the world travelers and locals alike.
What Inspired You To Start Your Company?
We love to cook and eat and have always enjoyed trying local dishes when we travel. We bring back spices and ingredients from every region that we explore. We opened Spice Ace as we wanted people to experience small joys from great, quality spices at affordable prices from all over the world.
Tell us about your products.
We have over 400 different herbs, spices, salts, peppercorns, chiles, sugars, extracts and blends from across the globe. We make sure we offer the freshest and best quality ingredients at affordable prices. We have tasting jars for products so that our customers can actually taste everything and explore before they purchase.
What Does Being A Small-Batch “Artisan” Mean To You?
Our focus is always on having the freshest ingredients possible - with great quality and consistency.
What is your favorite small-batch treat?
We love fresh pasta – with delicious flavors from black truffles to Calabrian chiles to saffron to the best Pecorino Romano.
What Drew You To Food?
A great meal brings joy, comfort and satisfaction whether eaten alone or best shared with family and friends. We love to experience food of a given culture and the food of a passionate chef. It is a way of exploring and sharing the world. It can be a great slice of pizza from a favorite haunt in NYC to an Adana kebab in Istanbul.
Where Does Your Food Inspiration Come From?
From our travels and eating at local restaurants all over the world. Also, our customers inspire us with their own experiences and desires.
What Products Are You Working On Now?
We recently came back from Ireland where we had the most amazing lamb dishes. Simply spiced and delicious. We are working on a new lamb blend inspired by our trip.
Do You Have a Favorite Product?
Freshly ground Phu Quoc Black Pepper from Vietnam is a quick way to enliven a dish.
Latest Ingredient Obsession?
Indeed it is Phu Quoc Black Pepper from Vietnam.
What Did You Have For Dinner Last Night?
Fresh Pasta with Fontina Cheese and White Truffles and a Wagu Ribeye Steak with a dessert of a spice cake. Delicious!
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 artisans?
Quality of products and delighting the customer is the most important aspect of a business. Also – it is important to create an environment that a customer wants to come to – so every aspect – from the physical to the food must be a warm and welcoming experience where they feel they are the most important person when they arrive.
What Other Local Food Artisans or Chefs Do You Admire?
Chef Matthew Accarrino of SPQR. SPQR is our favorite restaurant. Also, Gary Danko creates the most amazing dining experience.
If You Had To Choose Your Last Meal, What Would It Be?
Veal Parmigiana and a great pasta.
Favorite Restaurant or Food Experience?
When I (Olivia) was 13 years old, I went my friend and her family to the Pavillion – an amazing French Restaurant in NYC that sadly is no longer. The food was exquisite – each course more memorable than the next. It was then that I discovered the joys of fine dining experiencing a great chef’s vision. Today SPQR is our favorite restaurant.
What Do You Enjoy Doing Outside of the Kitchen?
Traveling around the world and enjoying Rock and Roll concerts.
What’s Your Favorite Kitchen Soundtrack?
Depends on our mood and the food – everything from blues from Muddy Waters to the Rolling Stones to Lynyrd Skynyrd.