We're sorry to disappoint you, but you're not going to find any whimsical story about growing up in the kitchen tied to our grandmothers apron strings. There is no 150 year old family recipe that's been handed down from generation to generation. It's just us, but all great recipes have to start somewhere.
So what is our story? To explain that, we have to take you back to the beginning: One beautiful October weekend, Diane and I were on a much needed vacation in Sedona, Arizona. Joining us on our weekend of rest and relaxation was my sister Dori and her boyfriend Barry (who never met a hot sauce he didn't like). While on a leisurely stroll through the myriad of art galleries and quaint little shops, we stumbled into a store that sold nothing but hot sauces and salsas. Never in my wildest dreams did such a utopia of spicy food even exist. After sampling several of their fiery offerings we purchased a couple of sauces that they said were their finest. With our wallets a little lighter, our bags a little heavier and our tongues a little torched, we went on our merry way.
The next morning Barry and I decided to try our luck fishing. We returned a few hours later with our creels filled to the brim with fresh caught Rainbow Trout. Ok, so we caught em' at a fish farm down the street, big deal. Since I was a chef, it was my job to prepare lunch. With a couple of lemons and a red onion at my side, I went to work. I topped off the fish with a drizzle of the hot sauce that we had purchased the day before. Lunch was ready and we all sat down to enjoy our meal. Needless to say, I was greatly disappointed. Not with the trout, or my expert preparation, but with the hot sauce. If these were the best that the store had to offer, than something was amiss. I continued with a relentless verbal assault on these terrible sauces until Barry (tired of hearing it) finally issued a challenge: "You're a chef, if you think you can do better, then put up or shut up". The gauntlet had been thrown, and little did we know, it was about to change our lives forever.
As soon as we returned home, Diane and I went about our task. Not only to make a better sauce, but to create the richest most flavorful hot sauce in the world. "Hey, if you're going to do something, you might as well do it right". We knew that for it to be the best, we had to use the best ingredients that money could buy, no matter what the price.
Since I was also a Personal Trainer at the time, I wanted it to be the perfect condiment for the health conscious consumer. It had to be something that even competitive bodybuilders could use to improve their incessantly bland and very stringent diets. After three days, countless trips to the market and a couple broken blood vessels in my eye, we were ready to test our concoction on others. Lucky for us, we had a large group of guinea pigs at the restaurant where we both worked. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
It took another nine months to get the necessary government approvals and have labels made. Then came the hard parts, making it, and selling it. In those early days we sure destroyed a lot of blenders and ruined most of our clothes splattering hot sauce all over them, but we got it done. Slowly we learned how to do it better (and neater). Sales grew quickly, and it wasn't long before we both got to leave the restaurant forever. Within a few years, we outgrew the kitchen we were renting from a catering company and the time came for us to build our own factory.
Now we have a beautiful 2,400 square foot kitchen, and I even have my own office where I get to display my collection of comic books and action figures. Truth be told, I have to keep them in my office because Diane won't let me clutter up the house. We both work about 70 hours a week and rarely get a day off, but we believe that all of the long hours we put into making Ring of Fire™ Hot Sauce are justified. Every time we get an e-mail or a phone call from someone who says "this is the best hot sauce I've ever tasted" it only fuels our fire. (pardon the pun)
We still work towards that goal of making the richest most flavorful sauces in the world, regardless of cost. It still drives us, and it dictates everything we do. We know it's kind of old fashioned, and not the most cost effective business philosophy, but it works for us. What's wrong with old fashioned anyway? After all, didn't you think it was our grandmothers secret recipe or something like that?
Since you, the fans of our sauce, are our boss and we wouldn't be in business if it weren't for you, we invite you to let us know what you think of our products and what you might like to see from us in the future.
Mike and Diane
Diane and I would also like to thank her parents, Henry and Alice. Without their tireless support and all of their help, none of this would have been possible. Here's to you.
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Mike & Diane's Gourmet Kitchen, Inc.™ -- 1444 Pioneer Way, Ste #9, El Cajon, CA 92020 --619-442-0412