Chile Town History
Leaving a successful life in DC and moving to Costa Rica in 2007 with my family to develop a golf course was a colossal leap of faith. Business had been booming in Costa Rica for some time and it seemed like a great plan. As it turned out, we were too late. The economy took a dive worldwide and slowed our project to a crawl.
It only took a few weeks before I realized I was living in hot sauce hell. It wasn’t just the lack of variety that concerned me, but the lack of eye-watering, warm-you-to-the-core heat that comes from a good hot sauce, which I soon realized I was never going to find in this area of the country. As it turns out, Costa Ricans don’t typically eat spicy food or hot sauce like they do in Mexico where my love of the all things spicy began. They don’t even have a hot pepper for sale in the grocery store where I live!!
One day, by luck, I noticed some Jalapeño seeds for sale at the local store. At that moment it occurred to me that all I had to do was grow my own peppers and I could spice up my own food. I purchased the seeds and tried growing them, as any novice would. I put them in some soil and watered them. Now, let’s make it known now that I have never been a green thumb, I had managed to keep a cactus or two alive but had never ventured much further than that with any success. My bubbling excitement for those delicious spicy jalapeños slowly started to deflate as I watched the dirt. Nothing happened. Nada! Not a sprout, not a leaf, and certainly not a pepper. Needless to say, I was annoyed and disappointed, and it became my mission to grow those damned peppers!
On the information hunt I went. I spent countless hours on the net, in books and talking to anyone I could find that could point me on the path to success. In a few short months I went from watching that pathetic would-be jalapeño plant sit and laugh at me, to having complete success and, soon, so many peppers I had filled every fridge and freezer available.
This is where my moment happened, an epiphany if you will. I suddenly realized all I had to do was to take the peppers I had just grown, and I could make my own hot sauce! In retrospect, I have no idea why that thought hadn’t come to me sooner, but what can I say? Maybe it was waiting for the right moment to strike. Whatever it was, I knew my days of plain rice and beans were over!
Back to the Internet I went, seeking available recipes to make my first, very own hot sauce that would kick-start my metabolism, make me cry out in joy, and add some fun to the bland food of Costa Rica. Several variations were tried on anyone I could convince to taste test. Taking thoughts, opinions and suggestions back to the kitchen, I began to tweak, combine and re-invent my recipes over and over until I found just the right combinations. After over a year of slicing and dicing, mashing and mixing, and fifty some sauces later, I have a solid foundation of various sauces each with it’s own identity and uniqueness.
Making the decision to sell a creation is, I suppose, the dream of all that create. It is the question, “Is this good enough that someone would buy it?” Obviously, there is only one way to find out. I printed up some labels, slapped them on the bottles of sauce, and I was in business. A family friend offered to sell the sauce at a local farmer’s market every weekend, and in a few weeks, I was getting orders for cases of sauce at a time. I couldn’t believe it! I guess you could say the rest is history, but this is just the beginning.
As I mentioned before, my innate love for hot sauce surfaced in Mexico where I worked for a brief time on a sea turtle protection project in my twenties. I have a love affair with Mexico and everything Mexican ever since I stepped foot in Baja in the early 90’s. There are people out there to this day who still believe that I am half Mexican because that’s what I used to tell people. I feel it in my blood! When developing a concept for the hot sauce, it was only natural that my so-called Mexican roots would show themselves and inevitably, I chose accordingly. Let’s face it, Mexican wrestling is just fun, loco and odd, but awesome. The counter culture that Lucha Libre encompasses is something that intrigues and excites. I mean, how many people don’t pause for a moment when channel surfing on a good, old fashioned Lucha Libre match? . Thus, the Luchadores were born, each portraying a different Mexican wrestling hot pepper.
The actual name “Chile Town” morphed into reality after one of our interns showed me the episode of The Simpson’s (Season 8, Episode 9 by the way) where Homer goes to the Springfield Chili Cook Off and they say, “Who does he think he is, the Pope of Chili Town?” And thus, Chile Town was born! The idea of a town based on chile pepper luchadores just makes me smile. Now that is a town I would like to visit. Now I’ve been asked many times “Why do you spell it Chile?”, well the answer is simple. Chili is soup, and Chilli, a word supposedly derived from the Nauhtl Indians, would have been pronounced Chee-yee in Spanish, and therefore Chile to me is the correct way to spell the word when referring to peppers.
The soul of a chile pepper, that’s our shining pot at the end of the rainbow. Each and every sauce produced by Chile Town is based on a particular type of chile pepper. Many sauce makers simply add pepper extract to the sauce, creating three or so varied degrees of hotness and call the results different. At Chile Town, the heat comes from the actual pepper - no added chemical dare set foot on our streets! Here at Chile Town we believe each pepper and each sauce has it’s own unique personality that can only truly be created if left alone. All heat levels are managed the old fashioned way by adding sweet peppers or hotter peppers to go up or down the heat scale.
The Chile Town brand represents the heart and soul of the chile pepper and everyone in Chile Town perfectly. Let this sauce get to your heart and soul and you’ll enjoy every minute of it!