Brooklyn Petro in the News
Hot-sauce connoisseur Scott Morris heats things up at Brooklyn’s Chile Pepper Fiesta.
By Jordana Rothman
Since he perfected the recipe last fall, Texas native Scott Morris has been selling bottles of his Brooklyn Petro Exhaust hot sauce (brooklynpetro.com) at Park Slope outlets like Bierkraft, Grab and Bar BQ (where he tends bar), and whipping up made-to-order batches for eateries throughout the borough. “Bonnie’s has it on the tables””Pacifico, the Gowanus Yacht Club,” says Morris, 35. “Sound Fix in Williamsburg serves it as a side on every one of their sandwiches, and NoNo Kitchen uses it in their eggs and Bloody Marys. We haven’t touched anywhere outside of Brooklyn.” On Sun 30, Morris shows city slickers how to conjure a peppery potion of their own at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Chile Pepper Fiesta.
How did you go from fleeing the Lone Star state to setting tongues afire””and a-waggin'””in New York in less than a year?
It started with last year’s Fiesta. I saw all these great peppers””Thai chilies, jalapeÃ±os, serranos, habaneros. I bought several bags, took them back to Bar BQ that day and made a hot sauce. Then I just started experimenting. I’d smoke all the ingredients for an hour before blending them into the sauce. I couldn’t keep it on the table. Now I’ve got about 20 different styles of hot sauces, but only Exhaust is available commercially.
So this year’s festival is kind of your victory lap. What do you have planned?
We’re going to have a booth and walk people through how to make their own hot sauce. We’re also going to do chocolate-covered Indian chilies, the little green ones. You can eat one raw, but it’s really spicy””not for the faint of heart. We’re definitely going to have to put a disclaimer on that.
You don’t think New Yorkers can take the heat?
I’ve found that a lot of New Yorkers don’t really like their food as spicy as they say they do. But the people that do like it spicy up here, you know, it’s like, “Just burn my face off.”
What’s the process for getting your hot sauce to store shelves””are you making this stuff in your kitchen?
I make the custom sauces in-house, but Exhaust is made by a guy up in Vermont because we don’t have a USDA-approved facility here. Down the line, we want to have a little warehouse in Brooklyn where we facilitate our own sauces and recipes. Like what Rick’s Picks does, using great local products. We should be able to do that within a year or two.
Your partner, Campbell Rankin, is from Albany. Does pairing with a Yankee dilute your hot-sauce cred?
That’s the irony””I’m from Texas and I’m making hot sauce in Brooklyn. But hot-sauce snobs, if you want to use that word, just like things that are hot. They don’t care where you’re from.
The Chile Pepper Fiesta runs noon”“6pm on Sun 30 at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.