Meet Your Maker #17 – Liz Bratton of Lizard’s on the Bayou
The HSB first met Liz at Zest Fest 2006, where several HSBers let me know just how good her hot sauces were. So as we begin to put together our features on the manufacturers we met and partied with at Zest Fest, Liz is the first to step up to the plate. Vic has also provided a review of the Lizard Spit Hot Sauce to go with Liz’s interview. Enjoy!
1. Why hot sauce? Where did the idea come from for you to get involved doing this?
We grow peppers in pots on our deck. One year they produced like mad! We had so many bags in our freezer, it was ridiculous. On a dreary morning I decided to try my hand at making a hot sauce. So we cut and measured and blended and cooked until I used them up. My husband tried it on some chips and he liked it. So, we brought some to our friends and they liked it. Every fall I made a new batch and I would get the empty bottles back with names on them for refilling.
2. If you had to pick a favorite sauce yours, which would it be?
It really depends on my mood and what I am eating, but I guess I would have to say the Lizard Spit. It goes well on practically everything.
3. Any new products we should be ready for from your line?
Not yet. We are only a year into this venture. We do have some ideas though.
4. Where do you see the future of hot sauce 5 years from now? 10? 20?
5 years ““ I hope to recover from the start up costs and continue to spread across the country
10 years ““ Have a couple more products available; retire from my day job
20 years ““ Spit in every pot! Lizard Spit that is.
5. What is your favorite sauce that you don’t make? Tiger Sauce, Chipotle Sauces
6. Do you eat the sauce you make? Almost every day.
7. What do you eat hot sauce on?
When I first started making it, we used it on pizza. Now I have it with eggs, mixed in ketchup, raw oysters, tomato soup, chili, sandwiches, hotdogs. We try it on almost everything, I even sautÃ© with it.
8. What sets you aside from the other hot sauce producers out there today?
That’s tough, because there are so many really good sauces. But I think the flavor of my sauces are really unique in that it’s the flavor you experience first, and then heat but the heat doesn’t overpower what it’s being used on.
9. What is your inspiration before you embark on a new concoction?
When I taste something that seems like it’s lacking. I try to figure out what would make it better, then experiment until I find it.
Lizard Spit & Gila Venom
10. Outside of creating hot products, what else keeps you occupied or out of trouble?
I go to the gym, the beach, house projects and, oh yeah, my day job.
11. Any weird stories or uses for your hot sauce that you would like to share?
We were at a dinner party where we grilled steaks. I watched a guy smother his steak with Lizard Spit, and I mean smother! I said “What are you doing, that’s pretty hot.” He replied ” its what I like.” So we watched him eat it, every bite. He broke out in a sweat, but he was happy!
12. How much sauce do you make in a week?
When I made it at home, I used to make a HUGE batch once a year. But now, I have a co-packer in Winter Springs FL. They make by the vat full.
13. How many different recipes do you go through when developing a new sauce?
I probably tried three times until I found the combination that passed the taste test of my toughest critic. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to be like, so the trick was getting the proper ratios.
14. How did you get started in the industry?
After years of encouragement from my friend; then doing internet research on bottling.
15. What is your biggest challenge so far?
Marketing! Having a full time job makes it harder to get out and promote products. The food shows help. The people are great. They are full of helpful advice, tips, and valuable “lessons learned” tales.
16. What is the most common question you get?
“How’d you come up with the name Lizard Spit?”
17. What do you want to know from the readers of the HSB?
Anything, everything that they can advise us on how to getting Lizard’s on the Bayou out there!
18. What’s a typical day for you?
I get up early, get to work around 6:30a; leave the office just after 4:00p; go to the gym home between 6:30 and 7:00; cook dinner (most of the time), clean the kitchen; chill with a glass of Merlot and in bed by 10:30.
19. Worst burn ever?
MY HAND! I was stemming and seeding peppers for the annual sauce production in the kitchen. By the time I was done, my left hand was on fire! Nothing helped. I tried Aloe, solarcane, baking soda paste, and aspirin. All I could do was keep my hand in a bowl of ice water for about 3-4hrs.
That was the worst!!!
20. Best burn ever?
Every time I use fresh peppers from our plants to cook. Whether it’s a stir fry, or chili, whatever, it’s very satisfying
Lizard’s on the Bayou
P.O. Box 1705
Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32549