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Posted October 23, 2006 by Anthony in Makers
 
 

Meet Your Maker #17 – Sean Carlin & Fired Up Foods


Sean Carlin and Fire Up Foods have been quietly heating up the markets around here. Based in Brantford Ontario he has been creating some of the best jerky, Chip Nuts, and spicy chocolate you have ever tried. Next time you have a party, give his round of products a try. He has enough range of heat and variety of products to keep everyone in a comfortable realm of heat. Drop by his website www.firedupfoods.com and if there is anything you like, tell him the HSB sent you. 20% off if you mention the HSB sent you when ordering & 25% off if you order 12 items or more.

Sean Carlin

1. Why hot foods? Where did the idea come from to get involved doing this?
I think I can safely say that just about everybody who does this (fiery foods), does so because they are passionate about it. Nobody looking to get into a new entrepreneurial venture or business decides to get into this unless they’re fanatical about chiles, spices, and good food in general. Plus………it’s just a cool thing to do. Even people who aren’t really into hot & spicy think it’s neat.

The idea came, early in my hot sauce experience, when I was trying to source out a supply of “Ring of Fire” – Xtra Hot Habanero Sauce (Mike & Diane’s Gourmet Kitchen Inc.).
When I couldn’t find a retail place to buy it (this was 1999), I called the telephone number on the bottle. The person that I was talking to (from M & D’s) was so into her product and enthusiastic that she actually suggested that if there were no retailers in my area that sold hot sauces, Ring of Fire specifically, I should consider starting something myself.

BANG!!! It was like this huge wakeup call. The proverbial “light bulb” went on. This was the adventure, the challenge, I was looking for. From there I started researching the business/industry; shortly there after I booked a flight and ticket for the 2000 Fiery Foods Show in Reno Nevada (usually held in Albuquerque, NM). From there it just snowballed. Fast forward to 2006…………………….and here we are.

2. If you had to pick a favorite product of yours, which would it be?
My favorite product, without a doubt, would be our “Fired Up ChipNuts”. That’s my baby, my brainchild, my “piece de resistance” (the outstanding item, the prize piece or main item, in a collection). There’s nothing like them – anywhere! They are totally unique and outrageously addictive. We take roasted jumbo cocktail peanuts, cover them in a “potato chip” like coating, and then season them in 3 outrageous flavors (Chipotle, Tabasco, and Habanero Chile flavors).

3. Any new products we should be ready for from your line?
Yes & No. We are working on bringing out a new size and new packaging for our existing “Fired Up ChipNuts”. This will be 3oz. foil bag with completely new images and label design.
The MRSP (retail price) will be somewhere between $1.69 and $1.99; a perfect “grab & go” fiery snack, well suited for vending machines, variety stores and gas bar kiosks.

4. Where do you see the future of hot sauce in Canada 5 years from now?
I know most people will expect me to say that the hot sauce industry (in Canada) will be bigger and better. That it will offer more quality options as far as products go and there will be more specialty retail stores. Sadly – I am predicting there will be more retail options (stores) carrying sauces but not quality items. I predict that the really good specialty stores will struggle as larger operations pick up and distribute cheaper varieties. The general public (not the fanatics, the enthusiasts, not the people who would read this article) will gravitate to these less expensive items. I think in general the sauce market will be larger (in overall sales) but it will adversely affect the quality manufacturers and specialty retailers.

5. What is your favorite food that you don’t make?
If you’re asking me about other manufacturers’ products I will say there are lots of products that I like. Let’s face it there are a lot of talented chileheads out there.
My 3 all time favorite sauces (not my own) are:
#1 The one that started this whole thing for me …..”Ring of Fire – Xtra Hot Habanero Sauce” (Mike & Diane’s Gourmet Kitchen Inc.).
#2 “CaJohns – Serrano Lime Sauce”. John Hard’s company is as dedicated to quality as any I’ve ever known. This sauce is always in my fridge (usually near empty).
#3 “Gecko Gary’s – Original Roasted Red Pepper Sauce”. I’d want this sauce if I were stranded on an island, or if I were goin’ away for some prison time (no plans to though).

6. Do you eat the foods you make?
Hell – I’m my own best customer. I can’t be reasonably expected to sell or promote items I don’t believe in or have expert knowledge of. However, some think I must eat the snack items all the time, which isn’t true. No matter how good an item is, when you are around it all the time it isn’t always the first item you crave. Don’t get me wrong – our house usually has a jar or two of the Chipotle or Habanero Chipnuts on the go. I almost always have some “Mad Cow Jerky” in my vehicle or work bag (always handy, always tasty).

7. What’s a typical day for you?

I lead a very busy life working full time as a Paramedic. It’s a rewarding and interesting job but not something I believe I can retire in. It’s just too difficult, too hard physically, mentally, and sometime spiritually. I’m an “A type” personality, an entrepreneur, and close to being a workaholic. As for the business of “Fired Up Foods” – we don’t manufacture every day; we go in spurts. We make a certain item in quantities large enough for a given period of time, then move on to the next item required. If we get caught up on things, I could be doing just about anything. I wear just about every hat in the company – R&D (research & development), marketing, sales, book & records keeping, inventory control, shipping, and many other things.

8. Best and worst burns ever?

Best burn ever – at the “2000 Fiery Foods Show”. I was at a booth that was sampling sauces in those plastic squeeze bottles, the kind you’d find condiments in at a hot dog cart or at the ball park.
I pick up a corn tortilla chip, something I almost never do when sampling sauces (I usually try them on the back of my hand or on one of those tiny plastic spoons), I tilt the large plastic bottle upside down and the sauce comes down like an avalanche. It pours out the opening (cut way too large) and goes all over the chip. The booth was decorated up with all kinds of nice paraphernalia appropriate to a hot sauce/spicy foods show and had a really nice chile pepper print table cloth under the sauces. In a fraction of a second, I realized the sauce was about to spill over the edge of the chip and fall onto the table cloth. I shoved the chip into my mouth without thinking. The burn, the pain, was so unexpected. The guy behind the table (who witnessed the entire thing) is standing there with his eyes bulging out and he starts laughing hysterically because he can’t believe what he has just witnessed as I’m standing there dying. I had to run to the closest concession booth to get some milk, then back again for more, then back again for some water. Granted – I’d been sampling sauces all day but I was always prepared for the heat I was about to experience. I would portion the size of the sample to the appropriate and expected heat level. This sauce, “Krakatoa”, was completely unexpected. I had a total meltdown.

Worst burn ever – I’m standing in the production kitchen at CaJohn’s Fiery Foods. Beside me are John Hard (CaJohns) and Wendell Peter’s (Judicial Flavors). I don’t speak for the other guys, but I’m supremely hung over from the night before when the three of us went out drinking – really, really late. So”¦”¦”¦”¦. Wendell brews up a pot of this wonderful coffee that he markets called “Legal Rush” and then decides it would be a neat little experiment to steep a few Habanero pepper pods in the coffee, just to see if it might be a good recipe. You know, something he could use to promote and market this great coffee. He then proceeds to utilize us as guinea pigs. Suffice to say that we poured the pot down the drain, but not before poring a cup or two for Mark (production) and Nate. The only thing that improves a nasty burn is turning around and burning someone else the same way – unexpectedly.

9. What sets you aside from the other hot food makers, and their products, out there today?
Well – I’d say our Canadian roots make us at least somewhat unique. I mean – there still aren’t a great number of manufacturers, specifically Canadian one’s that is. The other thing that makes us unique is that we now spend our time, efforts and monies marketing to Canadians & Canadian companies. We certainly don’t turn down any US orders and we love the positive feedback from our US friends, but we no longer chase the market there. It’s just too competitive, too difficult for a small producer with exchange rates, tariff penalties, customs & brokerage fees, trucking & fuel surcharges etc.
We find that our efforts are rewarded by focusing here at home.

10. What is your inspiration before you embark on a new concoction?
When I get the general idea of what it is I want to create I attempt to source out the best ingredients. If I can’t find them I will delay the project until such time as I can do it properly. I may need to source out the ingredients from several sources. Often the best ingredients are more expensive but once you’ve found the best, it’s hard (near impossible for me) to compromise just to save a buck.
We do everything possible to acquire the necessary items, like buying larger quantities to ensure a lower price and to guarantee consistency. If we are able to produce the product cost effectively we will. If not – we shelve the idea until such time as the conditions are right and we are able to do so without compromise. We do not compromise on quality.

11. Outside of creating hot products, what else keeps you occupied or out of trouble?
What makes you think I stay out of trouble? (Just kidding) Well – when you have a full time career, a wife who has a successful career, two little girls (3 & 5 years old), a dog (a boxer – what a loveable meathead), a property & house to maintain AND a business like “Fired Up Foods”, you don’t have a lot of time to do much else – let alone get into “trouble”.

12. Any weird stories or uses for your hot sauces that you would like to share?
We did have one customer who called us to say how much she loved our Fired Up ChipNuts, and that she was losing weight eating them. Yes! I said she claimed to be losing weight eating our ChipNuts. I asked – how so? She told me that she loved them so much that she would choose them as her snack (over more traditional snacks). Traditionally she would consume the entire package of most other items but because of the extreme heat of our product, she would only consume a small handful. This satisfied her snack craving. I said wow, that’s a great story but that I didn’t think I could use her claim to promote ChipNuts, but if it worked for her – great!

13. How much (hot food) do you make in a week?
Our actual weekly production varies depending on many factors. Best case scenario, we are capable of putting out 400 cases a week (8-10hrs. per day, x 5 days per week).

Now onto the Fire Up Food Reviews

All these products are available at www.firedupfoods.com or at Taste the 4th Sense.

Fired Up Foods

Mad Cow Beef XXX Jerky Review and Mad Cow Jerky Smoking Review
Mad Cow Beef Jerky

Best Jerky I have tried. For both flavors! From the presentation, to the aroma, to the texture, to the taste, to the burn. This is the stuff! If there was only one negative thing I could say about this product is that it doesn’t come in 1 Kilo bags (2.2lbs for you Yanks).

My neighbors’ dog actually snagged a piece (of the XXX) that was left on the coffee table. He came back in to see the Chihuahua running around the condo with eyes streaming tears.

Mad Cow Beef XXX Jerky Review

Mad Cow Beef Jerky

Packaging 9.5/10 ““ If you are aware of the Mad Cow scare awhile back you will find the humor in this. From a design point of view it very well done as well.
Aroma 10/10 – Smells just like smoked spicy steak – prepare to start drooling
Appearance 10/10 ““ Just fabulous ““ you can see the spices in the meat
Taste 10/10 ““ Perfect texture and perfect give of the meat once you gnaw down. Taste is strong and filling. Can’t get enough
Texture 8/10 – Could be a little thicker ““ perfect give on any given bite
Heat 7/10 ““ pleasant burn that builds slowly to a steady crescendo just shy of blistering

Overall 9.8/10

Mad Cow Beef Jerky – Smoking

Packaging 9.5/10 ““ If you are aware of the Mad Cow scare awhile back you will find the humor in this. From a design point of view it very well done as well.
Aroma 10/10 – Grab a napkin
Appearance 10/10 ““ Just fabulous ““ you can see the spices in the meat
Taste 10/10 ““ a myriad of flavors brought together that will give a “Cheers” in your mouth
Texture 8/10 ““ could be a little thicker ““ perfect give on any bite
Heat 4/10 ““ Slightly spicy ““ like that just toasty feeling you find all comfy in the blankets at 7:00am

Overall – 9.8/10

Fired Up-Chipnuts Review
Fired Up Chip Nuts

If you aren’t familiar with chipnut’s well they are peanuts coated in a potato shell. They aren’t exactly the best snack for you in terms of nutrition but damn do they ever make a great snack. Fired Up Foods has taken an amazing step forward with these Chipnuts. They are bold and crunchy and each flavor packs a wallop of taste. If you like your snacks salty and spicy give these a try!

Tabasco Chiles

Yes they are flavored with Tabasco Chiles. There is no affiliation with sauce maker of the same name.

Ingredients: Peanuts, Dehydrated Potato, Modified Potato Starch, Rice Flour, Maltodextrin, Modified Corn Starch, Tapioca Dextrin, Corn Starch, Peanut Oil, Tabasco Chile Powder, Salt, Dextrose, Spice, Dried Yeast, Onion Powder, Autolyzed Yeast, Natural Flavor, Soy Sauce, Corn Gluten, Wheat Gluten, Garlic Powder

Packaging 9.5/10 ““ Very nice packaging
Aroma 9/10 – invigorating
Appearance 9/10 – it’s as good as a Chipnut will get
Taste 9/10 ““ Perfect Crunch ““ Perfect chili taste
Heat 3/10 ““ Slightly spicy ““ just right for any chili-head

Overall – 9/10

Chipotle Smoke Jalapeno Chiles

Ingredients: Peanuts, Dehydrated Potato, Modified Potato Starch, Rice Flour, Maltodextrin, Modified Corn Starch, Tapioca Dextrin, Corn Starch, Peanut Oil, Chipotle Chile Powder, Salt, Dextrose, Spice, Dried Yeast, Onion Powder, Autolyzed Yeast, Natural Flavor, Soy Sauce, Corn Gluten, Wheat Gluten, Garlic Powder

Packaging 9.5/10 ““ Very nice packaging
Aroma 9/10 – Smoky and pleasant
Appearance 9/10 ““ it’s as good as a Chipnut will get
Taste 9.5/10 ““ addictive chipotle flavor
Heat 5/10 ““ A nice tinge of heat that will make any enthusiastic snacker happy

Overall 9.5/10


Red Savina Chipnuts

Ingredients: Peanuts, Dehydrated Potato, Modified Potato Starch, Rice Flour, Maltodextrin, Modified Corn Starch, Tapioca Dextrin, Corn Starch, Peanut Oil, Habanero Chile Powder, Salt, Dextrose, Spice, Dried Yeast, Onion Powder, Autolyzed Yeast, Natural Flavor, Soy Sauce, Corn Gluten, Wheat Gluten, Garlic Powder

Packaging 9.5/10 ““ Very nice packaging
Aroma 9/10 – Spicy goodness
Appearance 9/10 ““ it’s as good as a Chipnut will get
Taste 9/10 ““ a full blast of Red Savina flavor ““ my favorite of the bunch
Heat 9/10 ““ These pack a lot of heat!

Overall 9.5/10

Red Savina Peanuts

These peanuts are a happy medium. They offer enough heat to carry a good burn but they are not as powerful as Acid Rain Nuts. You can snack on them leisurely but be careful”¦.they are quite hot.

Ingredients: Peanuts, Peanut Oil, Habanero Chile Powder, Salt, Dextrose, Spice, Yeast, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Autolyzed Yeast, Soy Sauce, Maltodextrin, Corn Gluten, Wheat Gluten

Packaging 9.5/10 ““ Very nice packaging
Aroma 9/10 – Sharp and to the point
Appearance 9/10 ““ They are peanuts
Taste 9/10 ““ superb ““ a good dose of Red Savina powder and fresh crunchy peanuts
Heat 9/10 ““ These pack a lot of heat!

Overall 9.5/10


Fired Up Hot & Spicy Gourmet Chocolates

Fired Up Hot & Spicy Gourmet Chocolates

If you are familiar with the Belgian chocolates produced by Guylian then that will make a good starting point. These are extremely well crafted chocolates that could easily hold their own. Add some heat to them and well”¦”¦ These are not Pot of Gold chocolates or your drugstore Easter special on Russell Stover either. With the added heat of peppers sans the pepper taste you are getting into a truly unique product. It is almost tough to describe and it creates an argument in your mouth that wins on both sides. The heat doesn’t hit till after the sweet chocolate has been downed. It is a 2 for 1 product. You get that chocolate fix and the addictive burn! Highly Recommended!

Ingredients: (These candies may contain some or all of the following) sugar, glucose, cocoa butter, milk ingredients, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate liquor, dextrose, corn syrup, fructose, butter, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil, coconut oil, hydrogenated coconut oil, palm kernel oil, hydrogenated palm oil, cottonseed oil, cocoa powder, peanuts, filberts, almonds, cashews, pecans, brazil nuts, peanut oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, coconut (sodium metabisulphite), rice, corn starch, corn dextrin, soy lecithin, salt, mono and diglycerides, invertase, egg albumen, wheat flour, sorbitan monstearate, glycerol lacto palmitate, glycerol lacto esters of fatty acids, natural flavor, citric acid, TBHQ, artificial colours.

Allergy Alert: Some chocolates contain nutspeanuts, all may have come into contact with nutspeanuts.

Packaging 9.5/10 ““ Very nice packaging
Aroma 9/10 – Fresh chocolate
Appearance 9/10 ““ These look great all nestled in their beds
Taste 9/10 ““ Amazing ““ high quality chocolate without a peppery taste ““ just some heat
Heat 4/10 ““ Medium heat that sneaks up on you.

Overall 9.7/10

Sean Carlin
Fired Up Foods
Business Tel. (519) 756-2778
Mobile Tel. (519) 732-1194
email: firedupfoods@rogers.com
www.firedupfoods.com
20% off if you mention the HSB sent you when ordering & 25% if you order 12 items or more.


Anthony