Posted August 14, 2006 by Nick Lindauer in Makers

Meet Your Maker #12 – Torchbearer Sauces

As seen on video, Playboy and this month’s FHM, the HSB now brings you upfront and personal with the evil geniuses behind TorchBearer Sauces.

The Guys behind Torchbearer Sauces

1. Why hot sauce? Where did the idea come from for you to get involved doing this?
Tim: The Easter Bunny told you to give me your camera!!!!
Ben: Why not is the question I have to ask? Personally, how can you not love a job where you get to hurt people and make them love you for it?
Vid: Well….for 7 years I threw Dinner parties where we cooked spicy food and everyone drank a lot. They were a lot of fun and over time Ben and my goal at them were to kill our friends who were there. Eventually we created the #7 sultry sauce and it was too good so we had to market it. Soon after other sauces were created.

2. If you had to pick a favorite sauce yours, which would it be?
Tim: Of the regular line, I’d choose #11 Sugar Fire. I think its great. I also have a nasty reaction to onions, so I can’t eat the regular stuff.
Ben: My favorite sauce that we make is the Slaughter sauce. It isn’t for wussies, and I love the heat. I also love the flavor, it is very mellow and smooth it plays well with other flavors.
Vid: Sultry, I use it almost every meal. I think it enhances just about any flavor and make dishes 100x better. The only time I don’t use it is when a recipe needs sugar fire or when I really want to hurt myself.

Ben of TorchBearer Sauces

3. Any new products we should be ready for from your line?
Ben: Yes
Vid: We have a lot of products ready to launch. We are just waiting til we have the money to launch them. We have a BBQ sauce, a mustard, a spicy mayo, black bean salsa, a ketchup, a sour cream dip, and a ranch dip all ready to go. Can’t wait to have them out in the future. We strive to make all our products the best we have ever tasted before they come out.

4. Where do you see the future of hot sauce 5 years from now? 10? 20?
Tim: I think that a lot of the excessive hot sauces that rely on shocking labels are going down. I don’t think that there is enough variety in that arena, so a lot of people are really starting to appreciate companies that try to re-think the run-of-the-mill hot sauce equation. As an industry I think it can only grow in popularity as it becomes more main stream, but the products themselves will have to change to accommodate grandma if you want her to buy it.
Ben: This business will just keep on growing for many years to come. Within 5 years, more and more sauce maker will move away from extracts, and go for the more natural sauces. Within 10 years peppers much hotter than Habs will be commercially available at supermarkets. Within 20 years, the aliens living inside our brains will take over.
Vid: I only see the industry getting bigger. With spicy food becoming more widely known as both a healthy choice to eat and a big time flavor enhance, spicy food is only becoming more and more popular.

5. What is your favorite sauce that you don’t make?
Tim: I love Sriracha for my spicy TNT rolls; hands down, the one to beat for Japanese cuisine.
Ben: I have 2 current favorite sauces. One is a local concoction called magnum. It is a sweet spicy mustard sauce that is fantastic. My other favorite is the Green Tea and Wasabi sauce from Blair’s.
Vid: Sriracha, I love this stuff. Maybe it’s because I am addicted to Sushi…but if I don’t use Tarnation in the soy sauce for sushi I put this on it. I don’t know why it is so damn good to me.

Tim of TorchBearer Sauces

6. Do you eat the sauce you make?
Tim: I eat the dessert sauce a lot. I get one made for me with no onions that is AWESOME…. And really should be available to everyone else. Cause its AWESOME!
Ben: I have to eat it everyday. I am absolutely addicted to the stuff it’s insane.
Vid: Every meal, every day, every chance I get. I pack a case of it with me when I travel just so I am sure I will have enough. My bag got checked on the way to florida and they ate half of one of my jars to test it lol.

7. What do you eat hot sauce on?
Tim: I’ll have some on a Saltine. I don’t care. Sometimes you just need a fix.
Ben: I think the shorter list is what haven’t I eaten it on.
Vid: With our sauces I use it on my eggs, in my cereal, on sushi, in a pie or ice cream. Pretty much on anything you put in front of me I am going to have our sauce in or on it.

8. What sets you aside from the other hot sauce producers out there today?
Tim: We’re just different, and by design really. We didn’t plan to be different just to be contrary, but the company was founded because we didn’t like a lot of the stuff that was available in stores.
Ben: I think our inspiration is the same as others out there, but what sets us apart is our desire to grow, and our rabid desire to see that Tabasco sauce is taken out of every restaurant in the world.
Vid: I think the main thing that sets us apart from everyone else is we don’t add water and vinegar. We think they cheapen the sauce and don’t help it to enhance flavors of food as well. So all our sauces are thicker and add a lot more than most.

9. What is your inspiration before you embark on a new concoction?
Tim: My inspiration is Jesus. Jesus and Molly Shannon.
Ben: I get my personal inspiration when I see that the market is missing something. Honestly, the market is over-run by vinegar based hot sauces. Yeah they pour well, but that is the only quality that they really have that impresses me. Way too much salt also.
Vid: It depends on what type of sauce we are going for. Sometimes we think of what type of thing we want it to be used for and what flavors will compliment the dish. Other times it’s a simple as “What tastes would make the perfect mayo?”. And sometimes it is just the idea of trying to put the people who eat it in a lot of pain for fun.

Vid of TorchBearer Sauces

10. Outside of creating hot products, what else keeps you occupied or out of trouble?
Tim: When I kick back, I like to force people to see movies they don’t want to or watch tv
Ben: My girlfriend Megan helps keep me out of trouble, as well as my hopeless addiction to the X-Box 360, I swear that thing talks to me in my sleep!
Vid: I love to kayak, but don’t get much time to do that these days. Sushi is my big love at this point. We go for sushi 2 to 3 times as week. It’s funny cause I hate sea food but I love sushi. Other than that I love the movies, watch TV and like to travel.

11. Any weird stories or uses for your hot sauce that you would like to share?
Tim: Vid uses it in pancakes. I don’t care what he says; that’s freakin’ weird.
Ben: No. J/K Actually, I think the weirdest thing I ever heard of was one of my friends likes to dip sugar cookies into #7 Sultry sauce.
Vid: Well as I said before, the sugar fire works really really well in ice cream. We have taken it to Cold Stone creamery and had them put it in their vanilla and their chocolate ice cream to see how it worked and wow did it enhance the flavors. The chocolate was the best chocolate ice cream I have ever had with the sugar fire mixed into it.

12. How much sauce do you make in a week?
Tim: Sorry, that’s classified information. No really, I don’t make it so I have no idea. I just sit around and make fun of people.
Ben: We can never make enough sauce in a week!
Vid: It all depends how much Ben can make before he drops from exhaustion.

13. How many different recipes do you go through when developing a new sauce?
Tim: When developing a new sauce, we actually go through the process really fast. The first sauce took two tries, and the rest just happened.
Ben: Most recipes I get in the first batch. The Sultry and the Sugar Fire are my two originals and they are the original recipes. Other products have taken up to 3 different recipes to get right.
Vid: Honestly, Ben and I have the same talent. We can sit and think about a recipe ahead of time and it is usually pretty close to perfect the first try, and we can tell what improvements can be made right away. So we usually get it in 1 to 3 tries. So far the Salsa was the most and it took 3 tries.

14. How did you get started in the industry?
Tim: The idea to market the sauce was Vid’s, but we really dove right into the middle of it. We’ve only been around for a little over a year, and we’ve come a long way.
Vid: Well once we decided we had to market the #7 Sultry sauce we drove to Texas and back (from PA) in 63 hours and picked up 666 pounds of Habaneros. Spent a week chopping them up and freezing them and started making sauce. It was an interesting and insane trip.

15. What is your biggest challenge so far?
Tim: The biggest challenge for me was getting on board. I quit my old job in April of last year, and even though it was a bad job I had panic attacks trying to leave it. Isn’t that stupid?
Ben: Nothing has really been a challenge for me. It just seems natural to do the things that need to be done.
Vid: The waiting is the biggest challenge for me. The three of us move pretty fast and waiting for companies to put in their order or get the stuff out on shelves I find stressful. In general though, I think the biggest challenge is getting people to understand that you can use our sauces on ANYthing not just chili or ribs. That is why we wrote 70 Recipes from Breakfast to the Bar. We thought it might help people understand the great amount of things you can use the spicy cooking sauces for.

16. What is the most common question you get?
Tim: People ask me most about heat level. I think Vid and Ben must look crazy, so people sort of check in w/ me before they try the sauce the first time.
Ben: Question number 15 is actually the most common question I get.
Vid: Is everything you have spicy? That would be what I hear most. And the answer is yes. We have people try #4 Tingly, our 2nd most mild of the line, and they think it is our hottest Sauce. Now our Sugar Fire and our Salsa and our Everyday Sauce people can usually take and love. But some people can’t take anything about the Tingly.

17. What do you want to know from the readers of the HSB?
Tim: I want them to know that I love each and everyone of them, and I want to know that they love us back.
Ben: How many of you worship the ground we walk on? Seriously, I would like any creative criticism. We probably won’t actually change the recipes, but it would be nice to know what you think of them.
Vid: What I would like to hear from the readers are suggestions on how to improve the website. I love the website, but I am always paranoid that people are having trouble putting orders through. So if anyone has any problems like that, please take the time to drop us a line so we can make things better for you.

18. What’s a typical day for you?
Tim: I pitch to a lot of people, ship, smooze, eat. We all really pretty much do the same thing. We are a young company so its not like I’m the boss of a division or something.
Ben: It involves a lot of Hot Sauce and Screaming for hours. I think I need a straight jacket! Can I borrow Dave’s? I also make a lot of phone calls, and send a lot of emails.
Vid: A lot of calls and a lot of emails, and some weeks A LOT of meetings, and a lot of shipping to customers/interested stores/media people. Then there is the travel, from New York to LA. In general I never like answering this question, cause the answer is we really don’t have a “typical day”.

19. Worst burn ever?
Tim: The guy from Blazing Steer; I remember him fondly. He gave me something at a show, and I was so excited because a lot of the hotter sauces have onions in them. It seriously felt like someone shot me in the face. I thought I was having an allergic reaction. I couldn’t feel my ears.
Ben: The worst burn ever was drinking a jar of Dave’s Insanity because I wanted to prove that it wasn’t all that. It really was not very hot, but it tore my stomach up completely.
Vid: Oook ok, this one is a bit of a long story. One of the parties we had (the parties were called Vidian cooking) I had chopped up four pounds of habaneros, we didn’t wear gloves doing this most of the years we did it. So I have habanero juice soaked into both my hands. I forgot to even wash my hands once (never mind I should have dipped my hands in bleach) before I went and took a piss. Well needless to say after I peed I came running out of the bath room with my pants around my ankles bearing all to the 15 people that were already there and yelling “give me a wad of paper towel” over and over. Then I took the paper towel opened the fridge and soaked the paper towel with whole milk and wrapped it
around my love monkey. That cut out the heat pretty much, but that is MUCH worse than getting the juice in your eye…trust me I have had the other one happen 100 times before.

Or me falling into the bon fire one time while drinking too much.

20. Best burn ever?
Tim: The best burn happened from our stuff, of course. What?
Ben: The best burn I have ever had? That would be the time before the business got started and Vid and me were eating jars of the sauces at my kitchen table and we were being seriously burned by the #7 sauce!!! We went through tons of crackers!!!
Vid: See answer 19 above 🙂

TorchBearer Sauces

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog