Hot sauce is a staple on the Cuban table and Michael Diaz's family is no exception to that rule. His grandfather, who recently passed away, left behind a hot sauce legacy. What he didn't leave behind? The recipe. That prompted Diaz to hit the kitchen with hopes of recreating it.
"One day I mixed sriracha with mojo and had it with pork. After that, I decided to ferment chili to make my own sriracha and throw in the ingredients of mojo-like sour orange, cumin and garlic. After trial and error, I fermented them together for a sauce that is a little thinner so you definitely taste the mojo flavor without it being overpowering," said Diaz. Thus, Cuban Sriracha was born.
An engineer by trade, he's no trained chef. But he likes to experiment. While Cuban sriracha was meant for family and friends, he was encouraged to start selling his unique creation to the masses. That's when Kickstarter came into play and PepperJelly Co. was born. After failing twice before he succeeded on the popular crowd-funding website, he's now back for a fourth campaign with hopes of selling more products and boosting production.
"We used our first Kickstarter to open the company and begin using shared commercial facilities since we have to have a commercial kitchen for the pepper sauce I make. Depending on how much we get kickstarted, next year we hope to get our own manufacturing facilities."
Launched last Monday, the campaign aims to reach a $5,000 goal in 60 days. Backers can pledge $5 to $500 or more with incentives at every level. While fans know Diaz for his Cuban Sriracha (that even earned him a spot on Andrew Zimmern's Appetite for Life), he has also created six new products: Cuban Sriracha ketchup, Cuban Sriracha beef jerky, Cuban Missile Crisis Jelly, Cuban Missile Crisis Jam, El Spicy Mangito Jam and Cuban Sriracha "Sweet."
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"Every product I make is dedicated to somebody. My wife is Russian and I'm Cuban American. Using influences and products from her culture, I made Cuban Missile Crisis Jelly and Jam. The Mangito Jam is for my 8-month old son and the jerky is for myself."
All ingredients are local, with the exception of the Black Russian currants that make up the jelly and jam, and he credits Laura's Peppers and Produce for the constant pepper supply. You can find Cuban Sriracha on the menu at Crumb on Parchment and Lokal, or order bottles for home use off of his website.