The thought of chili-pepper-infused honey drizzled on top of a sizzling cheese-and-tomato pizza might sound bizarre. But if the honey is by Mike Kurtz and the pizza is from Paulie Gee’s, it's a different story.
Mike’s Hot Honey, a sweet and spicy condiment created by Kurtz, is now available across South Florida in the deli department of Publix stores. Kurtz's outlandish sauce will also be available at the Miami outpost of Brooklyn pizzeria Paulie Gee's, which is slated to open in the MiMo District this month. New Times first reported its expansion more than a year ago, but construction and permitting delayed its official opening, which was originally set for September 2015.
Kurtz's hot honey can be smeared onto a variety of foods, from fried chicken to pizza. Considered a multipurpose condiment, the pure honey's sweetness fused with the heat of a chili pepper creates a candied, smoky taste.
"It's a combination that most folks have never experienced," Kurtz says, "and is popular both because of its unique flavor and its versatility and ability to pair well with a wide variety of foods."
Though the concept sounds eccentric, Kurtz explains that making the honey is simpler than its striking taste. Each batch of honey, which is all-natural and contains no additives, uses honey, chili peppers, and a touch of vinegar. Once blended, the ingredients create Kurtz's signature flavor.
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Kurtz conceived the condiment in 2003, when he was traveling in Brazil and became inspired by a smattering of jars scattered across tables in local pizzeria shops. The small, clear glasses held spoonfuls of sweet honey blended with whole chili peppers. When he returned home, he began tinkering with chili-and-honey infusions until he found the perfect balance of sweet and hot.
At the time, Kurtz worked for Paul Giannone, founder of New York pizzeria Paulie Gee’s, who insisted Kurtz supply his hot honey for Paulie Gee's signature pies. The pairing created the "Hellboy," a spicy soppressata pizza drizzled with Mike’s Hot Honey, which will be available at Paulie Gee's Miami location. Bottles of Kurtz's honey will be available for purchase too.
"They will be drizzling Mike's Hot Honey on their pizzas and exposing a whole new market to our product," Kurtz says. "We believe Floridians will really enjoy the sweet heat that it delivers to any meal and hope to build off of the momentum of the opening of Paulie Gee's pizzeria."