Even in a city that's hotter than Hades year-round, gazpacho still isn't something you see every day. The cold, tomato-based soup is a standby on menus in Spain, but Miami? Not so much.
Austin Allan, founder of Tio Gazpacho, is rapidly changing all that.
His three varieties of gazpacho -- all saucy twists on the traditional tomato -- are taking the city by storm, flying off the shelves at Milam's Market, Ten Fruits, Whole Foods, and other local retailers. But this is just the beginning for Allan and team. He's hoping to make gazpacho as ubiquitous as hummus. And why not?
Allan lived in Spain for many years, where gazpacho is a popular snack.
"You can go to the grocery store and buy it there in different formats and different flavors, and I thought it would be a really great product in the U.S.," he explains.
"About two years ago I got sick of my job and I decided I want to do something really different that I felt passionate about and I had this wacky idea for starting a gazpacho company."
In January of 2013 he started the business, using downtown's Ten Fruit's kitchen to whip up recipes in off-hours They began selling the product at farmer's markets and went through several different incarnations of packaging.
"Once I saw that it was a viable business around November of last year, I decided to just go for it. I spent all year getting organic certified, getting HPP technology in place, which extends the shelf life without using heat, and the new packaging. So now we launched all three of those things in September, and the response has been overwhelming," Allan says.
The gazpacho comes in three flavors thus far: gazpacho clásico (vine-ripened tomato, green pepper, and cucumber), gazpacho verde (kale, spinach, avocado, and mint) and gazpacho de sol (yellow tomato, yellow pepper, and carrot). The soups are organic, vegetarian, and vegan; gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and free from chemicals, preservatives, colors, flavors, and additives.
They're in 20 stores so far, and that number is rapidly rising.
Allan sees Tio as the perfect healthy alternative to sugar-laden snacks.
"There are a lot of cold-pressed juices on the market, and they're delicious and they're really nutritious, but they're very heavy in sugar. If somebody wants something that's not sweet, that's savory and lower in sugar, it's an awesome light lunch or healthy snack on the go."
"I was really inspired by hummus, because hummus, ten years ago, was like a specialty ethnic product, and then all of a sudden Sabre came along and made a whole product line and I thought, ok that's really interesting, I can probably do the same thing with gazpacho."
Putting a twist on something traditional is the American way, after all.
"That's what we do in the United States," says Allan.
Tio was a sponsor of last weekend's Seed Food & Wine Festival, and Sunday's Beachside Brunch featured a Todd Erickson-created bloody mary -- with gazpacho as a main ingredient. It was spicy, flavorful, and super delicious.
Clearly, gazpacho is more utilitarian than we may have thought.
To reach Tio Gazpacho, call 305-395-8130 or email [email protected].