The Story of Smoked Chilies From Mexico

Essential Spice goes to the origins of these food ingredients. In each case, we’ve spent years of effort on the ground with these farms, farmers, and farming co-ops. A great example of this is our chilis. We needed a really good, strong chili vendor. We worked for months/years to find a reliable and high quality vendor.

We finally booked a flight into St Luis Potosi to get people on the ground there and try to develop relationships. As soon as we got there it was clear who we needed to talk to. Everyone told us the man to speak to was The Don. We got a dinner booked with him, and had no idea what to expect. We were in our early 20s… young and inexperienced, but on a mission to find quality and uniqueness in food.

As we waited at the predetermined restaurant and time, the Don walked in a very well dressed man and looked around. After a minute or two he left. I thought I missed my chance, but couldn’t let him go. After chasing him into the street, I introduced myself and his response was “I didn’t expect a young man.” Now this was many years ago, but I was able to convince him to join us for what turned into an incredible dinner of high end food to the music of classical Mexican guitar. We convinced him of our serious intent and goals, and he invited me to his farm.

The farm was small but unbelievably efficient. He grew everything on site and pumped out tons of product through his small dehydrator. The Don introduced us to his family and it was very clear that his son being a part of the business was a huge factor for him. After getting to know the family, joining his son for a soccer match, and spending quality time with them I learned that the Don, his father, was sick. I only knew this family for days, but I had envisioned a long future working with The Don already. I was crushed.

In that moment I could see the fear and doubt in the son’s eyes. I told him we could do it. We could build a partnership, he could take on the farm that his father built and continue that growth and legacy. That was 15 years ago. The Don is obviously no longer with us, but every week a truck shows up in Atlanta, GA from that farm in St. Luis Potosi and my relationship with the son and his family is incredibly valuable to me on a personal level. I know everyone from this family now and their children know my children. The farm is run as an extension of their family and we feel like they are an extension of ours. They had never done any export operations on their own. They were selling only locally and to third parties that killed their profit margins. Our relationship gave them a much more healthy profit margin while also allowing us to provide customers with their unmatched quality at an amazing price.

This is how Essential Spice sources food and ingredients. Every product we offer is developed with that level of personal relationship and quality of product source and handling.