When and how did the company begin?
We started by pedaling our sauces at the Portland Farmers markets in 2004.My late husband Scott Moritz was the founder and creative genius behind the product He started making hot sauce when he was a kid in California and surfing in Mexico. So we are actually pretty old!
Were you always based in Portland?
Yes and always will be
Was it friends and family that persuaded the sauce to be released commercially? The flavor balance is fantastic, I am sure there were lots of rough drafts.
Scott had been a cook since 13. He was one of the original owners of Salvador Molly’s. His love of heat and flavor was always his inspiration.
Where do the peppers and ingredients come from? Do you have a large manufacturing facility here in Portland, or does it get made somewhere else?
Our Co-packer, the plant where it is made is in Gervais Oregon. They are a small family owned company. It is important for us to stay local, providing employment and revenue to Oregon. Our ingredients come from all over. We try to buy local whenever possible. You can’t believe how hard it is to get a contract for carrots, tomatoes and onions locally! With increased volumes we find we have to go south to California for much of the produce.
How much has your company grown? It seems like these days, you see Aardvark in many restaurants. At what grocery stores can we find it?
You can find us in New Seasons, most Market of Choice, one Fred Meyer, several independent co-ops and smaller store, a few Thriftway’s and all the whole foods in Washington and Oregon
What is your favorite thing to put the sauce on? Do you get tired of the sauce? I imagine you could eat it all the time, if you wanted.
I have been eating the habanero and drunken garlic black bean since 2002 when Scott first started making them. I never get tired of them. The drunken Jerk we put out a few months before he passed away and it is always a surprise how much I love it. I use the habanero on everything. My favorite thing to put it on? eggs, potatoes, pizza, well everything. The Black bean I use on stir-fry and in burgers always! Also on Salmon for the grill. The Jerk, holy cow, I think it is hotter than the others and I love it as a marinade on any kind of chick or pork and I make an awesome chili with it!
What’s up with the Aardvark name? That’s an obscure animal. Have you seen one in the wild in Africa? I bet your sauce would make even ants and termites (the aardvark’s main diet) taste real good.
Long story short, it was the name of the “gang” that a bunch of smart ass kids in Delmar CA gave themselves in the 80′s! Scott was the tall one with a 12 inch yellow Mohawk. He knew he always wanted to use the name in a business.
Have you seen anyone drink a whole bottle straight? (hmmmm damn good idea for a YouTube video!)
Scott was also a musician and they did this crazy competition at a show where the person who drank the most aardvark shots and ate the most habanero won a prize box. The winner was a friend of ours and I know for a fact that he felt the effects for several days!
What is your opinion that hot sauces ruin your palette? I find that when I don’t use hot sauces for awhile, I can taste my food better. But I love the sauces so much, I must be addicted, I can’t stop.
I sometimes take a break too but never for more than a day or two. I like my food with some heat…Thai, African, Mexican , Indian. Vietnamese, Cajun all need some heat in my opinion. It is a part of the complexity of the food. I don’t know how eating hot sauce is different from eating spicy foods. And all those fabulous food cultures can’t be wrong so I like my food with heat and I like hot sauce! What we try to do with aardvark, all three of them, is make it food not just a condiment. You should want to eat it not just drip or splash it on.
Have you ever mixed ketchup and Aardvark together? It is delicious. Do you have any new flavor ideas in the works?
Ketchup and aardvark perfect for fries, mayo and aardvark a must on sandwiches, most commercially bottle BBQ sauce and aardvark makes it palatable… should I go on?
What is your favorite hot sauce besides Aardvark?
On certain things I like Rooster or sweet chili sauce. An wasabi! What an underused flavor. Frankly If I want another sauce I will make my own. Right now I am enjoying Serrano’s and am playing with a couple of Serrano based table sauces.