In our first Meet the Makers story, we had a chance to meet with Kevin and Mary Ann Mackey of Angry Irishman.
Angry Irishman started when Kevin was looking to fill time during the day after a move from Northwest Ohio to Southwest Florida. He took advantage of the sub-tropical climate and started growing hot peppers. The hot temperatures and extreme humidity are perfect for growing hot peppers.
A few years later, a friend challenged him to a competition – who could make the hottest salsa. After a few months of testing each other’s limits, they called it a ‘tie’ and Kevin realized that spicy food was his passion.
While at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo, we had an opportunity to chat with Kevin to talk about how it all started, the first sale, his favorite hot sauce, and much more.
Julie: What inspired you to start making hot sauce?
Kevin: Actually, I wanted to go into culinary arts and I never got the chance to do that, so I parlayed my love of food and flavor into my hot sauces. I try to keep them very healthy, but also having a good flavor and sometimes an above average heat level.
Julie: Do you still remember your first sale?
Kevin: I do! I was in a Catholic church out in Englewood, Florida. And, it was back when I was making little eight ounce quilted canning jars. It took me forever to make the stuff. I remember the first lady who bought it. She thought it was salsa and I told her it was hot sauce. I thought we needed an ambulance for her, but she actually came back and bought a bottle. So yeah, it very much stood out.
Julie: Is your first sauce still part of your lineup today?
Kevin: Yes, it actually is. It's our original hot sauce. It's the fresh habanero, fresh jalapeno, tomato-based sauce. It's very low in sodium and we don't put a lot of vinegar in it, so it's a very, very flavorful with a little bit above average heat.
Julie: So what are some of your favorite flavor profiles to work with? A lot of these guys are starting to really use a lot of beer or fruit or things like that in their sauces. Do you like any of that?
Kevin: To say one favorite, it really depends on what you're using it for. Like the barbecue sauce, it does have some beer in it. I know there's a beer and Irish joke somewhere there, but we haven't quite pieced it together yet. But the hot sauce goes good on a lot of things. We have a Chipotle sauce that goes great with pizza. You can use it on tacos. You can use it in place of taco seasoning, actually, because it is so low in sodium but it has a lot of flavor to it. It just depends. We do have a fruit-based sauce. We have a pineapple habanero sauce we're coming out with. Hopefully, by this time next year, we'll have it, and that will just add another dimension of flavor profile to our lineup.
Julie: What is your most popular product?
Kevin: The Original Hot Sauce is our most popular product.
Julie: Where does the name Angry Irishman come from?
Kevin: My heritage, as I am 95% Irish, 5% Scottish, and surprising, I know this
may shock you, I can get angry! LOL!
Julie: Where do we source our ingredients:
Kevin: We try to source everything as local as we can. We do grow our own
peppers for our Why? Sauce.
Julie: And now my favorite question: If you could only have one hot sauce for the rest of your life, just one. Doesn't have to be yours, can be if you want. What would it be?
Kevin: Wow, if I could only have one ... Actually, if I could only have one sauce, I would mix my original hot sauce and my Chipotle sauce together, that way I could have the best of both worlds.