BY NATE MARTINS – San Diego Magazine – March 25, 2013
A little more on Chíngón Hot Sauce, which we featured in the mag proper this month because, well, we have more space on the internets.
Like all the worthy slang, chíngón can’t really be translated to English. Owner and creator Clyde Van Arsdall is OK with the loose translation of “badass.” Van Arsdall has spent 20 years as a chef (most recently exec for K’nB Wine Cellars), the last 10 as owner of 3 Squares Gourmet. While attending culinary school in Baltimore, Van Arsdall entered a hot sauce competition that spawned Chíngón’s “Stupid Hot” (then called Orange Crush). The Scoville-topping sauce didn’t fully materialize until 20 years later in the kitchen at K’nB. They’ve now got sous chef Josh Boccaccio and intern Allen Barrett pumping the stuff out in a lab near the Earth’s molten core.
Chíngón has three levels of heat: Big Rojo (mildest, made with Red Fresno pepper), Maquina Verde (medium, with jalapeño) and Stupid Hot (uh, stupid hot, with habañero). How do local startups succeed in the crowded hot sauce space? Via the “geurilla drop,” which Van Arsdall describes as “just eating somewhere and leaving our sauce behind.” The setting has got to be right, but the tactic got them into Carnitas’ Snack Shack; Chef Hanis called and ordered three days later. Now, Chíngón is served at 3 Squares Gourmet, Windmill Farms and on tables (for use and sale) at Carnitas’ Snack Shack, K’nB, Bistro Sixty and Churchill’s Pub and Grille in San Marcos.
Their battle cry? Burn Local. “Is it really necessary to ship hot sauce half way across the country or even from LA for that matter?” asks Van Arsdall.