Dave's Insanity Hot Sauce is legendary in the world of fiery foods—even people who don't eat hot sauce have heard of his—so I was excited to get the chance to interview Dave himself, owner and creator Dave Hirschkop. Since he started in the industry over 20 years ago, his company has branched out to produce a variety of products in addition to the hot sauces that made him famous, such as pasta sauces, drink mixes, spices, flavored salts, and more. This year, he was among the first 5 individuals ever to be inducted into the first-ever Hot Sauce Hall of Fame this past weekend. I asked him about his thoughts on being nominated as well as a few other things that I was curious about.
Mary: How do you feel about being nominated for the first-ever Hot Sauce Hall of Fame? (And why are so many influential people in the fiery foods industry named Dave? Four out of the 10 nominees are named Dave/David!)
Dave: It is an honor and also exciting to be nominated for this new Hall of Flame. I definitely recognize that there are other companies that have been around longer and some have had a bigger impact, but appreciate that my small contribution is recognized. As for the Dave coincide, I don't know...Maybe we need a chilehead sociologist to study this!
Mary: Out of all of your products, which is your personal favorite?
Dave: Insanity Sauce is my sentimental favorite, but our Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce is the one that I really love and am most proud of. It won the Sofi award for best pasta sauce in the industry and has been one of our top selling items for years.
Mary: What made you decide to branch out from hot sauces and into more varieties of specialty foods?
Dave: I have always liked a huge variety of foods and followed my passions to where I thought my ideas would become products that would benefit consumers.
Mary: Which of your sauces would you recommend for someone just getting into hot sauces, and which would you recommend for a seasoned chilihead who is trying your brand for the first time?
Dave: Hurtin' Habanero Sauce is good for the newbie. It is not too hot, but has a neat spice flavor. Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce would be the one for the chilehead. I still believe that the Ghost Pepper has a better flavor than the other super hot chiles and our sauce has a great Ghost Pepper taste.
Mary: Do you have any new sauce flavors coming out soon?
Dave: We have an Organic Hearty Marinara and a Carolina Reaper Sauce both coming out soon. We will also have a number of other new products launching in the summer and fall. Our new line of cookie butters will be launching in the next few months, too.
Mary: How do you come up with new flavor profiles?
Dave: There is no secret method for creating new flavors, but it either starts with a question or observation. I see that a different culture or a restaurant or a different category uses an ingredient and think that maybe we can too. Maybe I will ask why is it always done this way or why only with a certain kind of chile or tomato. Many rules and traditions are based upon good reason and logic, but many times technology or agriculture changes or creativity changes the situation and rules and traditions are often slow to respond. I try to speed up the situation.
Dave also shared his recipe for Jamaican Jerk Chicken that incorporates his famous Insanity Sauce. I can’t wait to try it out! Thanks again, Dave, for taking the time to talk with me!
Dave's Jamaican Jerk Chicken Recipe
• 6 loin pork chops
• 3 chicken breasts, split
• 6 chicken legs (2oz.)
• whole allspice berries
• ¼ ts. Fresh grated nutmeg
• ½ ts. Ground cinnamon
• 8 scallions, chopped
• 1 lg. Clove garlic, chopped
• 1 ts. Hot pepper, chopped
• 3 T red-wine vinegar
• ¼ c peanut or vegetable oil
• ½ ts. Salt
• ¼ ts. Fresh ground pepper
• 2 bay leaves, crumbled
* For side sauce mix one to three drops of Insanity Sauce into a cup of Worcestershire sauce.
1. Cut away rind and most fat from pork; remove all meat from bones, cut into pieces about 1-1/2” thick and 3” to 4” long. Put pork pieces and chicken in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed.
2. To prepare seasoning, heat the allspice berries over medium heat in small saucepan 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often; 2 tbs. at a time, crush berries in mortar and pestle. In medium bowl, combine berries, nutmeg, cinnamon, scallions, garlic, pepper, and 1 tbs. vinegar; crush into pasty mixture. Add rest of vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Turn mixture over pork and chicken and rub meat with seasoning, coating evenly. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
3. Cook jerked pork and chicken on grill over hot coals or on gas barbecue as far from heat as possible (6” or more); cover with lid; turn meat every 10 minutes for about 1 hour, until done.
4. If desired, halfway through cooking time toss 1 tsp whole allspice berries into fire. Cut cooked pork into 1/3” slices and serve with chicken. Accompany with Insanity Worcestershire sauce. Serves 6 to 8.