David Tran of Huy Fong Sriracha Interview: Spicy Spotlight

David Tran of Huy Fong Sriracha Interview: Spicy Spotlight

Posted by Mary P on Apr 7th 2016

There’s no denying that Sriracha has invaded both popular culture as well as the world of hot sauce over the past decade. Although you can find many brands of Sriracha out there today, the one that started it all is Huy Fong, the company founded by David Tran in the 1980s. I was excited to get the opportunity to interview David for this blog. Although he’s started doing more interviews over the past few years, he hasn’t done a ton of them, so I thought it was cool that he was willing to answer a few of my questions.

The History Behind Sriracha Hot Sauce

In case you don’t already know the backstory behind Huy Fong Foods and their iconic Sriracha sauce, it goes back to Vietnam in 1975 when David Tran began making hot sauce. He sold his sauces in recycled glass baby food jars and delivered them via bicycle. In 1979, he left Vietnam on a freighter named “Huey Fong,” which later inspired his company name “Huy Fong Foods.” After he reached the United States in 1980, he started making his hot sauce near Chinatown in Los Angeles. Sales took off and continued to climb, causing Sriracha to become the historic sauce that it is today. The sauce name “Sriracha” comes from a town in Thailand called Si Racha, and the rooster on the logo is because David was born in the Year of the Rooster. Back in the 1980s, David even hand-painted his logos onto the side of his Chevy delivery van himself.

Mary: What's your favorite type of cuisine and favorite meal to cook? Do you ever watch cooking shows?

David: I enjoy all type of foods – from Chinese, American to even, Indian, and Mexican. I rarely cook. My wife is a better cook. Yes, I sometimes watch cooking shows.

Mary: What's your favorite type of hot pepper? Have you ever tried the Carolina Reaper?

David: Jalapeno, like the ones I use for my sauces – they are sweet, crispy, and has a good texture but also spicy. No, I have not tried the Carolina Reaper pepper but have heard of it.

Mary: Which of your products is your favorite?

David: I really enjoy all three of my products. I use the Sriracha as my dipping sauce, chili garlic for when I want a garlic nonsweet taste, and Sambal Oelek as a substitute for when I want a ‘fresh chili’ taste.

Mary: Do you have any new sauces in product development?

David: No, just the three sauces.

Mary: Have you ever considered making a hotter version of your famous Sriracha?

David: Yes, but we are limited to whatever is the heat of the Jalapeno we receive.

Mary: What are some hobbies that you like to do in your spare time?

David: I don’t have any real hobbies except working on my machines.

Mary: Do you consider yourself a private person? How do you deal with all of the attention?

David: Not really - it really depends on the occasion. People don’t really recognize me in public.

Mary: If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to yourself back when you were growing up, what would it be?

David: I have no advice for myself because, I would do everything the same if I had to do it all over again.

Mary: You are among 10 final ballot nominees to be inducted into the Hot Sauce Hall of Fame. How do you feel about that? Did you ever imagine that you would become such an icon in the world of fiery foods?

David: I did not know there was a hot sauce hall of fame. No, I never imagined I would be recognized for anything.

Mary: Is there anything else you want hot sauce fans to know about you?

David: I really appreciate the fans for being a Sriracha fan and/or friend.

Huy Fong Sriracha is now available at Hot Sauce Depot. I want to thank David Tran for taking the time to answer my questions!