CLEARWATER, Fl. — Just a few years ago, he was dabbling with hot sauce recipes as a hobby in his own kitchen. Now, Carlos Sanchez has the official hot sauce of Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training and the Clearwater Thrashers.
“I've always had a love for heat but I couldn’t find something that satisfied me personally," Sanchez said. "I decided, you know what, let me create my own hot sauce."
Sanchez thought he was creating a family recipe, but soon realized, that family would be expanding to fill BayCare Ball Park.
“It was unexpected, yet it was very, very thrilling,” Sanchez said.
He was trying to gain traction for Carlos’ Consuming Fire Hot Sauce at a local festival last year, when a Philadelphia Phillies executive tried a sample.
“About a month later, he actually called me and said, ‘we would like you to be the official hot sauce for the Phillies Spring Training and the Clearwater thrashers,’” Sanchez said.
In just a matter of months, Sanchez went from the kitchen to a co-packer, bottling five different types of sauce. Then, on Opening Day, there it was, right next to the ketchup and mustard, ready for consumption at BayCare Ball Park.
“My wife and I had the opportunity to walk around the whole park and watch people actually enjoy the sauce, it was amazing, it was absolutely amazing,” Sanchez said.
That brings us full circle to this weekend, the 15th annual Pinellas Pepper Fest at England Brothers Park, April 9 and 10, consisting of more than 100 house sauce makers, the majority of them from Tampa Bay.
Organizers said festivals like this are the best way to get your sauce recognized.
“The more you talk and the more business cards get transferred to each other, next thing you know, like Carlos, you are getting a call going, ‘we tasted your stuff, my wife loves it, we want to buy cases,’ or ‘hey I know someone who wants to put this in their restaurant,’" organizer Pat Largo said.
As for the general public, it’s a chance to find out what you like, and what makes you sweat.