Do you love spicy food? The burning sensation on your mouth awakens your senses? Are you like Selena Quintanilla and add hot sauce all over your pizza or you are like Beyoncé and always have hot sauce in your bag? Maybe you are like Deb Rock, a Latina entrepreneur that grew up eating and watching her ancestors enjoying fresh jalapeño at every meal. If you identify with these strong females and are a chile pepper aficionado, if the terms like “flamin’ hot,” “fuego” and “dinamita” doesn’t scare you at all, then you should definitely try Rock’s fiery hot sauce line, Sonoma Hot Sauce. Available at Big John’s in Healdsburg, El Gallo Negro in Windsor, Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, and all four locations of Oliver’s Market in Sonoma County, California, this ethically made product packed with a lot of traditions, made of just organic and vegan ingredients like, sea salt, vinegar, garlic, and peppers, will make you feel the authentic Mexican heat.
As reported by La Prensa Sonoma, Rock belongs to a family of farmers and always daydreamed to grow and harvesting her own food. When her parents joined the U.S. military, Deb Rock had to move to the military base yards in Louisiana, an industrial complex without gardens. The state of Louisiana is known for the production of Tabasco; Therefore, it was common to see bottles everywhere. “It was on every table,” she said to the newspaper. “To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a meal without hot sauce on it. So I started to make my own hot sauce.”
To follow her dreams, in 1993, she moved from Louisiana to Seattle. While in Seattle, she immersed herself in the agriculture, and learned how to grow her own food, joined community agricultural programs and later created her very first hot sauce, which she called Deb’s Hot Sauce. After 20 years, in 2013, she moved to Sonoma County, a decision that changed her life. According to the newspaper, Rock enrolled in an agropreneur program at Santa Rosa Junior College, here she learned in depth about the business and how to produce, sell and distribute what we know now as the Sonoma Hot Sauce.
After five successful years in the market, Rock not only thinks she’s the only Latina in the United States developing and authentic line of hot sauce, she is also growing a new cross of chiles, named by her as the Sonoma Chile. “I started growing about 20 kinds of chiles, but in the field, these seeds would cross,” she said. “Doing this every year for many years, a new chile has been refined.”
Rock revealed that she’s growing on a farm in the fields of Rohnert Park, a selection of sweet and spicy chiles. “I use a blend of peppers, everything from sweet to a medium-hot. It’s not a super hot, hot sauce, but it’s not moderate. It’s hot sauce!” she said to La Prensa Sonoma. “Because of the closeness to the ocean, we have this slow maturation of the peppers, just like the local wine grapes,” she continued. “Moving here improved the flavor of my hot sauce dramatically, definitely because of the Mediterranean climate and the incredible soil that this farm has.”
In the United States, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinas are ranking number one in the growth of women-owned businesses. In an exclusive interview for Alice at helloalice.com, Rock said she got accepted at the “Shark Tank” competition, an event sponsored by the Hispanic Chamber Commerce in California.
This smart businesswoman knows there’s still a lot more to create in the market. She is currently exploring the possibility of creating the “Chile Collective,” a group of local farmers focused on harvesting her chile peppers to mass-produce the Sonoma Hot Sauce. According to the product website, the goal is to create with the locals a “community condiment” that can be present on every table.
Deb Rock’s vision also goes beyond that, living in California, a state with the largest Latino population and the one that grows 43% of our nation’s food, she is looking forward to see in the near future how immigrants farmers proudly grow healthy food for the planet.
She also revealed that with the money raised in 2017, the company could expand, produce, and distribute the Sonoma Hot Sauce. They also bought “seeds, labels, bottles, lease land, rent commercial kitchen space, and expand the product line; market, promote and travel to hot sauce festivals, events and pay for the processing and storage of 2018’s massive production,” adding that a portion of the money also helped to employ two brand ambassadors and a marketing team, now called the Sonoma Red Hots.
The Sonoma Hot Sauce has Hispanic and non-Hispanic fans, locals and from all over the country, that regularly share delicious ways to pair their new favorite hot sauce with their food. “We wake up breakfast by splashing Sonoma Hot Sauce on eggs any way, poached, scrambled, boiled, fried, Benedict, omelets etc. Sonoma Hot Sauce Really Is ‘Eggs best Friend!'” said Tim Matakas.
“Sonoma Hot Sauce is a complete win-win for me. Not only is it delicious and pairs well with almost everything, but it also supports a local business. Good for me and the economy! I get to add a little kick and a lotta’ heart at the very same time!,” revealed N R Perez, a winemaker, lavender farmer and egg producer also shared the story of his son taking the hot sauce and weeks later ask for more. “I received a call two weeks later asking for “more, many more” bottles! We are just waiting for its release now, and will make this our ‘house’ brand!”
If you want to support our Latino community and try for yourself the amazing taste of the Sonoma Hot Sauce, visit your nearest distributor or order online.