Something is burning up in East Van and it’s coming from David Rogers’ kitchen. Last year his little hot pepper plant gave him quite a surprise when he took a bite out of one of the little red peppers he grew, not expecting it to be that hot growing up in a Canadian climate and all. Unfortunately for his taste buds, he was wrong. It burned like fire and he realized these wouldn’t be snacking peppers – and he had 80 more to get rid of. Considering he was quite the cook, he harvested them all and whipped up his first batch of hot sauce, before he knew he’d be indulging this industry for the next half year.
Since then, he’s tried over 20 varieties, changing and tweaking recipes, branched out into mustard territory, and has experimented with all things hot and saucy. When he’s not stirring up a storm of hot concoctions or hand-bottling and wax-dipping the attractive packages, he’s booking shows at The Astoria and playing in a variety of bands including Basketball, Aquanaut, and V. Vecker Ensemble.
BeatRoute: Is the hot sauce flying off the shelf?
David Rogers: Every time I do a craft fair I sell out.
BR: How did you start off making hot sauce?
DR: I bought a pepper plant from Home Depot and it grew like 80 peppers at the end of the season. I did some research on how to make a standard Frank’s hot sauce, I read about the PH levels and ingredients, basically vinegar, salt, peppers, blah blah blah. I was like, “Maybe I’ll make this more like a sauce with tomato sauce!” So I started just adding in some more pineapple and sugar and chipotle. Then I was like, “Onion would be good! And garlic, that’d be nice!” Boiled it all down and this is what came down. I wrote down what I did in a little book. I’ve tweaked the recipe a million times since, but the Chipotle Habanero with pineapple was the first, it was pretty good! At the same time, I’d just stopped smoking and my hands needed to do something, so I went out and got more peppers and made five more batches. I had cupboards and cupboards full of jars waiting for them to age. I was like “my little pretties!”
BR: Do you grow most of your ingredients still?
DR: No, I would just pillage the garden if I did, I make too much. I do buy fresh ingredients though, mostly from vendors on Commercial Drive.
BR: What do you put the sauces on?
DR: The Chipotle Habanero is kind of like my house sauce. I use it for eggs, pizza… it doesn’t have too much heat to it. The mustard I use for sandwiches and stuff, and this enchilada sauce I’m going to make with ghost peppers! It’s insane sauce for people who are insane.
BR: Do you think you’ll ever take the hot sauce with you on tour and sell it at craft fairs?
DR: You know there are actually bands that have their own hot sauce flavours for merch! I’m too shy to do that though. I’d make a hot sauce for a band though. I think Iron Maiden has some.
BR: What’s the hardest part of the job?
DR: Not touching any part of my body when I’m making the hot sauce! The oils of the peppers… they burn. If I don’t wash my hands after handling them then I can feel it start to burn as it sinks in. When I first started I didn’t realize I’d have to wear gloves or wash my hands right away.
BR: What kind of music do you listen to while you cook?
DR: I listen through a lot of bands that I’m looking to book. I also listen to a lot of records, from metal to jazz.
Long Locks Hot Sauce is available at the East Side Flea. Watch out for new music from Basketball coming, hopefully, in 2014.
By Jessica Brodeur
Photo: Sarah Whitlam