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edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016

EDIBLE ARTISANS BURN HOT SAUCE A local chef and farmer create a condiment like no other BY ROSIE PARKER PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA PARGH In an age when hot sauce is everyone’s favorite culinary accessory, Santa Cruz’s Burn Hot Sauce manages to burn the brightest. Wild fermented, probiotic packed, organic and rich in color and kick, its dazzling products make the company’s playful tagline “Wanna Burn?” an obvious rhetorical question. (For the record, this ringing endorsement comes from a writer who often finds garlic to be too spicy.) Burn is the combined powers of farmerchef partners Chase Atkins and Amanda Pargh. Drawn to the symbiotic relationship of restaurant and farm, Pargh and Atkins relocated to Santa Cruz from Sonoma in 2014 to begin work at Michelin-starred Manresa and Love Apple Farms, respectively. Shortly after their move, a fire at Manresa left Pargh (who had worked for years in prestigious kitchens like Animal and Lucques in Los Angeles and Ad Hoc in Yountville) with a flexible autumn, which she used to teach classes at Love Apple and experiment at home with all things fermentable. In the meantime, Atkins started to build relationships within the farming community through his job at Mountain Feed & Farm Supply in Ben Lomond and part-time work with various local farms. By chance, it was helping with a pepper harvest at a Santa Cruz farm that provided Atkins with the fateful first load of peppers— 20 pounds of serrano pepper seconds—that he brought home to Pargh. But from the first vivid red batch of hot sauce they fermented, the couple knew they were on to something. “We had this vibrant product that favored flavor over spicy,” Atkins says, beaming. “As a chef, it’s important to make something that complements food, rather than competes with it,” Pargh adds. e couple launched their business in April 2015, and in 18 months have grown from a first season of 200 gallons of hot sauce produced to the 3,000 gallons they were processing for a winter release as this issue of Edible Monterey Bay went to press. Pargh and Atkins’ method is deceptively simple: ey select, clean and slice vineripened, organic peppers and ferment them, still raw, with water and salt for 3–6 months in stainless steel vats. During this time, the yeast that is naturally occurring on the peppers is activated by the saltwater brine and converts the sugars in the peppers into lactic acid—a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. Fermentation also increases vitamin and enzyme levels in the pepper mixture, which in turn increases digestibility. And unlike the process used by most hot sauce makers, which is to cook down the peppers and then add vinegar for tang, the naturally radiant colors and flavors of Burn’s different raw ferments truly showcase the peppers they are made from as well as the farms that grew them. “It’s amazing how complex and nuanced the flavors get after fermentation,” Pargh says. “e serranos from 2015 are super citrusy and a little sharp on the tongue but fill the whole mouth with flavor, whereas the ai Bird has a sweet and mild start and then a sneak attack spicy that you can feel in your chest and under your eyes.” In addition to the 2015 batches of ai Bird jalapeño and serrano, Burn offered their tamer alternative—“mild but wild,” Pargh likes to say—of cyklon sauce from Fire Tongue Farm in Hollister. e cyklon, tangy with the right amount of kick, allows even the most heat-wary customers to be part of the “hot sauce on everything” club. Working with farms all over the Central Coast—and some from beyond—Burn Farm to flavor: Pargh, pictured with Atkins this page, second image from bottom, tells a visual story of Burn through her prolific Instagram feed. 18 edible MONTEREY BAY WINTER 2016


edible Monterey Bay Winter 2016
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