James Lindsey has always been a cook who enjoys food with an extra kick.
While some cooks add wine or herbs for more flavor, more often than not today both chefs and consumers are gravitating to the increasing array of hot spices to achieve not only a “kick” but sometimes a kick in the ass, so hard you might find yourself laying on the ground chugging whole milk and eating saltines for relief. No, this is not the level of pain Mr. Lindsey is attempting to concoct, rather, he’s going for something with more nuance and subtlety.
Lindsey says that infusing spices with liquor adds an extra layer to the flavor profile.
Flavor is what Tonguespank Spice Company is about. They make hot, Utah liquor infused spice blends.
Lindsey’s passion for spices has been and still is a side gig. His profession is in IT working in data storage for Dell/EMC. However, he carves out the time to follow his passion for making dull foods exciting with his hot spices.
Lindsey started growing super-hot peppers, from which he made dried and ground batches. Eventually he crafted his own blends of a dried jalapeno with hard cider from The Hive Winery. He then shared these spice blends with his friends and family. They loved it, so he started Salt Lake Spice Company.
A few years ago Lindsey joined forces with Tonguespank and joined their Kickstarter campaign. He found the Tonguespank line of products top notch and in line with his own. Lindsey then acquired ownership of Tonguespank. He added his new liquor-infused spice blends and other hot items like sauces and rubs to the line of products. A few of his products include Smoky Bourbon spice blend, Garlic Grappa Spice Blend, Citrus Rum and many more.
Lindsey says that the hot and spicy food niche is a growing market. “Chile-heads”, as he calls them, “are constantly in search of hotter and hotter spices and sauces.” The increasing demand for hot food is obvious from the menus of fast food restaurants, which are adding an increasing amount of “hot and spicy” items. According to Lindsey: “The hard part about being in this area is not just making spices or sauces that cause outright pain, but to create something with a unique amount of heat and flavor.” The initial Tonguespank team has been essential in this endeavor. Lindsey describes his team as extremely loyal and ready to answer any challenge in the hot spice arena.
He hopes that in five years Tonguespank will be on some larger retailer shelves. He hopes it will be known for its great range of unique spice blends, rubs and sauces. He also would like to sponsor a BBQ team.
Currently, Tonguespank products can be found online at www.tonguespank.com, as well as at many of the local farmers markets and gift fairs, and on the retail shelves of several local outlets such as Grove Market, Sugarhouse Distillery, 1% Fitness, Boozetique and Pirate O’s.
At the end we asked Lindsey for his advice to anyone who wants to leave the corporate world and start their own ventures.
“I would say to start with making something YOU love,” he says. “Otherwise it’s just work.” §
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