I met Al Pronko a while back when he owned a tasty restaurant in Hamtramck called Maria’s Comida. Every meal was amazing. But his salsa was the buzz. So he and his daughter, Marie, started producing jars of Maria’s House Made Salsa to sell at the restaurant. As its popularity grew, they transformed the restaurant into a food manufacturing facility and eventually expanded their business to offer co-packing services for other micro-batch food entrepreneurs.
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous to present my concoctions to Chef Al (and Sean, a professional foodie. More on Sean in another post.) It’s one thing to have friends and family enjoy my grub. It’s another to have it analyzed by people with far more experience.
My goal was to craft a hot sauce that solely respects the character of each pepper. I cooked up eight varieties with the intention of selecting one.
The taste tests started. I crossed my fingers and prepared to get booted off the island. But that didn’t happen. Both Al and Sean complimented each sauce and suggested I launch all eight. Yikes! I contemplated it for a good while and then decided to move forward with the four sauces you see today.
Next, Al started the process to formalize the recipe and process for state testing, classifications, regulations, approvals, etc., while I began work on the branding, packaging, website and a million other details. Throughout the entire development, Al kept telling me, “This stuff is going to take off.” I liked his optimism.
Eleven months later, HELL FIRE DETROIT attended the "Making It In Michigan" trade show and was one of three companies to be awarded Best of Show. Al said, "See, I told you." Besides recognition and press, this award guarantees shelf space in all three Westborn Market locations for a year. Please support your local merchants first!
Thanks for all you’ve done, Al. The world is a tiny bit yummier now!!!
Check out Al’s website.