We caught up with the team behind Shedletsky's sauces, to find out a bit more about the makers, what advice they give to budding sauce entrepreneurs and the best tunes for cooking up some heat.
Company name & sauce
Shedletsky's // Smoked Hot
Tell us about yourself?
At the end of the day, we love feeding people. You could say it’s in our blood. James’s great grandfather, Sam Shedletsky, ran a kosher butcher in London’s East End in the 1920s. From his base in Stepney Green he supplied the neighbourhood with the best produce and meat available at the time.
A hundred years later, we made some kimchi on a whim for a party and got hooked on pickling and fermenting. After running pop-up kimchi making classes in our Dalston flat and providing our friends and family with an endless supply of test batches, we perfected the recipe and decided to make our products available to the public.
In honour of Sam and his East End butchers shop, we named the new business Shedletsky’s
Today, we make a wide selection of kimchi, pickles, krauts and hot sauces from our base in Leyton. We remain committed to using classic fermentation and pickling techniques, as well as using the freshest products we can get our hands on. But we’ve tweaked our recipes to ensure they’re delicious, exciting and easy for modern cooks.
We like to think Sam would approve.
James & Nat
What sparked your love of hot sauce? Do you remember the first time you had your first hot sauce - how did it make you feel?
We love fermenting things so making a fermented hot sauce was a natural progression. In 2017 long before hot sauces were even a thought, we went on a road trip from Miami to Louisiana. Along the way we stopped in every gas station and supermarket buying all the local hot sauces. We also visited the Tabasco factory in Louisiana and I guess that trip really stuck with us. It was a huge influence; particularly the Cajun and Southern food. This formed a perfect trifecta for us: Jewish heritage, Cajun and BBQ plus traditional fermenting and preserving techniques.
How did you develop the recipe for this sauce? How many batches did it take before you perfected it?
We have a habit of playing with our food a lot. If we are deep-frying things, we will start chucking random things in there. This was no different one day when we were smoking some meat and threw some red chillis from the fridge in to smoke. We also had some fermented red chillis kicking around and it went from there.
It was important for us to focus on flavour with some heat so that the sauce wouldn't overwhelm a dish. We aren't keen on super spicy sauces that leave you with nothing except discomfort. The addition of roasted tomatoes and garlic really rounded it off. The Smoked Hot Sauce is a great everyday sauce that goes with everything.
Hot sauce is going through a real renaissance at the moment, why do you think that is?
To put it simply: hot sauce is a hobby you can eat. Much like craft beer and natural wines, there is loads out there waiting to be discovered. Each has their own narrative and reason for existence. So you get the excitement of uncovering something new for your collection and you can also eat them. And you never run the risk of getting bored and there's literally a hot sauce for any taste.
What advice would you give to budding hot sauce makers looking to launch?
If you're a hot sauce fanatic, it's a wonderful progression to start making your own. It's accessible and not difficult to start. We say, just go for it. Take some time to learn the fundamentals and follow some proper recipes. Once that's under your belt it's really easy to experiment and tweak and generate something incredible and fun.
What excites you most about the rest of this year?
We want to cook for people! Last year we were meant to do a residency and that was scuppered. It's exciting to think that we could actually serve people in person soon.
Can you tell us about any sauces that are in development or are about to get released?
For 2021 we have been releasing very small batches of experimental hot sauces each month. January was a mustard and peach hot sauce inspired by the BBQ we have had in South Carolina and February was made with the brine from our pickles. At the end of March it's Passover so we've made a carrot and habanero 'tzimmes' hot sauce. Tzimmes is a delicious high holiday dish and we wanted that in sauce form!
Best three albums to cook too? and your top three go to condiments?
There's two of us with quite different tastes:
1. 'The Wonder of You' - Elvis with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
2. Me First & The Gimme Gimmes - all albums on shuffle, on loud so you can karaoke along
3. Any country playlist featuring: Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, The Highwaymen, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton.. etc etc etc
1. LCD Soundsystem: the long goodbye live album
2. Whipped Cream & Other Delights: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band
3. Nichola Jaar: Space is only noise
At this point we should also direct towards our Shedletsky's playlists on Spotify where all of this and more is available.
Condiments that AREN'T Shedletsky's Hot sauces:
Mayonnaise, Beaver Coney Island Mustard, Brown Sauce
(Ketchup can go to hell)