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An Interview with Adam N. Fehr of Endorphin Farms, Contract Bottler and Sauce Manufacturer

For how long have you been making hot sauce? 

Endorphin Farms has been operating and making hot sauce for 13 years. Personally I have been making hot sauce for about 17 years.

What are your most popular products?

Hard to say for sure, we produce products for so many different companies. Our “niche” would be gourmet hot sauces. Being located in Saint Augustine, Florida we love datil peppers. Datil products would probably be our most popular. We try to maintain a small batch flavor and still produce it consistently and quickly.

How did you get started making hot sauce?  

First in a restaurant I was working at in high school. Then I got a job in a gourmet food store that specialized spicy foods, we sold a ton of hot sauce. I started getting ideas from all of these sauces, and even started collecting sauces. Funny thing is now I batch, cook, and bottle the sauce for that restaurant and some of the sauces I used to sell. Life is neat like that!

When did you go commercial?

13 years ago we switched the focus of Endorphin Farms from farming to bottling hot sauce.

How many bottles of hot sauce do you produce a year?

 Not trying to dodge the question, but quite a bit. We are larger than some smaller co-packers and smaller than some big ones. Last year we produced between 3 to 4 million bottles of hot sauce, bbq sauce, salsa, and salad dressing.

Do you have a preferred chili pepper as an ingredient?

 I love all of them. Overall the datil is my favorite but I often go through stages of pepper use. Right now I can’t get enough of the chocolate habanero, I am using it on everything. I love Trinidad scorpions, Bhut Jolokias, Jalapenos, Chile De Arbol and Orange Habaneros too.

Aside from chili peppers, what do you feel is the key ingredient(s) in making the perfect hot sauce?

Love, passion and creativity. That to me is what sets aside good from great or perfect. I often tell my customers how much I love making sauce, and to keep it fun! If you are not having fun doing it, stop. What could be more fun really? We are talking about hot sauce, food, endorphins, and friends! People with common interests creating and coming up with awesome products. Sorry I get on a roll and rant a little.

Is there a special process you follow in making your hot sauces? 

Temp and Ph. Those are the two keys in our process. We are an FDA approved facility for producing thermally processed goods. The process is very important for consumer safety.

Do you follow a particular philosophy to making hot sauces? 

Make it right. We produce sauces for a lot of people all over the world. We want to make the sauce correctly for our customers. I would rather throw out a batch that isn’t correct than to try to “jam” my customer with it. I can get almost anyone to come here and have us bottle their sauce once. Getting them to come back for a second run, that is how we know we are doing it right! It has to be a partnership between us (the co-packer) and the customer.

Do you have any other favorite spicy foods? 

You name it, I love it. I love to travel and try all of the local fare. I always gravitate towards the spicy stuff. I often try to see what and where the locals eat, I go and ask for the hot stuff!

Do you have any advice for would-be hot sauce makers making sauces at home?

Safety should be the first order of business. By a thermometer and a Ph meter and do some research. Once you know how to make a safe sauce, go nuts! It is limitless the ingredients and the ideas. Just when I think I have seen it all, someone comes in with a sauce that blows my mind! I think “Wow, I never thought of that!”. Have fun and enjoy the process of creating.

Do you have any basic/favorite hot sauce recipes to share?

This isn’t a hot sauce recipe, but it is a spicy recipe that is un-real! Go to your favorite grocery store and pick up wonton wrappers. Take the wrappers and inside put some Zane & Zacks Hellfire cream cheese. Seal up the wonton and fry in some oil till golden brown. Place on a plate and smother in Heartbreaking Dawns Datil Trail Preserves (Fiery Trail preserves are great too) You will not believe how good it is!

Imagine this sad reality: If you could have only one chili pepper the rest of your life, which would you choose? 

Datil Pepper. I know it is not widely used outside of Florida, but it should be! It is an awesome little pepper. Flavor, heat, and versatility. Love it!

If your life could be turned into a movie, who would you like to have play YOU on the big screen? What might the movie TITLE be?

The name of the movie would be: “What a long, strange, HOT, Trip it has been!” In the role of Adam would be….Brad Pitt circa 1992 from Legends of the Fall. (cause my wife always gasps when she sees him in that movie!)

Any other parting thoughts? 

The one thing this business has taught me is, I am really blessed and lucky. I get to work with and for some awesome people. I get to make and eat some of the best sauces in the world! I get to meet, eat with, talk with, drink with, and hang out with some of the best people in the world. Go to the spicy food events and try and buy products you like. Some of these people put everything into creating a product for a stranger to try and enjoy! It’s like music for your mouth, enjoy the every note!

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