About All Spice Cafe

“Do you guys actually have a Cafe?”

This is a question we get asked all the time. Although not a reality yet, the idea is for opening a cafe one day, with most everything on the menu spice based - spice for flavor not necessarily for heat. The line of gourmet hot sauces is the 1st step in that direction.

As a two-man start- up, spreading the hot sauce love, the first customer was Stroh's Gourmet Deli on Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA in 2006. Adding two more flavors, Chipotle Garlic and Caribbean Spice, word started to spread about the sauces and the business got off to a great start.

The Back-Story

With roots going back a few decades to the advent of the Buffalo Chicken Wing, All Spice Cafe gourmet hot sauces got started because many people who tasted the wing sauce made by founder JD Cowles kept saying that he should bottle and sell his sauce. After years of home cooking and lots of family & friends continually telling him to bottle the sauce, All Spice Cafe got its start in 2006 when JD thought he would finally test out the market and produce some bottles of his greatly loved sauce.

In the fall of 2006, three sauces were entered in the 2007 Scovie Awards as part of the Fiery Food and Barbecue Show in Albuquerque, NM. In early November the news came - the Cayenne Habanero took 3rd place for Habanero sauces and the Caribbean Spice took 1st place for Caribbean style sauces! September of 2007, the Chipotle Garlic was awarded a 3rd place Fiery Food Challenge Award at the Zest Fest in Fort Worth, TX and later in the year the Caribbean Spice was awarded a 1st place Award at the Hot Sauce Awards in Manhattan, NY! 2008 was a great year for All Spice Cafe - Los Angeles magazine's annual Best of LA issue named JD “Best Hot Sauce Maker,” 3 Golden Chile Awards at the 2009 Zest Fest and 7 Scovie awards at the 2009 Fiery Food and Barbecue Show. The first Whole Foods stores, as well as gourmet shops and restaurants in Southern CA starting to carry the sauces. An online store was also started in 2008 for those people who didn't have access to the products in their areas.

The business continues to grow, adding Whole Foods stores in AZ, HI, and NV as well as more gourmet shops and eateries. 2010 also brought 6 new products to the brand, Sweet Habanero and Sweet Ghost Pepper Popcorns, two new spice rubs, Ghost Pepper Adobo and Ghost Pepper Jerk, a Ghost Pepper Sauce, and Ghost Pepper Grinder. The Bhut Jolokia pepper from India is the hottest pepper in the world, referred to in the West as the Ghost Pepper, offers extreme heat without adding Oleoresin Capsicum (pepper extract).

Stay tuned to allspicecafe.com as new products keep being developed and expansion into new markets continues.

Bio: JD Cowles talks about his background

Spending most of my life living in Upstate NY, I grew up in a house with a Mom who was (and still is) a fantastic cook. Being someone who loves to eat, I always felt at home in the kitchen.

In the 1970's, Buffalo Wings began spreading all over the Northeast. While attending SUNY Oswego in upstate NY, many of the bars and restaurants in town started serving wings to an eager college crowd. The delicious and spicy wings soon became a big part of my life. After graduating in 1979 and moving back to the NY metro area, looking for a fix for spice, I came across a simple recipe for a hot wing sauce. Not finding the recipe spicy enough, the recipe gradually evolved, adding additional ingredients forming what is now All Spice Cafe's Cayenne Habanero Sauce. The recipe has stayed the same since the mid 90's when habanero peppers became available all over the US.

The sauce and wings were devoured at parties and barbecues all over the NY metro area and in Western NY. As a digital artist working in the post production industry, selling the sauce never entered my mind. Working for Kodak in the motion picture industry in the early 90's, traveling around the the US and Europe teaching artists how to use the Kodak Cineon Digital Workstation, the search for spicy foods started to expand to spicy cuisines from around the world. Word began to spread about the homemade hot sauce on grilled chicken wings and friends and colleagues started requesting bottles for use at home.

As the saying goes, the rest is history.

(note: JD is also a Certified Kansas City BBQ Judge and a Grill Master at Two Guys Grilling.)

Bio: John Lesko talks about his background

Being behind the scenes from the beginning of All Spice Cafe, I guess it's time to come out from the shadows and let people know a little about my role and background. Like JD, I grew up in my mother's fantastic kitchen, but hers was a little different because she cooked Japanese dishes as well as Slovak dishes. I learned to cook at an early age and I helped in the kitchen with everything from tempura to perogies. I love great tasting, flavorful food and really love to eat.

Working with JD at Kodak in the Motion Picture Industry during the ‘90s, I also traveled all over the US, Europe, and South America. When traveling, we would find the best places to get awesome meals and shared the information with each other - long before there were blogs, we talked about starting a reviews site so we would remember where to go for good food on the next trip. I often thought about quitting to go to culinary school, but I never did.

I cook a lot and like to experiment. One of our newest products, Sweet Habanero Popcorn and the Ghost Pepper version of it, came out of my kitchen when I was trying different things to do with the sauces. Like other recipes, I gave samples to anyone I could and figured we had something here because people begged for the recipe, "or package it and sell it" we were told. Taking almost a year to learn the proper techniques of candy making (that's what caramel popcorn really is) and researching production methods, it finally became part of our new product line and has gotten some really great reviews.

I’m still behind the scenes most of the time (JD is the Brand and needs to be out front) and I take care of the site, blog, online store, marketing, along with a slew of other things, trying to keep the gears well oiled. I’m always testing new recipes and thinking of the next great thing.


Contact All Spice Cafe Gourmet Fiery Foods:

JD & John

JD@AllSpiceCafe.com - (310) 866 0926
john@AllSpiceCafe.com - (310) 751 0827

For questions regarding online ordering, please email: flavor@allspicecafe.com
For comments on the website, please email: john@allspicecafe.com

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