A Founder’s Day Tribute to Our O.G. Aardvark Hab Sauce
Aardvark Founder Scott Moritz spent his teens surfing his way through the tastiest waves in towns south of the border from his native San Diego. But he spent every bit as much time doing culinary surfing through each locale’s taco trucks, markets, and restaurants.
And he came by it honestly. Scott’s Dad launched two Captain Dooley’s Soup Kitchen locations in San Diego – and he put Scott to work at an early age helping out in the kitchen. This exposure to food and flavors sparked a lifelong obsession and lit the fire under what would become Secret Aardvark.
Deconstructing Sauce, One Country at a Time
According to then-wife and now-Aardvark CEO Stacy Moritz, she and Scott “Ate our way like locusts” across every region they traveled to. Scott’s quest for flavor – and the couple’s love of adventure – brought them on multiple trips throughout Mexico and Central America.
Everywhere they went, Scott would spend more time in local markets than anywhere else. “I’d be like, ‘Can’t we just go snorkeling?’” Stacy recalls. But Scott would be obsessed with sleuthing out the local ingredients he’d then take back to the hostel kitchen – sometimes cooking for the guests, staff, and chef – to try and approximate the flavors he encountered in area restaurants.
This reverse engineering involved a variety of peppers and spices, but one pepper rose to the top time and again as a go-to. It was the fan-tabulous habanero.
All Hail the Hab
Habanero peppers are pretty darn hot. And this intensity is desirable for people who enjoy spicy foods and want a hot sauce that delivers a fiery kick.
But, in addition to heat, habaneros have a unique and fruity flavor. This fruity undertone adds depth and complexity to a hot sauce, making it so-much-more than just pure fire. In other words, Habaneros strike the PERFECT balance between heat and flavor.
Back in the day, you couldn’t find habaneros at your corner grocery store – or much in the U.S. at all. But that was okay with Scott. He was more than happy to grow his own.
Then, as he crafted his new sauce, he cast his eyes around the rest of the garden. Soon, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, spices, and various other ingredients went flying messily into pots as he riffed on variation after variation of his new hot sauce.
He also knew the preparation method plays a crucial role in the overall flavor and heat of the sauce. And when he started roasting those habaneros and other veggies to blackened perfection, he landed on a gamechanger that is a big part of the flavor we still bottle and sell as Aardvark Habanero Sauce today – nearly 20 years later!
Scott called it the “Dump it on Everything Sauce” for a reason.
Because habaneros offer that sexy spicy-sweet balance, you can use them to create hot sauces that complement a variety of dishes, from classic U.S. fare to Mexican and Caribbean to Asian and beyond.
And Scott wasn’t content with one “type” of hot sauce, anyway. His passion was fusion cooking – long before fusion was a trend – and he wanted that ambidextrous nature to extend to his sauce. That’s why today, you can use our Hab Sauce on just about anything you put your mind to.
Back Off, Vinegar
And because they’re so flavorful, here’s one thing habs don’t need: to have their flavor buried under a river of vinegar. And definitely, nobody’s meal needs that.
So, when Scott crafted the recipe for his sauce, his number one goal was to go pepper forward. And so, when you squeeze a bottle of our Hab, you’ll see it’s downright forkable, with a thickness that stays on your plate, especially compared to all those sauces out there whose main ingredients are vinegar and water. Scott made a commitment for his sauce to be “real food,” and it’s a commitment we carry forward with pride today across our entire product line-up.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Sauce
While Scott left us far too soon, his legacy is alive and well. Every time you wrap your mitts around a bottle of Secret Aardvark Habanero Sauce, that is.
So, cheers to the original Secret Aardvark, Scott Moritz. His mischievous streak and love of coloring outside the lines continue to thrill sauce lovers and will for years to come.