“We both love heat. We actually like to eat just raw chili peppers. Straight.” Thankfully, Brian Ballan and Ariel Fliman appreciate that not everyone’s palate is up to that level of assault. And, though they love heat, they love food and flavor even more, which is why they built their super-small batch hot sauce recipe on the back of a particularly fruity and full-flavored chili pepper known as the Red Fresno. “The whole point was to make something with a manageable kick. Something less painful, more tangy.”
Brian and Ariel have been pushing their tastebuds to the limit together since the 5th grade, but A&B American Style is their first foray into making a business of it. A few years ago, Brian left his corporate job with dreams of turning his foodie obsessions into a full time gig, beginning (baptism by fire!) by working the line at NYC’s ultra-swank Buddakan. The pair then devoted their free time to making a hot sauce recipe that would do justice to their passion – heat. After a year of hard work, they finally nailed down the formula and A&B American style was born.
For now, with Ariel working as a lawyer and Brian finishing up an MBA at Columbia, A&B remains a part-time project for these guys. But every chance they get, these heat-loving BFFs can be found elbow deep in the spicy stuff at the Long Island City commercial kitchen they share with a group of other like-minded small food entrepreneurs. Each batch of the sauce takes about eight hours total, from chopping to simmering to straining, bottling and finally hand-labeling.
They say the sauce is an especially natural fit for any and all things seafood – shrimp, oysters, even chowder – or anywhere you’d use Tabasco or cocktail sauce. Perfectly bright, hot and balanced, we say it’s great on any and all things anything.