The epic tale of Mike's Hot Honey begins in Brazil, in the northeastern state of Bahia.
There's an element of destiny to it all: Michael Kurtz's parents met on a trek through Brazil. They settled in Amherst, Massachusetts, where little Mike developed a passion for music. At the University of Massachusetts, he designed his own major combining Brazilian music, Portuguese and Afro-Brazilian history and cultural studies. He then found himself studying abroad in the Bahian city of Salvador for a year, after which he and a few friends embarked on a five-day rainforest hike through the Brazilian backcountry. That led them to a tiny, remote jungle town.
After eating nothing but beans for five days, they were thrilled to hear tell of a pizza place run in someone's backyard (Brazilians are crazy for pizza – but really, who isn't?). Mike noticed everyone was pouring tons of chile-infused honey all over the pizza. He tried it and was instantly blown away – the flavor mashup of the spicy honey with the charred crust, cheese and basil seemed to perfectly capture the incredible vitality he loved about Brazil.
The owners showed Mike their secret: chiles are grown in their backyard then steeped in honey and served in jars with the chiles left in. Maybe it was the exhaustion, or maybe the honey was just that good – either way, all things academic in Mike's mind were replaced by an obsession with hot honey.
He returned to the States, and while he was settling back into New York City he kept his connection to Brazil alive by experimenting with making his own.
One night at the then-new Brooklyn pizzeria Paulie Gee's, Paulie himself came by Mike's table (as he's wont to do), and the two started talking. Mike was looking for a new job, and Paulie, recognizing a fellow pizza enthusiast, invited him to work at the restaurant as an apprentice. Soon enough Mike was climbing the ranks, quietly using his Hot Honey on Paulie Gee's sopressata pie.
Mike's Hot Honey began generating major buzz. People started requesting it, and soon enough, bottles were on each table, people were asking Mike where they could get their own, and Paulie Gee's began selling it at the bar. Mike soon took matters into his own hands, and launched his own website.
Now, at the end of the epic journey of Mike's Hot Honey from the depths of the Brazilian jungle to Mouth HQ, we're so happy to be able to send it on its next trip: into your Mouth!
Mike infuses honey with chiles as he learned in Brazil, then adds a splash of vinegar. It may sound simple, but this super-condiment has transformational powers. And while it's not for the faint of heart, the sweetness mellows the chiles, so you don't have to be a total hot-head to enjoy it.
It's also surprisingly versatile. We've been breaking it out for everything from fried chicken and biscuits to fancy cheese plates to bitter green salads to cocktails.
Now, imagine sitting at an outdoor bar in Brazil, eating pizza drizzled with Hot Honey, drinking a Caipirinha... #goals