Five years ago, Eric MacNeil had a dinner party to attend and nothing to bring. Though he'd only made hot sauce once before, he threw together a batch and gave it to his hosts. He had to leave before anyone could try it, but later learned that the guests loved it so much they'd riffled through the fridge looking for anything they could eat it on. "They were putting it on lettuce," MacNeil laughs.
He took it as a sign and soon started JC Hot Sauce. He didn't quit his day job as an engineer, but finds that that mental training is an asset for his side gig. "My recipes are very exact," he says, "I have the weights of the ingredients down to thousandths of a gram."
He sells three flavors year-round: ;original, jalapeno onion (great on eggs, he says), and spicy chipotle, which he suggests brushing on pizza crust before baking. He also plans to add four seasonal flavors to the line. He hit a home run with his autumnal pumpkin habanero sauce, but called an attempt at cranberry hot sauce "incredibly bitter and inedible," so he's currently working with a chef to develop additional flavors.
JC Hot Sauce is available in Jersey City at 9th & Coles Tavern or Creative Grove Market, or through their Etsy shop. It sells $6 per bottle or $15 for all three.
About the author: Stephanie Klose has more mustard than you. You can follow her on twitter at @sklose.