By Catherine Spearnak
Twenty years ago, Daniel Urbaetis’ father gave him the family hot sauce recipe. “He said ‘guard it with your life,’” Daniel said.
The military veteran did just that. And these days, Daniel and his wife Rebecca have built a business out of it, with Semper Fry offering 25 varieties of hot sauce based on the family recipe. Once running the business in conjunction with their regular jobs, they are now so successful that they are both working full-time on Awesome Hot Sauce.
“It’s getting very popular. We’re really excited about that,” Rebecca said.
They sell their sauces every Sunday at the Hillcrest Farmers Market, as well as the farmers markets in Clairemont on Saturday and Imperial Beach on Friday.
“We cater to our people. If they say, ‘I’d really like this in a hot sauce, I’d really like that in a hot sauce,’ we’ll make a sauce out of it if we think it sounds good,” Rebecca said. “That’s the reason we have so many varieties … we want to cater to everyone’s palate.”
Besides the original recipe, the couple’s repertoire includes When Pigs Fly flavored with bacon, Hummzinger based on garbanzo beans, and Grateful Fed laced with healthy ingredients.
“This sauce is a valuable source of Omega-3, the anti-inflammatory,” Rebecca said.
All of the hot sauces are made with local produce.
“Everything is healthy,” Rebecca said. “All the ingredients do something for your body that’s going to make it feel good. People develop a healthy addiction to the hot sauce.”
Daniel, a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, has turned his business efforts toward helping the troops. They give military discounts to any service person whether active duty or prior service. Their motto is, “Your time was worth something, right? Well it is here, too.”
Throughout the year, Daniel and Rebecca ship care packages to soldiers deployed all over the world. They do it to give the troops a little taste of home, and remind them that “we appreciate their commitment,” Daniel said.
Semper Fry encourages its customers to supply them with FPO and AP addresses of active duty troops so they can further broaden their reach. Customers can also pay an additional $8 if they have a specific person to send a care package to.
The care packages are filled with samples from the ever growing product line of Awesome Hot Sauce, candy, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wet napkins and other miscellaneous items we too often take for granted until we no longer have them.
Four of their Awesome Hot Sauces are nominated for this year’s world Hot Sauce Awards. The 34-year-old Original Recipe is competing for world’s best “medium” hot sauce. Sgt. Pepper is in the running for best “Louisiana-style” sauce. Hummzinger is going after world’s best “hot” hot sauce, and Venom aims to take home the honors for best “pepper blend.” Befitting of such a world competition, Daniel said, this one takes place in Louisiana, the birthplace of the most time-tested style of hot sauce known today.
All four of the nominees are available at Simply Local of North Park located at 3013 University Ave. In addition to the nominated sauces, Daniel and Rebecca personally selected eight others for shoppers, including their popular Awesome Spicy Avocado sauce.
“You can spread it with a butter knife,” Daniel said “… it’s an everyday condiment.”
—Catherine Spearnak is a San Diego-based freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.