Summer Fancy Food Show

Clark + Hopkins explores global cuisine through hot sauce

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags hot sauce Flavors

FoodNavigator-USA met with Brandon Clark, co-founder, Clark + Hopkins to talk about the brand’s portfolio of global flavors during the Summer Fancy Food Show which took place at the Javits Center in Manhattan, New York, June 25-27.

One of the most distinguishing aspects of a culture’s food is in its herbs and spices. For Clark, he explores different peppers and spices that give regions from Kerala and Oaxaca to the Chesapeake Bay and Georgia their unique flavor.

“I study different regions of the world, take their ingredients and put them in our bottles​,” Clark explained.

Clark + Hopkins’ activism also shapes the brand’s strategy with the recent launch of its Ukraine sauce, inspired by the national dish, Borscht with beets, caraway and dill. Proceeds of every purchase are donated to chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen and its efforts towards rebuilding Ukraine.

For hot sauce, heat is the name of the game – but so is function. As more consumers look for functional benefits in their food, hot sauce, particularly the chili pepper’s active ingredient capsaicin, has been long been lauded for its endorphin-boosting and pain relieving benefits. With hundreds of different peppers from around the world, hot sauce offers consumers an opportunity to conveniently experience global flavors in a bottle.

For the brand, sourcing as many ingredients as possible from local regions is essential in establishing those core flavors, which Clark explained about the hot spice blend, berbere, which was sourced from Ethiopia for its namesake hot sauce.

If I’m going to do any sauce, it’s authentic to the region​,” Clark explained, “Ninty-nine percent​ of the hot sauces out there are purely topical and ours you [can] cook with so that’s what makes us a little different.”

Clark + Hopkins’ sauces are all-natural, gluten-free, ethically sourced and vegan, apart from Laos which includes shrimp.

The brand’s Assam, Laos and Ethiopia and sauces won the Specialty Foods Association’s Sofi award three times in 2019, 2020 and 2023 (respectively) for Best Hot Sauce. Assam and Calabria were both featured in the television series Hot Ones, which has arguably popularized hot sauce culture and brands around the country.

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