“Saigon Charlie’s draws it’s inspiration from the amazing travelers in this world who looked to the horizon for something new, something better.”
Chili or chillie or ớt or aji…Call it what you wish: the magical properties are the same. These fruits came out of the ‘New World’ in the great era of discovery and arrived on the shores of Vietnam during the “Columbian Exchange”. In the beginning it was small quantities of fruits traded by Portuguese for local products that introduced Vietnamese to the fiery effects. Gradually, spicy peppers became regularly incorporated into the staple flavors of Vietnamese cooking. Over the centuries that followed variations in regional dishes established, and one region became most famous for spicy hot dishes in Vietnam. It is the center of the country: the old Imperial city of Huế. Yes, we have met farmers whose families have grown fresh produce for the Emperor on the same land for hundreds of years.
Like the chili, we got out start from small beginnings. A dinner party became a discussion on hot pepper sauces from around the world. We brought out an unlabeled bottle we had made recently and everyone was astounded and wanted to buy some. Before you knew it we were talking about making it a commercial venture. Then a good friend introduced the idea a socially sustainable venture; becoming Social Entrepreneurs. Soon we were sourcing top quality chilies from some single-crop farmers outside the citadel in Huế and finding hand-made, recycled-glass bottles and talking with people about how we could make a difference to the lives of people who have skills and passion, but, few options except subsistence farming or in sweatshops making sneakers. Our operation has expanded to include equipment, machinery and now an online presence. But at our core we retain two key passions:
1. The pure love of making the best possible hot sauce; for our home and for yours.
2. To help others succeed and make money that directly improves their life – not as a charity, but as a viable, sustainable business.