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Below is our recent interview with Dr. Mike Hernandez, Co-Founder at Casa M Spice:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Casa M Spice?
A: Casa M Spice Co™ is a new specialty spice company based in DFW that focuses on providing spice blends that deliver the best flavor possible for a wide range of dishes to arm everyone with the tools they need to be a hero in the kitchen or at the grill/smoker. Spices form the foundation of the flavor profile for a dish; using a well-crafted blend of spices helps anyone plate excellent tasting food without drama, fanfare, or much effort. Our line of spice blends was developed over more than two decades of holiday barbecues, birthday celebrations, and special occasions. While they were designed with grilling in mind, they are versatile enough to be used anywhere. Our mission is to provide the best flavors possible because great flavor makes great food, and great food makes great memories.
Q: Tell us your story. How did you start?
A: I’ve been in the kitchen and at the grill since I was very young. When I graduated high school, I knew I either wanted to go to the CIA to become a chef or go to Tulane and blow things up with lasers. While I did the “guy thing” and went to college to blow things up with lasers, it only served to strengthen my culinary roots since New Orleans is well known for good food and, of course, cayenne pepper. Building on my love for those flavors, once I left New Orleans, I started to tinker with making my first spice blend. Fast forward a couple decades later and every time we had people over for holidays, celebrations, or events, we would invariably get the compliments before, during, and after meals, but at the end of the evenings we started getting more requests for the recipe of the spices that then turned into “Can I pay you for a bag of that?” We started feeling like drug dealers saying, “Hey, here’s a dime bag of Chain Reaction™.“ Eventually Manny, my husband and our Chief Operations Ninja, and our nephew Dane, our Spice Wrangler, convinced me that we should share the flavors that Casa M had become famous for so that everyone could enjoy those flavor profiles in his or her own homes with his or her friends and family yielding good food and great times for all.
Q: You’ve recently announced the launch of your website, could you tell us something more?
A: The website launch is just our first step toward distribution. Our products will be available on Amazon in the next 60-days, we have already started business-to-business sales into foodservice and other kitchens, and we are slated to display at a few trade shows next season to launch our products into grocery stores for broader availability. We plan to keep the 10 oz stainless steel shaker product line and refills for those exclusive to the website, but Amazon will have access to the rest of the catalog. Speaking of our catalog, everything in our lineup starts with Chain Reaction™ (moderate heat) or Uncontrolled Chain Reaction™ (hotter/spicier), which are our Season-All products, and then from there, they are tailored to a specific purpose. There’s Cattle Drive™ for beef, Free Range™ for chicken, Good Shepherd™ for lamb, Hooked™ for fish, and Whole Hog™ for pork as well as the Uncontrolled version of each of those too. While they are designed to enhance a specific protein’s flavors, that is far from their only use; we are always hearing from our customers that they love Whole Hog™ on broccoli or carrots, or poke bowls or Chain Reaction™ on potato chips or popcorn or even watermelon!
Q: What makes your products unique? How would you convince the reader to try them out?
A: Since spices are all about flavor, it’s exceedingly difficult to convey to readers why they should try them out since technology hasn’t evolved to the point that it can deliver taste to an end-user directly. However, the next best thing is something the Internet does well; we provide as much “food porn” as we can to show off what we think the flavor would be if was expressed visually. It’s funny, though, taste isn’t the first thing we hear about when our customers first get their package from us! It’s very common for us to get excited emails from customers who opened their boxes and immediately post about how **good** the package smelled when they opened it, so to us, the whole sensory experience is essential. We believe that our line of custom blended spices delivers a much more complex flavor profile than anything else on the market. With most seasonings, tasting them directly from the bottle yields a pop of flavor (usually salt) that might be accompanied by something else, but it quickly fades away, and that’s it. With ours, it’s a sensory explosion from the first smell, to tasting a bit on the tip of your tongue, to letting the flavors express themselves while they develop. For instance with Chain Reaction™, after being struck by how good it smells, the first thing you taste is smokiness from the chiles and paprika, then a brightness that then evolves into earthiness, and finally a lingering heat from the chiles. We’re firm believers that if we can get the product into someone’s hands, that’s all it takes. For that reason, we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all our products. No questions asked. On top of everything, our entire line is low sodium (with several being very low sodium), so you’re free to add as much or as little as you’d like for a specific application or use without ever having to worry about over salting.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: We are passionate about delivering great flavor and even better customer support. One thing I learned building my last company, which I sold in January 2017 and is now publicly traded, is that slow and steady progress with a purpose always beats fast and erratic. We intend to master the art of delivery, both of flavor and customer service, direct to the consumer through our website and Amazon first. After that, we will slowly start to penetrate the B2B market such that foodservice can begin to share the flavors with their clientele, and finally introduce the Casa M Spice Co™ family to distributors such that we can become a household brand synonymous with the best in quality and service. Along the way in the short term, we’ve got two sauces that are presently in production that we hope to introduce in time for the holiday season 2018 and a couple of new derivatives of Chain Reaction™ in R&D that hone in on particular regional cuisine flavors.