North Lake Tahoe foodies launch small batch sauce company
Brought together by a love of snow and food, two friends have now launched their own craft sauce company out of Incline Village.
Andy Brimm and Erik Castaneda met at Diamond Peak Ski Resort where Brimm’s catering company operated Snowflake Lodge and Castaneda worked as the base operations manager.
“We got to be friends, and he’s a foodie and I’m a foodie so that’s all we did — talk about food and eat,” said Brimm. “I got fed up with buying BBQ sauce that I wasn’t happy with. It’s all syrupy and thick and sugary, so he and I started messing around with the BBQ sauce first and finally got to a point that we really liked it. We’ve been using it in the catering company ever since.”
After four years of experimenting in the kitchen, Brimm and Castaneda launched Small Batch Sauce Co. in January with their signature BBQ sauce as well as two varieties of enchilada sauce.
Every jar is made by the duo and canned in Brimm’s catering kitchen using only vinegar as a preservative.
“It’s all natural. In our BBQ sauce, there are only seven ingredients,” said Castaneda. “It’s a very well-balanced sauce. Our secret is taking whole tomatoes and smoking them for a few hours. That’s the puree and the base of the sauce.”
Small Batch Sauce Co. has started a new partnership with a farmer in Nevada City who is growing 50 organic tomato plants specifically for their BBQ sauce.
Using chilies sourced from farms in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico, organic chicken broth and an assortment of spices, the enchilada sauces are made with the same philosophy: simple, but flavorful.
“Eventually we’d like to grow our own ingredients, but that’s a ways out,” said Brimm.
For now the pair is focusing on ramping up production and experimenting with seasonal specialties, like a limited-edition applesauce.
“We’re going down to pick organic apples in the next couple of weeks from a 100-year-old orchard that’s never been touched in Guerneville,” said Brimm.
“There are over 200 trees with all of the species of apples you could ever want,” added Castaneda.
Though for now Small Batch Sauce Co. is as described — small — Brimm and Castaneda have hopes of getting their product in more stores and restaurants around the lake.
“It’s an expensive hobby at the moment that we want to turn into more,” said Brimm.
But until then, their sauces can be found at a few select locations on the North Shore: Mountain High Sandwich Company in Incline Village, Tahoe Food Hub in Alpine Meadows, and Tahoe Central Market in Kings Beach.
Small Batch Green Enchiladas
1 cup rinsed rice
1 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp salt
2 cups vegetable broth
3 Tbsp canola oil
Blend cilantro, garlic, salt, and vegetable broth in a blender until all big cilantro chunks are gone.
In a medium frying pan, fry rice, stirring constantly, with oil until browned. Add cilantro mixture to the rice, cover and cook on low heat until all moisture is gone, about 20 minutes.
1 yellow onion
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp butter
In a small frying pan, sauté chopped onion with butter until slightly browned and tender. Turn off heat and add sour cream, stirring until full incorporated.
Pull apart home-cooked or store-bought roasted chicken. Take the skin off and pull the meat off the bone into small strips.
Fried corn tortillas
1 cup canola oil
6-inch corn tortillas
In a small frying pan, heat oil to medium high and fry tortillas until slightly crispy, about 30 seconds on each side. Remember that the tortillas need to be rolled up, and if they are too crispy they will break. Using a paper towel, remove any extra oil.
Assembling the enchiladas
Start by putting a small line of green rice down the center of a tortilla. Chicken comes next and then the sour cream mixture. Then top that with a little Small Batch Verde Enchilada Sauce and roll it up. Put the enchilada in a greased baking pan and continue making them until your pan is full. Cover the enchiladas with verde sauce until you can barely see the tops of the enchiladas. Finish with a healthy sprinkle of Monterey Jack cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese is golden.