Among the more piquant of our seasonings available at Weavers Way Chestnut Hill, one spice owes its name to the devil himself.
The brainchild of native Philadelphians Ted Ebert and Tom Hewell, Saint Lucifer spice blends first hit stores two years ago, and ever since then they’ve been bringing the heat to kitchen tables throughout our city.
What became a business for Ted and Tom began as a hobby. As post-college roommates in Manayunk, Ted said he and Tom shared a passion for “hot sauce and all things condiments,” but they soon found themselves “sick of the same old dance.” “We were always adding too much crushed red pepper and getting too little flavor,” said Ted. “So we tried to make something better than what we were used to, and it was fun.”
The two began experimenting with habanero peppers, aging them in vinegars and incorporating other ingredients like garlic, searching for the perfect balance between heat and sweet. Finally, they came up with the batch that would become Saint Lucifer Habanero Spice Blend. “It turned out really well, and we began giving it to our families and friends at holidays. It was a real hit. We started to mass produce it in our kitchen, trying to make pounds of it, for our own personal stash and to give out as gifts. We couldn't stop using it.”
After perfecting the taste of their spice, Ted and Tom began to explore the idea of creating a business. They began to research the spice manufacturing world, visiting grocery stores and calling manufacturer after manufacturer until they finally found a company willing to bring them in. “We walked into the boardroom, with the raw product in hand,” said Ted. “They looked at us like we were crazy, but they liked the product, and they liked us. They could see how passionate we were about it, how genuine. So now we go there four times a year, and they sit us down and show us how to refine our process and bring what we have to life — package it, bottle it and bring it out to the masses. And that’s how we became Saint Lucifer.”
With the consistency of a salt, Saint Lucifer has “deconstructed the hot sauce.” “We’ve gotten a great response, from Weavers Way, Wegman’s and others. We’re being embraced by restaurants throughout Philly, who are putting it with — or in place of — the hot sauce,” said Ted.
Though habanero peppers have a reputation for being overpowering in their heat, when used correctly these chili peppers can enhance your food’s flavor with a natural and complementary zest. Ted says he recommends Saint Lucifer on everything, though he particularly enjoys it on linguine, mac and cheese, and baked potatoes. Ted hopes Saint Lucifer will someday become “as ubiquitous as salt and pepper.” A lofty goal, but if anything has enough heat to catch fire, it’s Saint Lucifer.
— Nikolai Fomich, Weavers Way Chestnut Hill Grocery Staff