There’s nothing like moving to Southern California to expand a person’s palate beyond their German/Irish culinary roots. Sean Dick explains, “In my family meals were pretty standard meat and potatoes, but when I moved out and started working in restaurants in Southern California, I experienced such an amazing variety of foods.”
Working the front of the house, Sean was always friends with the cooks. “I learned early on that if you take care of the cooks, they will take care of you.” Starting as a bus boy, Sean worked up to more and more responsibility. “I never wanted to be a line chef, I just loved to cook and experiment on my own.” His experience at Reuben’s Plank House and Maxwell’s on the Pier in Huntington Beach, taught him about good food and service.
During this time a blind date brought Sean and Carolyn together, and when she thought about moving with her family to San Francisco, Sean proposed, Carolyn stayed in Huntington Beach, and they married. She shares his love of entertaining. As a friend describes it, they have an “open door policy.” If you show up, Sean will cook for you.
The spark that started RedBeards was a 5-pound bag of habanero peppers. “A friend who has a store on the main street of Huntington Beach had been given this bag of peppers. He said, ‘I know you like spicy food, so here are some peppers.’ A habanero pepper is really light, so that was a lot of peppers,” Sean laughs. “My first idea was to make salsa, but the refrigerator would have been completely full of salsa, and Carolyn would not have been pleased.”
Since he happened to be smoking a couple of pork butts, he set the peppers on the top rack and smoked them. He announced that he was going to make wing sauce, because it’s easy to make for a crowd, and a crowd was the number they were often cooking for.
“I had always loved Louisiana style sauces -- Red Rooster Sauce, Pico Pika, Frank’s – but I usually doctored them up. When I developed my own recipes, I decided to fire roast the peppers and to make two styles of the sauce. Jalapeño starts out tangy in your mouth and adds layers of flavors. The first sensation with the second sauce is the layers of flavor followed by that floral habanero finish.”
Sean found that fire-roasting the peppers tempered the heat and gave the peppers delicious complexity. He experimented with the ingredient combinations to create his base to give the sauces layered flavors.
“The first test was a day when our son brought over ten of his friends and Carolyn and I had invited ten of our own friends. I made almost 50 pounds of chicken wings that day, and everybody loved the sauces.”
“Fast forward a few years, and a friend of ours told us he was buying the wing restaurant in Huntington Beach, and he asked if we wanted to partner with him. Of course, we would have our sauces on the menu and on the tables. That worked out almost too well. People were stealing our whisky flasks of sauce off the tables. So we decided we needed to make it for sale. Nine months later we had our permits and had moved into a commercial kitchen.”
The word has spread rapidly about RedBeards. Carolyn and Sean find cross-marketing to be very productive. They participate in beer festivals, a tamale festival, and street fairs. They received a gratifying compliment at one beer festival when a customer told them he never buys products at festivals, but he couldn’t go home without their sauce. Restaurants have been very successful with RedBeards Sauces as well. The super-popular Sugar Shack is such a big sauce customer, that Sean is happy to make immediate deliveries if they start to run out on a busy weekend.
“I love food and making food for people,” Sean says. “I’m proud to be making a product that a lot of people enjoy. Carolyn and I get a kick out of interacting with people at events, and we love to see their reactions to our sauces.”
“We make flavorful not-painful sauces – you will love putting them on every bite as a condiment, and you can cook with them too! We’ve added some delicious recipes to our website, so you can jazz up a wide variety of dishes with RedBeards Sauces.”