The Pacific Northwest might not immediately scream “spicy” in regard to food, but a local family-run operation is bringing more than just heat to Clark County.
Silagy Sauce, an operation of the Silagy family originally conceived by family patriarch Dave Silagy, has hit store shelves at a handful of locations across the county in the last month to great fanfare. Dave said that at Battle Ground Produce, one of the locations where the sauce is offered, 200 bottles of the family’s sauce sold out in about three weeks. Over at the Amboy Market, the sauce managed to break 100 bottles sold in a weekend.
Currently, the Silagys have two kinds of sauce available — a “Smokin Hot Habanero” red and a “Cilantro Lime Serrano Sauce” green. Although both certainly have some heat, flavors other than capsaicin set both sauces apart.
The habanero sauce relies heavily on its smoked ingredients for a barbecue-style flavor, while the cilantro lime features a lighter zest that the Silagys call their “everything sauce” due to its usefulness on just about everything.
“That’s my number-one seller,” Dave said about the cilantro lime sauce.
He suggested putting it on fish tacos for a solid combination.
Although the business has only recently been retailing their sauces after getting approval from the appropriate agencies, making sauce has been something Dave has been doing for about two years now. It was initially out of necessity — having four sons in the household made the flavor enhancer a hot commodity.
“We were going through about a gallon of hot sauce every month,” Dave said. Beginning with an attempt to replicate a Caribbean-style sauce, he began making adjustments, using the family as his test subjects for the new concoctions.
Once the process started to pick up, family friends were clamoring for Dave to look into doing something a little more commercial with the product.
When not making sauces, Dave helps to run the family business, Cheyenne Manufacturing. As that job is a full-time affair, he needed some assistance in running the sauce operation, which just so happened to come in the form of one of his sons, Mitchell.
Mitchell said he got involved with the business after a skiing accident left him with a broken leg late last year. Needing something to do in the meantime, he started working on the sauces with his father, and now he’s taking on the bulk of the operation.
“It was really a blessing for me because I really love working with my family and working with something that I’m passionate about,” Mitchell said. He said the sauce was a way for his family to share something with the public that they do well. He recalled how when he was growing up, anytime Dave was on the grill the neighborhood would be clamoring to get in on the delicious action.
Currently, several local locations either sell or use the product in their own food from Amboy to Hazel Dell. With business booming, the Silagys have a bit of a happy problem as they are essentially at capacity in terms of production for the clientele they have built up so far.
The next step for the business is fine-tuning the supply chain to make sure that the ingredients — fresh, not canned or concentrated — are available enough to meet increased demand. Once that’s shored up, Dave said they are looking at the possibility of expanding their repertoire with another sauce. He said they are researching a Thai chili with lemongrass to provide one more flavor to the roster.
Dave also mentioned the possibility of delving into Bloody Mary mixes or barbecue sauces. He said that a from-scratch barbecue sauce he made using the Smokin Hot Habanero was “off the charts” with its flavor.
As to what sets Silagy Sauce apart from other sauce makers, Dave explained it was a focus on more than just heat for heat’s sake. A lot of the products he had seen available were heavy on vinegar and relied on liquid smoke as opposed to “the real thing.”
Actually smoking the ingredients is a big part of the process, as Dave explained that when researching the sauces, picking a proprietary blend of wood to burn is what leads to the Silagy signature flavor.
Although the Silagys have interest in growing the business, they will stay small if it comes at the cost of their handiwork.
“That may be one of our limitations with our product line is that we are not going to compromise. This is what we want,” Dave said, adding that should the business approach the point of getting too big to do it hands-on, that would likely be time for the business would stop growing.
Apart from the hand-crafted process, the sauces’ versatility was another point both Silagys touted.
“If you want something that is going to give you a little bit of heat and is going to give you a lot of flavor … it complements everything from eggs, to hamburgers to tacos,” Dave said.
“We have yet to find something it doesn’t work good on,” Mitchell added.