Welcome back to the Local Love Blog Series!
This week’s feature is coming in hot – literally! I’m so excited to share the story of Ryan De Alwis, chef and owner behind Elevation Hot Sauce Co.!
Ryan is always looking for people who need to add a little spice to their life.
Elevation Hot Sauce Co. specializes in small batch, handcrafted hot sauces. Ryan loves creating delicious foods that sticks to your ribs and pleases your soul. As a long-time lover of spicy food and his background as a chef, it only seemed natural for Ryan to launch his own hot sauce business.
For Ryan, cooking is about so much more than just eating!
He loves being able to interact with people and have an open dialogue about food. Cooking for other people is his favourite and he really uses food as a form of communication with others.
Inspiration for Elevation Hot Sauce came from another chef friend who did something similar
Ryan had been operating a food delivery business called Curry’s Curries when he started experimenting with ideas for hot sauces. Eventually he came up with the Pineapple Fire Reserve and made it available as an add on to food delivery orders.
Soon he was ready to get his hot sauces on store shelves…
However, he was told that hot sauces tend to do better when there’s more than one flavour in a line-up, so he got to work on creating some other flavours. You can now find three different varieties of Elevation Hot Sauces, the flagship Pineapple Fire Rescue and Ryan’s two newest additions, Mango Bang-Oh! And Death by Pineapple.
Inspiration for Ryan comes from a few different places!
Growing up watching Martin Yan and Emiril Lagasse cooking on TV always seemed like fun to Ryan, from there that has evolved into Ryan’s continued love of watching cooking shows. He also draws inspiration from talking to other chefs and food industry people, especially drawn to those who are willing to take a leap of faith into the culinary world.
When Ryan is away from Elevation Hot Sauce he’s still busy cooking up a storm!
While he lives in Banff and has for the past 10 years, Ryan spends a significant part of the year working in remote areas like backcountry ski lodges and big game hunting outfits cooking for guests and staff out there. On his free time, he loves to experiment with new ideas for more hot sauces.
Ryan recently rebranded his company to focus solely on the hot sauces.
Not only does focusing the business on hot sauces create a good balance between Ryan’s time away working as a chef and still having something of his own, Elevation Hot Sauce has turned into quite the passion project. He loves the process of creating the recipe, bottling the sauces, getting them labeled and ready for the store shelves.
Having been in the Bow Valley for 10+ years now, Ryan has plenty of Local Love to share!
First up on his list to shout out are Julie from Glowfood Creamery, artist Marcos Molina, Norm and Martin from Banff Roasting Company, and Shoichi Murakami – the man who keeps Ryan’s knives sharp! He also loves all of these local businesses doing great work: Banff Yoga Practice (and their new branch Banff Wellness Practice), Red Gables Deli, Valbella Gourmet Foods, Paintbox Lodge, Talus Backcountry Lodge, Bow Valley Food Alliance, The Tune Shop, Rusticana Market + Deli, Nutters Everyday Naturals, Juniper Bistro, Mount Norquay, and Banff Gift Baskets! He also holds a soft spot in his heart from the work being done at Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue, where he found his own best friend, Bob.
Ryan is always keen to learn more about food and cooking and has been fortunate to have great opportunities to do so!
In the summers, you can find Ryan working as a chef at Big 9 Outfitters where he’s learned how to cook wild game and how hunting provides options for living a more self-sufficient lifestyle. In the winter he’s working at a backcountry ski lodge which adds a layer of logistical complexity when he’s planning a week of meals around helicopter schedules and needing to adjust as things come up. While the toughest part of this job is being away from home for so long, he’s grateful for the amazing support from his partner, Emily Gionis.
Ryan loves the positive response he gets to his hot sauces.
While he knows nothing happens without hard work and patience, hearing from his customers that they love what he’s doing makes it all worthwhile! The toughest part of his business has been finding retailers in Banff. While he’s well stocked at plenty of locations in Canmore, finding somewhere in Banff to sell his products has been tougher.
Ultimately, he would love to see the Bow Valley become more supportive of small food businesses.
More spaces like the Co+Kitchen in Canmore would help food entrepreneurs get going, where they can rent a commercial kitchen and share the space to allow for more food-industry small businesses operate. This would also encourage more collaboration amongst these small businesses.
With a smile on his face, Ryan is grateful for every opportunity that has come up and excited to keep sharing his hot sauces with everyone. He hopes to get Elevation Hot Sauces on as many store shelves as possible and continue to make new flavours including some limited batches of seasonal sauces!
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