Matt Burns has come a long way; what began with 8th grade salsa experiments has transformed into a booming, sustainable business: Brooklyn Salsa. He gave Clean Plates the inside scoop on the company’s “condimovement,” conscious methods and how to salsa power your suds. Seriously.
Q: How did it all start? Was The Pure your first salsa?
A: In 8th grade I got a dishwashing gig at a small taqueria in my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My prep work was frying chips and blending fresh salsa. I had just gone vegan; salsa became an addiction and creative culinary outlet. There were no hard rules; a few tomatoes, a handful of cilantro, squeeze a lime, dash of salt, jalapeno, a little onion—boom! Salsa. Fast forward to 2008: my roommate had finished his MBA and was ready to launch something. I was making salsa and feeding the people. It happened.
Q: How has the company evolved?
A: In the early days there were punk shows in our basement, all night chip frying and tacos delivered out of our loft. We were using organic ingredients but still had issues with where things came from and how they were grown and transported. We started working on an independent sourcing structure with three main principles: direct trade, local sources and organic farmers. We call it conscious methods. We built relationships with farms surrounding NYC and tropical growers for ingredients like mango, coconut and lime. We tried to figure out what our carbon footprint was and minimize it.
The first time we went into production we drove from farm to farm, picked up crates of fresh produce as it came out of the field, mashed it by hand and did it jar by jar. In three days we made about 1500 jars. We called it the “condimovement,” the idea of going back 100 years to when farmers preserved their harvest to make it through the winters.
Q: What does your production process look like today?
A: It’s just like making salsa at home, only in a very, very big bowl, with a very, very big blender. The family at Hepworth Farms plants the seeds, drives the trucks and controls every aspect of their produce from the farm to our kitchen. We’ve got a badass crew who separates the ingredients and creates what we call “The Mash.” When it’s time to jar, we blend all of the mashes and bling blang, we’ve got Brooklyn Salsa.
Q: Any new seasonal salsas in the works?
A: Always. We’re excited about this season’s offering – it’ll be out in about a month. Your clue is: Salsa Negro.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: I’d like to tell your readers to take the lid off!
- 1 can of Modelo Especial beer
- 1 scoop of BK Salsa (The Hot or The Pure)
- a wedge of lime
- Pour one can of Modelo Especial beer into an ice-filled glass with a salted rim.
- Add one scoop of BK Salsa, either The Hot or The Pure. Squeeze a wedge of lime into the glass. Stir.
- Drink up. Salud!