In the Kitchen

Pairing With Peppers

How Pepper Junction’s John Greene made his way from server to hot sauce connoisseur

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John Greene is a self-proclaimed one-man band. And no, that doesn’t mean he has a couple of cymbals and a drum strapped to his person like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. The seasoned restaurant professional sells hot sauces by himself for his company Pepper Junction. In 2014, after 30 years in “the industry” working various jobs, John decided that he was going to follow his long-held passion for hot sauces. The love started with Tabasco as a child and blossomed into an unexpected travel tradition later on in life.

“I realized when returning from a trip visiting family and friends, my suitcase would typically be loaded with six to ten bottles of hot sauce that I’ve never seen before. The light bulb finally lit up with an idea. If there aren’t any hot sauce shops in the area, why don’t I at least explore the idea and see where it goes?”

Since then, John has dedicated his time to selling products that bring the heat but are balanced and flavorful. The sauce purveyor says that the craft hot sauce movement is in full swing, so people are not looking for condiments that are going to “blow your head off your neck.” In the restaurant business, John learned about the products he was selling, food and wine pairings, and flavor profiling. And when it came to his own creations, he used his pairing knowledge to put together recipes. Much like a good cabernet to compliment a meaty steak, John creates hot sauces to compliment and highlight specific local fare.

“Tears of the Sun for instance is a habanero hot sauce made with peaches, pineapple, papaya, and mango that is an amazing compliment to our local oysters. A sauce of this nature paired up with local oysters with fruity undertones makes the oyster pop with a flavor explosion.”

While his love of hot sauce was the impetus for invention, John’s health also spurred his interest in healthy cooking and eating. Prior to the “light bulb” idea, the business owner discovered that his cholesterol was excessive. Soon, he became more in tune with his diet and was put off by synthetic ingredients on the labels of packaged food products. When his business finally took off, John pledged to carry real ingredients and “offer amazing products with excellent quality that are healthy.”

As it turns out, peppers have a variety of advantageous properties, like capsaicin, an anti-cancer hot pepper attribute that elevates heart rates and can assist with losing weight. This, asserts John, is a secondary mission of Pepper Junction: To educate the local community about healthy food, and more specifically, the ways that hot sauce is delicious and nutritious.

In the future, John would like to continue bridging the gap between food and local craft beers with sauces and seasonings. His goal: “Offer a flavor symphony in the same way certain foods with certain wine can bring your at home food experience to the next level.” Currently, Pepper Junction products are sold out of John’s aunt’s antique shop, Jules Antiques & General Store.


Pepper Junction