Spanish explorer Bartolomé de las Casas once remarked of the indigenous people of Mexico "Sin chile, no creen que estan comiendo!" And, as a spicy food enthusiast, I sympathize; without chiles, it’s practically not food. A staple since pre-colonial times, chiles are a food with a unique and storied culinary history. And with the new Don Chilio™ line of spicy and crunchy chile-based condiments, Kreativa Gourmet is carrying that tradition into the North American market.
“The chiles are dried and cooked in olive oil in such a way that it preserves the chiles and the olive oil, and the chiles come out crispy. They’re then jarred with spices,” company Co-Founder Ana Cecilia Berens tells me. “Our product is a food enhancer—for both people who love spiciness and others. You can add it to chicken, to meats, fruit, salad, eggs; they’re wonderful with cheeses, on crackers—whatever you can think of.”
Available in three unique flavors—a spicy Crispy Habanero, Serrano, and Jalapeño—in attractive 140 gm jars, Don Chilio’s fresh sliced chiles in seasoned olive oil, add a pleasant crunch and kick to a variety of dishes. From Mexican food staples like tacos or enchiladas to omelets, pizzas, sandwiches, and spreads, the companies chicharrón de chiles, Ana Cecelia tells me, offer nearly endless culinary possibilities—inspired by the food culture of her native Mexico.
Diego, Ana Cecilia’s oldest son, started the concept and was quickly joined by his brother, Mauricio, in developing the product and starting the business just last year. Together, they have already entered 60 stores in Mexico City and growing rapidly.
“We were raised around food. My father loved to eat well, to go to restaurants, and as a grandfather, he taught our food culture to my children—a love of food and of gathering as a family around food,” Ana Cecilia explains. “It’s not only about eating; it’s about family and friends gathering.”
Don Chilio products, Ana Cecilia tells me, are as perfect for enhancing a celebratory spread as they are for a simple snack.
Kreativa Gourmet is currently launching in gourmet food stores and specialty food retailers throughout the United States.