Dan Frieber is the mastermind behind Tango Chile Sauce, one of the most delectable hot sauces around. He shared a little of his backstory and his hot sauce intel with us — and we wanted to share it with you. Read on!
Where did you grow up?
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Who taught you to cook? And, if the answer is different: how did your interest in food and cooking ignite?
I’m not much of a cook, actually. Making hot sauce is more like mixing vegetables together until it tastes perfect.
What made you start making this sauce in your tiny lower-Manhattan apartment kitchen? Did you set out with starting a business in mind?
I fell in love with a chile sauce my grandma made, so I attempted to recreate it for myself where I was living at the time. I ended up making something a bit different, my friends and I really loved it, so I just kept making it.
Were the carrots part of your grandmother’s original recipe? If not, what made you decide to use them?
They were part of the original recipe, but in a much smaller quantity.
What were you doing before you started Tango Chile Sauce?
Designing misc campaigns for various projects around NYC, learning/playing music, and throwing parties.
You have a really strong brand, maybe bolstered by the fact that you only sell one product (in two variations). Is this the way you intend to keep it, or do you have other products you’d like to produce down the line? (Are you playing with any new product ideas right now?)
Tango wasn’t the first product I’ve made, and it’s already not the last. We will also probably release other products under the ‘Tango’ brand, but for now we’re still focused on getting the one sauce just right. I’ve got a few other food products in the works, but they’ll likely get their own brands.
A few varieties of this magical sauce
Do you work alone? Who are your go-to taste-testers?
My mom is probably the least hesitant to curse our bad batches up and down. My grandma too. Everybody else just loves it.
What do you think is the best way to use this sauce — how are its flavors best drawn out or complemented?
I think the flavor really complements certain kinds of Mediterranean, Indian, and Vietnamese food. People most frequently tell me they love Tango on their eggs the most.
What’s your favorite local restaurant, café, or market?
John’s Deli is my neighborhood bodega and they keep it real and make great sandwiches. The guys know everyone in the neighborhood and always make jokes. My friends at Springbone Kitchen in the West Village also do an excellent job with their food.
Do you listen to music or podcasts while you cook? If so, what/which?
Music. We love music at Tango. We have a whole music component to our brand called ‘Tango Presents’ (http://instagram.com/tangopresents). Last sauce production session though I believe we ran through some Nicolas Jaar, Flying Lotus, Tool, Yussef Kamaal, Gogo Penguin, NWA, some Eminem..
What are your favorite cookbooks?
That would be ‘Clean Food Dirty City’ by my friend Lily Kunin
What are your favorite non-cookbook books or authors?
Favorite book of all time is probably The Tao De Ching, favorite author is probably Bukowski
What’s your favorite comfort meal to make?
A good pasta with a good sauce and a good cheese
What’s your go-to dinner party meal to make?
I’ve never brought food that I’ve cooked to a dinner party
What’s your favorite drink of the moment?
We're going to take you through some quick-fire questions — don't think too hard; just answer with the first thing that comes to mind. Dog or cat?
Tomato sauce or pesto?
Regular fries or waffle fries?
Chocolate or caramel?
Pizza or pasta?
Wine, beer, or cocktail?