Chili Talk with Jason and Giselle McClure of Chili Beak
Chili Beak — otherwise known as Jason and Giselle McClure — is a mind-blowingly delicious (and spicy!) homemade chili oil. We chatted with Jason and Giselle to find out how they got the idea to make their oil — and we found out a whole lot more, too.
Where did you grow up?
Jason: Tyler, TX.
Giselle: Guadalajara, Mexico.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Jason: I wanted to be many things, most notably a vet.
Giselle: I wanted be a coffee shop owner.
Who taught you to cook? And, if the answer is different: how did your interest in food and cooking ignite?
Jason: I learned from my mom and grandma, but really didn’t cook that well until I met Giselle.
Giselle: I learned from my mom and grandma as well, and then from a culinary school.
So, seven months of trial and error to perfect your sauce — that’s some dedication! What was that process like? Did you taste-test the oils on their own, over certain dishes, have friends over to taste?
We mostly tasted different blends on their own. As we started refining the recipe, we would put it on our meals. We just kept doing that until we landed on our current recipe.
What are some of the things that make the biggest difference in the flavor of a chili sauce?
Oh, there are so many things that make our chili oil stand out! First is the combination of chiles. This took the longest to figure out. Second is not over-roasting or burning the chiles. Burnt chiles taste horrible and act like pepper spray in your home. Third, we chose the best salt available, which is Redmond Real Salt. It brings out such a nice flavor.
Jason & Giselle's signature chili oil.
Are either Texas or Utah, in general, clued into chili oil? Have you found good chili oil anywhere in the US?
The only places that we can tell that have good chili oil are big cities on the West Coast and New York. Most of them come from Asian influence. There is a growing culture for chili oil. Our recipe was inspired by a Mexican chili oil that we “upgrade” to match the palates of people in the US.
How did you two originally meet, and what had you each been doing before Chili Beak?
Giselle: I was Jason’s student in English class in Mexico 10 years ago. We started dating, and about 7 years later, we embarked on starting our own business together. After creating the recipe and getting such great feedback, we decided this was the product we wanted to base a company on.
Had either of you thought about, or planned on, starting a business — let alone a food business — before this quest to create your own chili oil?
Jason: We both have entrepreneur blood in us. I’ve tried starting many businesses from consulting to internet-based, and Giselle started with selling brownies, and wound up owning a coffee shop.
Do you have any competitors in the chili oil department?
Locally, we don’t have any chili oil competitors. Nationally, there are a handful of artisan-style chili oils, none of which have gained national success. There are several Asian-made chili oils that seem to have a stronger presence on the national level.
What are your all-time favorite ways to use your chili oil?
Eggs are probably the easiest. Potatoes are amazing and pizza is a classic.
What’s your favorite local restaurant, café, or market in Salt Lake City?
We love Alamexo, Chile Tepin, Publik Coffee, and Caputo’s.
Do you listen to music or podcasts while you cook? If so, what/which?
We usually listen to various audios and trainings on mindset and attitude, plus music with good vibes that we can put into the product.
What are your favorite cookbooks?
We aren’t fans of cookbooks. We either cook the things we know by memory or experiment.
What’s your favorite comfort meal to make?
Quesadillas, maybe, because they’re easy and so delicious.
What’s your go-to dinner party meal to make?
There are two: first is crackers, cream cheese, jam and Chili Beak. The second is sausage balls — try them just once and you’ll be hooked.
What’s your favorite drink of the moment?
We're going to ask you some quick-fire questions — don't think about them too long; 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?
Chocolate, but only the good stuff (Bean to Bar).
Pizza or pasta?
Wine, beer, or cocktail?
Jason: Ginger beer.