by Owner Tony Nuñez
Let's take it back to where it all began, Los Angeles, California. I was brought up in a Mexican household, where food brings the family together and salsas were always at the table. I remember my mother spending endless hours in the kitchen making dishes like chile rellenos, mole, and of course, fresh salsas. Our home always had the aroma of love. With a single bite, you could taste the passion and love she felt for the food she made. In my teens, my mom moved my siblings and I to Texas to be closer to family during her last years battling cancer. Even in her sickness, she was able to get some strength and cook for us everyday. She passed away during my college years but her passion and salsa traditions continue with me. I replicated her recipes, but also made my own, fusing Mexican and other non-traditional flavors into my dishes.
In my twenties, I decided to pursue my passion for film. I started making my own movies at first, and for the last 15 years I've been filming local news stories as a photojournalist. But something started itching when I watched the movie, "Chef." The movie is about a man who decided to follow his heart and sell home cooked dishes in a food truck. I knew then, that I needed to do just that. Follow my heart.
From that point on, I grabbed my apron, turned my kitchen into a lab, and got to work. At first, I was making salsas for family, friends, and special gatherings. One of my first creations was a hot sauce inspired by a favorite taco place in East Los Angeles. The sauce was a hit with my family. Later on, my wife brought home a nutty and smoky sauce called salsa macha. It was love at first taste for both of us. I was inspired and created my own version of salsa macha. To honor my love for movies, I nicknamed each salsa after a genre film. With the support of my family and friends, I decided to submit our salsa macha a.k.a "Machete" into the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival in 2019. We won 1st place in the individual specialty category!
After the big win, we made plans to make it official and sell our salsas professionally. But then COVID happened, and what a curveball that was! We were no longer able to offer tastings, and everything seemed more difficult. But we kept the flame alive, and decided to launch Fantastic Fuego anyway. Thanks to word of mouth, we were able to sell out sauces to family, friends and friends of friends. Four months after the launch, we sold almost 300 sauces. We knew we couldn't stop there.
In 2021, we made it more official and got into a commercial kitchen in north Austin.
We are at a local farmer's market and have been doing pop up events all over the area. We have received a lot of praise from the public and selling now hundreds of salsas per month.
We entered The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival again, this time with our official brand name. Two of our salsas won 1st place in two of four categories. We are more motivated than ever to grow more. We are now in some local stores around Austin.
Fantastic Fuego is our tradition. Our salsas are always at our dining table. We hope this tradition continues in your home.