One of the great things about writing for Greenpointers is occasionally getting to watch dreams transform into reality.
When I first met Heatonist founder Noah Chaimberg, it was on a bitter, snowy Sunday morning back in February. He was shivering on the doorstep of a Wythe Avenue construction site, kindly waiting to greet me and explain his zany vision for a spicy future. He was part-way through a Kickstarter campaign, with the hope of raising enough funds to turn said construction site into a hot sauce tasting room and events space, complete with the world’s first hot sauce sommelier.
Five months later and not only is the Kickstarter well and truly funded, but the Heatonist store has been open and flourishing since April, and Noah’s team of fiery experts are busy educating tender tastebuds far and wide about the wonderful world of heat.
The shop itself is a hot sauce lover’s dream. The shelves are lined with over 100 varieties of the spicy stuff and there’s a counter where you can sample each and every one, guided by a heat-loving ‘sommelier’ who will artfully direct you towards the perfect spicy condiment.
But the shop is just the tip of the, um, chili-pepper. Behind a sliding door lies an events space and kitchen area and, beyond that, a large, beautiful garden.
When we visited Heatonist HQ last Sunday, they were hosting a tasting event in collaboration with MTV’s Brothers Green, Josh and Mike Greenfield. As well as having recently completed the first season of a cooking show for MTV, Josh and Mike also have a popular YouTube channel focusing on ‘recipes for the common cook’. They taught themselves about food at an early age, after realizing that their mom was perhaps not the greatest of chefs, and later learnt to combine cooking with their love of music and travel.
We arrived to find the two brothers cooking up a spice-storm in the newly installed Heatonist kitchen. They were handing around fresh, herb-stuffed Vietnamese summer rolls and short rib tacos, bright with key lime, red cabbage, and pear slaw, slathered in smokey pepper butter. Needless to say, each item was finished with a liberal slosh of perfectly chosen hot sauce.
In between bites, we sipped cocktails of tequila, lime, pineapple, and spiced honey crafted by Mike of Greenpoint’s own Mike’s Hot Honey (who just celebrated their 5th birthday last week. Congrats guys!)
In the garden, a vat of liquid nitrogen brought an air of entertainment to dessert, and we gathered round in awe as Brothers Green whipped up spicy ice cream, freeze-dried strawberries and their own hot/cold take on Dippin’ Dots.
As guests collected under the shade of giant umbrellas to escape the afternoon sun, I realized that Noah’s hot sauce dream had come a long way from that sub-zero day in February. Yep, it’s fair to say that Heatonist has truly become hot property, in every conceivable way.
Heatonist is at 121 Wythe Avenue.
To find out more about upcoming Heatonist events, sign up for their newsletter or follow them on social media. Or better still, pop by the store and try out their abundant range of hot sauces for yourself.