Eat, drink, enjoy: Dandy Sauce Co.’s hot sauces are born in Texas but made in Hollister

Wise Goat Organics’ Mary Risavi expands her culinary expertise with a new project.

The idea for dandy Sauce Co. was formed when Mary Risavi decided to take a guided tour with musician and fly-fishing enthusiast Chuck Ragan, and he casually mentioned that he used to be a co-owner of a hot sauce company.

“I used to fly fish when I lived in Colorado,” she said. “I feel really grounded when I’m in nature, so I’ve planned a few trips with him. He said he started a company called South Mouth Sauce with his friend Chad Dolezal in Texas about six years ago. They tried to do farmers markets and things like that, but they didn’t have a clear direction and they kind of fizzled out. So I said, ‘Let’s get it going again.’”

Introduced during the South by Southwest Festival in Austin in 2018, South Mouth featured two flavors, Americana and Fried Green Tomato, the prototypes of Dandy’s red and green sauces. Ragan and Dolezal brought Risavi into the company as a full partner. Risavi, with the success of their Hollister-based Wise Goat Organicshad the business acumen and food production experience to revitalize the brand, and they named the company after her favorite horse, Dandy, with whom she worked as an equine researcher in the forests of northern Canada.

“A pine beetle infestation kills a lot of trees,” she said. “The loggers selectively cut down infected ones. When they were down we would hitch up my two horses, Dandy and Pride, and push them out of the woods.”

Ragan and Dolezal brought Risavi into the company as a full partner and then held remote conferences to develop the business plan. The first two products she made for the new company were the Dandy Green Sauce and the Dandy Red Sauce, based on the original sauces created for South Mouth.

The company officially launched last January, but the partners were able to submit their sauces to the Good Foods Foundation 2022 competition, where they won an award for their Original Green Sauce.

As with everything Risavi makes, the ingredients are locally sourced and made with no artificial ingredients. Most of the ingredients in the sauces are organic.

“We source from the same places I use for Wise Goat, like Lakeside Organic Gardens, Coast Produce and Coke Farms,” ​​she said. “But we started making the sauces in the fall, so we couldn’t get some of the seasonal peppers in organic quality. But now that we’ve got our recipes and our systems out of whack, my goal is to go full organic next year and apply for organic certification.”

One thing that makes Dandy Sauce unique, according to Risavi, is that there’s more interest in flavor than just adding paprika to turn up the heat.

“It’s not necessarily like hot sauce,” she said. “It’s not just about the heat for us. We could add some other ingredients like orange juice or lime juice that will give you a different flavor dynamic and balance the acidity and spiciness with the spiciness of the peppers. It’s not just a burn-in-your-mouth sauce — you can actually enjoy it.”

Risavi is still working on distributing the sauces locally, but they’re available in 14 markets from Carmel to San Francisco, including Vertigo Coffee in San Juan Bautista, and she also sells them at Morgan Hill Farmers Market. Locations can be found on the Dandy Sauce websitewhere the sauces can also be ordered.

The sauces from Dandy Sauce Co.

Original Green Sauce – “The green sauce is a jalapeno tomatillo base,” Risavi said. “You can use this with avocado for a tangy guacamole or any kind of verde sauce.” I’m pretty much a lightweight when it comes to hot sauces, which is something to be aware of when it comes to hotness. But I had no problem with this one, straight from the bottle. Risavi rates it a two out of four on her warmth scale. I would place it on a good medium heat, with the flavor of the tomatillos further up the flavor profile than the smoky jalapenos and with the same depth of flavor you’ll find in a good Chili Verde. There are hints of lime, mustard and onion riding on the crunchy tomatillo flavor and the heat of the jalapenos hits the back of your throat. This was my favorite of the three sauces, and I think it would be a good starting point for most people who take a little lopsided view of hot sauces. Keep in mind that the pepper oil will settle at the top of the bottle, so shake well before using.

Original red sauce – A friend who tried these described it as “refined buffalo sauce,” and the comparison isn’t far-fetched. I find most buffalo sauces to be a bit sweet and monotonous, and Risavi toned down the vinegar in this version, which allows everything else to shine. This is a carrot based sauce that brings some sweetness that is counteracted by the citrus juices. It has about the same spiciness as the Green Sauce, and you can taste carrots, onions, and garlic without being overwhelmed by the Fresno peppers. Risavi said this is her everyday sauce, and it’s probably the most versatile — and fun — of the three.

Original gold sauce – Risavi, the newest addition to the line, places this sauce as three out of four on their heat scale, and it packs more punch than the other two. This sauce also uses carrots as a base, but gets its spiciness from habanero peppers and bell peppers, allowing the heat to spread and linger through your mouth. It’s a little too hot out of the bottle for me, but Risavi recommends cutting it with mayonnaise as a drizzle, which smoothes out the heat and really brings out the mixtures of peppers and onions. I also threw on some fresh popcorn, and it worked well.

Mary Risavi Wing Sauce
1/2 cup Original Red Sauce
5 tablespoons cold butter, diced
Heat sauce over medium heat until simmering, remove from heat and slowly stir in butter until combined.

Add 1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

BenitoLink thanks our insurers, Hollister Super and Windmill Market for helping to grow the Eat, Drink, Savor series and giving our readers the stories they care about. Hollister Super (two stores in Hollister) and Windmill Market (in San Juan Bautista) help cover the inspired and creative people behind the many delicious foods and beverages made in San Benito County. All editorial decisions are made by BenitoLink.