food and drink

This Entrepreneur Worked For Years To Sell Her Authentic Mexican Sauces To The World And It Paid Off

Courtesy of Salsaology

In 2013, Lori Sandoval found herself in a tough predicament where she had to figure out what to do with her career. Fresh out of college and with plans to go to culinary school, she knew a career in food was part of her future. So she decided to pursue her passion and start a business around salsa where she could connect her Latina culture and background in cooking. Five years later, Sandoval is the proud owner of Salsaology, a line of all-natural and non-GMO cooking sauces inspired by regional Mexican flavors. The salsas reflect Sandoval’s desire to change the narrative on how Mexican products are viewed.

When Lori Sandoval first started making her salsa, she knew that she was on to something special.

credit: Salsaology
CREDIT: credit: Salsaology

Sandoval knew that if she put her background and experience into the salsas, she’d do great things with it. So she began showcasing her salsas at farmer markets. It wasn’t long until she realized this could be something bigger than a farmers market booth. She met a Whole Foods Market buyer who told Sandoval that if she could get the salsa mass produced they would carry her product in a few stores.

“I thought it would be easy to just start making them from home and go from there but I didn’t know there was so many guidelines and food standards to sell at Whole Foods,” Sandoval says. “That’s when I started looking for a manufacturer to help.”

Finding a manufacturer became one of Sandoval’s biggest challenges because of her ingredients.

She was denied by countless manufacturers that simply didn’t grasp what her product was truly about. Despite the passion she had and the success of the salsas, manufactures just didn’t understand it.

Manufacturers didn’t understand why her salsas had so many ingredients let alone their significance.

credit: Salsaology
CREDIT: credit: Salsaology

“They didn’t get it. They couldn’t understand that a salsa could have so many ingredients,” Sandoval says. “Everyone kept saying no and telling me you’re never going to sell $12 salsa.”

Sandoval says she kept having to explain to people the importance of her product and reminding them that salsa is more than just something you dip your chips in. She recalls constantly hearing stereotypical comments about Mexican food and manufacturers turning her away.

“I found myself having to defend my product and explaining that salsa means sauce.” Sandoval says.

After a year of getting her business shot down she finally got a yes from a manufacturer. However, there was one caveat — she had to get the ingredients herself. Sandoval agreed to the terms and would soon find herself driving through Los Angeles at the crack of dawn picking up ingredients in her SUV. She recalls the long mornings going from warehouse to warehouse getting pallets of cilantro and hibiscus and packing them in her car.

“That period in my life taught me a lot not only about food and how to start a business but about myself,” Sandoval says. “I did that for a year and knew this was what I needed to do.”

Today, Salsaology is sold across the country and has won multiple awards for it’s taste.

CREDIT: credit: Salsaology

By 2015, Sandoval’s vision was starting to take shape as Salsaology was getting picked up in over 250 markets across the country. Her vision of starting a business that was true to her background and culture was becoming a reality.

“When I saw the sauces at Whole Foods it was years of work come true,” Sandoval says. “I always wanted to create something that was part of me and there it was. I couldn’t believe it.”

Today, Salsaology is an award-winning sauce that has been sold across the U.S. and as far as Paris. Her line of sauces has grown to four including a seasonal pumpkin sauce with plans to eventually lower costs on her products. Sandoval credits those tough days jump starting her business as a reminder of where things are today.

“I wanted to create something you would find in Mexico but make it so you could experience it in your own home,” Sandoval says. “I feel that by making these sauces I’m taking back our food and re-creating what it really means to be authentic.”


READ: Here’s What These Top Mexican Chefs Have To Say About The Future Of Mexican Food In The US

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A Mexican Chef In NYC Is Giving Diners A Chance To Try Gourmet Mexican Food With Traditional Insect Ingredients

food and drink

A Mexican Chef In NYC Is Giving Diners A Chance To Try Gourmet Mexican Food With Traditional Insect Ingredients

@theblackantnyc / Instagram

Back in 2014, the East Village didn’t know it was about to get a gourmet traditional Mexican restaurant. So traditional that Chef Mario Hernandez does not hold back from tossing in a few ‘edible’ insects to top off your guac or rim your tequila glass. Owner Jorge Guzman told New York Magazine that the ants are expensive because they only emerge in Oaxaca once a year.

Here’s a look at the foods you can expect at the gourmet New York City restaurant The Black Ant.

First, start with the guacamole with crushed ants to top it off.

CREDIT: @theblackantnyc / Instagram

Remember, this is an upscale Mexican restaurant we’re talking about so the guac is going to be extra ($13 to be precise). It’s served with wakame-black ant salt.

Try a grasshopper croqueta.

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Mmhm. That’s a croqueta de chapulín. While there is one grasshopper who is staring you down, you can eat the rest of them without looking at them in the eye. They’re tucked in with yucca-manchego and salsa.

Not everything is covered in ants.

CREDIT: @theblackantnyc / Instagram

Like this buñelo de pato (crispy duck dumplings) bathed in Oaxacan Mole Negro y queso fresco. Támbien tiene algo por veganos: the roasted seasonal vegetables with vegan green mole and greens.

Para tomar: crushed worm salt rimmed tequila.

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Yup. I guess worms are salty. The Black Ant is lauded for it’s cocktails above all else and is worth getting a spooky drink or two to celebrate the Halloween season.

Get spooky with these floating ant carcasses in your drink.

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Eso es Buenbicho Mezcal with Chile ancho infused campari, cocchi torino sweet vermouth and orange oils. And ants.

Careful, because even dessert can bug you out.

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Can you spot the insects? This is a platano cake, parsnip and grasshopper ice cream. Take your next adventure-seeking date here.

The chef goes back to Mexico every two months to restock on insects.

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The menu changes based on the season for insect collection. Did I just block out that vendor at the market?

If you’re adventurous, but only en el mar, try this dish.

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It’s (obviously) a seared octopus tentacle con frijoles, but can I just say that octopus are actually some of the most intelligent creatures and have been spotted playing a game of toss witch each other.

Can you spot the insects?

CREDIT: @theblackantnyc / Instagram

Because they’re there, all en mezcla con shishito peppers, avocado purée and queso fresco. I believe these are another variety of roasted grasshoppers.

Get your veggies in, along with these creepy white buggers.

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I’m telling you, people are raving over this restaurant. ZAGAT continually gives the restaurant a 4 star rating and has rated their guacamole as the Best in NYC.

Veganos: meet your meal.

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You know when you go to a fancy restaurant and there’s only one thing on the menu and it’s $22 vegetables? Well this is kind of like that (scroll down for more), but the reviews are incredible. The vegetables are all fresh, and we all know how time consuming fresh mole is to prepare. This is gourmet to the max.

Then of course there are tacos.

CREDIT: @theblackantnyc / Instagram

While both the owner and chef repeatedly tell news outlets that they brought The Black Ant to the people to show that Mexican food is more than tacos and burritos, their tacos are showstoppers.

This is a piña pastor with avocado purée on a fresh spinach tortilla. Veganos, rejoice.

You can find more traditional (in the modern sense of the word) comidas here, too.

CREDIT: @theblackantnyc / Instagram

Like some good ole’ fashioned pollo rostizado (roasted chicken breast). Served with grilled onions, camote purée y chichilo.

Some dishes will have hidden insects.

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The chef told Latin Glam that the key to breaking taboo is to incorporate insects like you would any other food. Hide the face.

“If we don’t have the surprise element, if we see the insects and decide to engage with it, it makes it a little less crazy.”

Although some people are here for the crazy.

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I mean, who hasn’t bought salt and vinegar grasshoppers at your local Sloan’s Ice Cream Shoppe as a teenager just to be edgy? 🙋🏽

Now you can be adult, fancy edgy at The Black Ant.

ZAGAT also rates their brunch as Top 10 spots in NYC.

CREDIT: @theblackantnyc / Instagram

Don’t worry. These eggs have nothing crazy in them, unless you consider duck confit crazy, which you might if you decide to google it.

Claro, tiene elotes.

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These come with spicy mayo and crab meat, so they’re a little next level. But they’re still our favorite comfort food no matter how you dress them up.

No te preocupes: you can get American things like avocado toast, too.

CREDIT: @theblackantnyc / Instagram

Although, támbien lo tiene crab meat. Vegetarians can opt for the Peaches and Cream french toast, which is made of brioche, manchego toast, roasted peaches and cream, pistachios and lavender honey.

Let’s talk about dessert real quick.

CREDIT: @theblackantnyc / Instagram

Because they offer “mousse de chocolate,” which is exactly what it sounds like, but with avocado puree, a cacao crumble and coconut sorbet.

Plus, uji matcha churros?! It’s topped with prickly pear gel. I’m drooling.

Pues, dale and get yourself some merengue if you’re not ready for buggy food.

CREDIT: @theblackantnyc / Instagram

Whatever your dietary restrictions or expansions are, The Black Ant has something for you. Si se puede, support your local authentic Latino owned restaurants, whether it’s your corner taco stand or the gourmet ant specialty Mexican restaurant in the East Village.

Happy crunching.


READ: 5 Things You Should Know About The Iconic Mezcal Worm

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