WITH the oppressively warm weather, one of the last things a person may want to eat is something spicy. But it will not hurt to try enhancing a dish with a dash of pepper sauce once in a while.

Founded by Edmund Mcllhenny at Avery Island, Lousina in 1868, Tabasco sauce is made from hand-picked chillies, a pinch of salt, and a splash of fine vinegar. The salted mash is fermented, filtered and vinegar added, then left to ferment for a further 28 days before decanting in bottles. Tabasco sauce is distributed worldwide.

Importer-distributor SYSU International, Inc. held its third TasteSetters workshop, with the theme “Flavour Your World,” on April 3. There local culinary enthusiasts and food entrepreneurs were given the chance to develop new dishes using a specific ingredient — in this case, Tabasco’s hot products — to discover new ways of using it.

“SYSU developed the workshop series as a part of its mission to develop a noteworthy program that elevates the art and science of food. SYSU is making this possible through a solid win-win partnership not only with the international brands we carry, but also with food industry stakeholders,” SYSU International, Inc. product and business development director Sandy Go Cu was quoted as saying in a press release.

SYSU International, Inc.’s trade marketing manager Marjorie Cleofas told BusinessWorld that the workshop’s goal is to “tease the minds from the industry and our clientele to create new product innovations,” adding that after the workshop, their team “looks forward to the concepts and ideas that would come out of it.”

During the workshop at the Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Mandaluyong City, SYSU also introduced Tabasco’s dry mixes which are now available in the Philippines, in the dish innovations.

The dry mixes are Dry Red Flavoring which delivers heat before flavor, Crushed Red Pepper which has the highest level of spiciness, and Original Red Spray Dry Flavoring which delivers a sour flavor heat.

Tabasco Regional Director Kan Cheung noted that the dry mixes may be used for seasoning, baking, processed goods, and sauce.

What was famously used as hot sauce since 1868 is used in different ways around the world.

According to Tabasco’s international corporate chef Gary Evans, Tabasco sauce is mixed with rice In the Middle East; added to spaghetti, Bloody Mary cocktails, and oysters in Europe; while in Asia, it is used on pastas and pizzas. “It’s all about making something specific and slightly different,” he told BusinessWorld.

“Some people have a fear of tasting Tabasco because they think it’s going to be too spicy. I say to people that Tabasco is like salt. If you add too much salt to something, it becomes salty. But are you scared of using salt? No. Because you know that adding a small amount at the beginning, [and try it] and think if it needs more,” Mr. Evans added. “If you’re cooking a dish, you add a few drops (of Tabasco Sauce) at the beginning. You see how that goes. But don’t be scared of it.”

During the workshop, members of the media were served dishes made with the dry mixes such as kimchi with Red Spray Dry Flavoring, and spicy pizza and ramen with Dry Red Flavoring. As someone who is not fond of spicy dishes, I tasted only a small hint of spice without the dish losing its original flavor.

“We’re not about overpowering the flavor, we’re all about enhancing the flavor,” Mr. Evans said.

For inquiries on the TasteSetters workshop, contact 920-5291 loc. 333, or e-mail sysu_industrial@sysuinc.com.ph. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman