Ray's spark, started Polish Fire...
My inspiration for making and selling Polish Fire comes from wanting to share something that brings pleasure and joy to eating. I believe the most revolutionary thing we can do is grow our own food and share our food with others.
Nourishing food and home cooking were an important part of my Polish-American upbringing. I learned my way around the kitchen at a young age by watching my mother, Virginia. We didn’t have much in material things, and what we had we shared. That is how you live, you share. Mom fed a lot of people great food with simple ingredients. She did it without cookbooks, cooking shows or internet access. While nourishing, we had little spice or zest in our meals.
In 1974, at age 18, I moved to Ann Arbor for college and started cooking for myself daily for the first time. Lori Anne Hennegar introduced me to Clancy’s Fancy Hot Sauce. Clancy’s Fancy is great. It blew my taste buds, blew my mind, and changed my life. Its flavor makes it different than other hot sauces. I owe a lot to Clancy’s Fancy.
As my love for and experience with cooking grew, I yearned for a hot sauce that could be used in a wide variety of situations and with different types of food. I wanted a hot sauce that had as much flavor as it did heat, and very importantly I wanted one that didn’t burn going down. The only “hot” ingredient in Polish Fire is cayenne powder, a mucosal stimulant, not an irritant. Over the years I honed and refined my own recipe. Around 1995 I discovered Ume plum vinegar and began adding it to the recipe and it all came together. I started calling it Polish Fire.
Eventually I started putting simple home made labels on bottles and giving them to family and friends. As demand increased, my wife Viki began helping and we started selling bottles to cover the costs and time involved in making it. Polish Fire has spread by word of mouth ever since.