I had the privilege of speaking with CEO, Owner, salsa maker, Entrepreneur, and overall amazing woman, Adela Durazo about her business, Durazo's Poco Loco Specialty Salsas. Adela and her to-die-for, growing food line, are truly special. Throughout this interview I was able to get to know a little more about Adela, and get confirmation that food truly is better when made with love.
See below my interview with the amazing Adela Durazo
Describe your business
I'm a small salsa company and I'm small by choice. I like to keep it small, because it allows me to be one on one with my customers. I like that they know they are talking to the person that actually made the salsa they are buying, the one that has perfected the recipes and spent hours in the kitchen to prepare it for them. I've actually had offers 3 different times to grow into something bigger, but I like my business just the way it is.
What made you decide to open this business?
I started working with my father at age 13. He had his own architectural firm. I was always driven and had a strong work ethic. When I wasn't at school I was with him, trying to learn the family business, absorbing things like a sponge.
I tried to deviate from the family business when I started college and majored in criminal law, but soon realized my father's business needed me, so I switched to a business major. I spent 21 years working with my father, then, when he passed away suddenly, I was offered positions at 4 other architectural firms. I decided to accept the position at the largest firm because having spent the previous 21 years working with my father, it was something I had yet to experience. Once I took the position it opened my eyes to the corruption that can occur in these large firms, and it made me appreciate even more the time I had worked with my father, who was an honest man who ran an honest company. I stayed with the new firm for 5 years, but wasn't happy.
During this time I had always made salsa as gifts for my friends. Over time, I had more and more requests for it, and it got me thinking that maybe this could be "a thing", or even "the thing" I'm supposed to be doing. One day I decided to take a crack at selling the salsa. My first attempt was at a craft fair and we completely sold out. Once that happened we decided to try it again at another craft fair, and once again we sold out! At that point we knew we had something but didn't feel like a craft fair was quite the right venue for us. One day we came across a flyer for a farmer's market (keep in mind that at this time, farmer's markets weren't popular like they are today), and we decided to contact the facilitator to see if we could be a part of it... It grew quickly from there, and we started at one farmers market downtown, which eventually led to 5 different ones.
So to answer your question, it was a combination of many things that led me to open this business. From getting my business degree, and learning a good work ethic from my father.. To seeing what I didn't want in a large business, and loving the integrity that comes with owning a small business. Recognizing my love of cooking, and how much I love making people happy with my food. All of these things came together to guide me in forming my business.
Why did you choose this profession?
This profession chose me.
I learned to cook from my ex father in law. When the family was over, I would sit in the kitchen and watch him cook for hours. It's my passion. If and when the passion goes away it's time to stop. It's not about the money, it's about the food.
What drives you to do what you do? What motivates you?
I think it's in my blood... my father is French and my mother is Mexican. Combine those two and you can end up with a healthy love for the culinary arts.
I love to see the expression on someone's face when they first try my salsa, and I can just see how much they love it. It makes all of the hard hours of work in the kitchen with those hot chilis totally worth it! That's my motivation.
I know you have expanded your products past just salsas now, what all do you offer?
Well I started off originally with just 3 fruit salsas.. peaches, pineapples, and mangos, which were mild, hot, and stupid hot. I later began making a Pico De Gallo, and then added a Salsa ranchera. Naturally I ended up added a guacamole, made a little different than your traditional guacamole, which I think gives it a better texture and taste. After that I decided to do a crab and shrimp ceviche which was so good that I decided to make a dip version of it as well. Then came the spicy crema, which is my take on a mexican crema, and can be added to just about any plate to enhance the flavor. Last, I decided to add 2 seasonal items, and I now sell a watermelon, cucumber, and jicama salad for the summer months- May through September, and a roasted green chili cheese cornbread, made with hatch green chilis for the winter months. (Interviewer side note- I have tried almost all of these, and they are AMAZING. I can eat spicy crema on every meal, and the cornbread is to-die-for!)
I have to ask... what made you decide to name your REALLY hot salsa, stupid hot??
I was trying to name it, and I asked my husband at the time to try it. I told him not to think about it, and to say the first thing that came to mind. The first words that came out of his mouth was , dang that's stupid hot. The rest is history.
Tell me about your new bloody mary mix!
What was it like when you first started?
I was the only salsa person at the time. Then there was the salsa craze where all that mattered was the heat. I knew it was a phase, and I sat back and waited. I always put the flavor over the heat. Heat is good but not without flavor. We were making salsa through the recession and we held on. Even when I wasn't making any money, I kept doing it. Because it's what I love and it's what I do.
What is something most people don't know about the business?
A lot of people think I have employees. A lot of people don't realize that I do absolutely everything by myself. I'll work through the night to get things done and will never miss a show.
What would your customers say they love most about your business?
They love my salsa obviously, but besides that they love that I always have a smile on my face. I'm always in a good mood, and I'm happy to see them. I always make my food from the heart. My food is made with love. I believe that my attitude affects my food. If my head isn't in a good place, I will walk away and come back to it when I feel good about it again.
Having met you, and now having talked to you more, you seem like a very happy, grounded person. What's your secret??
Well I'm a very spiritual person, and a glass half full kind of girl. I wake up every day grateful for my life and everything that's in it. I truly believe that the universe will always provide me with what I need, so there's no need to worry. I live my life feeding people and making them happy, and that makes me truly happy.
Is there anything else you would like to add? Anything important to you that I might not have touched on?
The whole purpose in my journey in food is to educate people. I want to show people the right things to eat and the right way to eat. That's why I choose to work in a farmers market, and more specifically, the Heirloom Farmers Market. The younger we can get you to come to a farmers market, the earlier we can get you eating right. I see people that were coming here as kids, now coming back as adults, and bringing their own children, and that gives me hope. The earlier we can teach children how to eat better food, the food they need to be healthy, the more they can pass that along to future generations. By making these changes, like eating grass-fed beef, or free range eggs, and truly fresh organic fruits and vegetables, we can start eliminating a lot of the health problems we currently face. There's a healthier way to be, and I'm happy to be a part of it.
Note from Interviewer Tanya Barnett
It was truly an honor to get the opportunity to interview Adela. She has such a great energy about her, and her work ethic is amazing. Last but not least... her food is AMAZING! I am addicted to the hot salsa, spicy crema, ceviche, and most recently the crab and shrimp dip and bloody mary mix. I look forward to visiting her weekly and stocking up!