22 Aug 2017
Dingo Sauce Co., established in mid-2016, is a family-run, artisan chilli sauce company based in North Fremantle. The man behind the company, Leigh Nash (pictured top), is a career chef with over 20 years’ experience, a penchant for Asian flavours, and a passion for all things chilli. Here, we get the lowdown on his spicy new venture.
TBT: How did you find yourself in the hot sauce industry?
LN: I love to experiment at home and began cooking sauce as a hobby, combining my love of Asian cuisine with all things chilli. Initially I gave the sauce away as gifts to family and friends and then about three years ago, I was roped into donating some sauces, chutneys and chilli jams to my daughter’s school – North Fremantle Primary School – to sell at some fundraising events. The sauce got such fantastic feedback that in mid 2016 we finally decided to go the next step and create food standard compliant nutrition labels, and design a brand and logo with the help of super-talented North Freo locals, Insomnia design, register his business name and actually start selling the sauce.
I continued to work as the Executive Chef at Vans in Cottesloe and Gill Street Cafe in Mosman Park, which are both owned by Kevin McCabe. Kevin and I have a great working relationship and Kevin has been super supportive of my sauce business since its inception in mid 2016. Because of this, Kevin was more than happy to facilitate my transition from my role as General Manager/Executive Chef of Vans to Executive Chef only in late 2016. This has allowed me the extra time to cultivate my sauce business. In addition, my wife Ailbhe takes care of the business side of things to allow me to do what I do best – cook!
TBT: What inspired you to create sriracha?
LN: I’ve always been a massive chilli fan and as a chef, I’ve always gravitated towards cooking with chilli. I’ve used many different types of srirachas over the years and to be honest, I was sick of buying imported sauces, or sauces full of preservatives. I decided to try my hand at my own blend using locally grown produce and products that are preservative and additive free. When I began experimenting I really felt the fermented flavour of the sriracha I was creating using quality WA ingredients was better than anything else on the market and this inspired me to take things to the next level and actually sell the sauce commercially.
TBT: What’s the story behind the company name?
LN: The ‘Dingo’ brand is synonymous with our home town of North Fremantle. The Dingo is an iconic symbol of the Allied Flour Mill overlooking Leighton Beach and the Indian Ocean where we live. The home of Dingo Sauce is literally in the shadow of the old mill so we loved that we were able to put our own stamp and interpretation on such emotive local imagery.
Before we went public with the sauce we had our graphic designers from Insomnia Design, also in North Freo, re-imagine the Dingo. We’ve actually redrawn the classic dog taking a step forward –what the Dingo did next, if you like! We’ve also focused on the word DINGO as the primary part of our logo, as opposed to the red dog as originally used by Allied Mills. We love that our brand name conjures up all the things we believe are best about our sauce – it’s a quality local product made with a lot of love in North Freo.
TBT: What separates your sauce from other srirachas on the market?
LN: As I said previously, we are the only 100 per cent Australian sriracha on the market and we believe our fermentation process, use of quality local ingredients and lack of preservatives, thickeners and artificial flavourings is what really sets up apart. At Dingo our focus is on creating a sustainable, ethical, artisan product. By definition this means we want to sell our product through small, independent businesses as opposed to large-scale, multi-national stores. We are all about supporting local every step of the way and that’s why we love to see our sauces in quality establishments (like The Black Truffle) which carefully curate their product ranges sharing a similar ethos.
TBT: We know you love chilli, so what’s the hottest thing you’ve ever eaten and did it get the better of you?
LN: The hottest thing I’ve ever eaten is probably a sauce called ‘Da Bomb – beyond insanity’ hot sauce. It’s made in the USA and was given to me as a present by an American friend. I didn’t check the ingredients list on the bottle so it took me a little by surprise – I’m pretty used to extremely hot chilli but this was a whole new level as it contained pure capsaicin extract. It blew my head off, gave me the cold sweats and stomach cramps. Let’s just say it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences!
TBT: What’s your favourite chilli and why?
LN: It’s very hard to pick one as there are so many amazing peppers out there but one of my favourite chillies would be the Bhut Orange Copenhagen. It’s got a lovely fruity flavour with a killer burn.
TBT: Where does Dingo Sauce Co head from here?
LN: At the moment we are busy working on new sauce varieties to expand our range and planning a couple of big events as we head into the spring/summer season. An exciting one is going to be the West Australian Smokin’ BBQ and Chilli Festival at Clancy’s in Fremantle on the Queen’s birthday long weekend, September 23-24. It will be a great opportunity for the local community to sample all the very best in local chilli produce right here on our doorstep, so we’re pretty excited to be hosting a Dingo stall on both days.
In our humble opinion, Dingo Sauce Co.’s sriracha is the best on the market. But don’t take our word for it. If you love hot sauce as much as we do, make sure you pick up a bottle at The Black Truffle (RRP $11.50).