Mammoth’s Jon Karr scores as his Carolina Reaper pepper hot sauce becomes a local hit
“I kinda feel a little bit like a drug dealer. I ride around town on my bike and people ask if I’m holding,” says Mammoth’s Jon Karr. “Then I pull a little bottle of hot sauce out of my pocket and they’re like yeah! I need my fix!”
Karr has been making waves with his Karrnage Hot Sauce, a vinegar-and-sugar based concoction featuring Carolina Reaper peppers. The Carolina Reaper was bred by “Smokin” Ed Currie and is certified as the hottest pepper in the world (1,569,300 Scoville Heat Units—for comparison, a jalapeño ranges from 2,500 to 10,000) by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013.
“It’s quite an endorphin rush when you’re really getting into it,” says Karr, who has cooked at “basically every restaurant in town,” and makes the Karrnage sauce out of Mike Coco’s kitchen at Thai’d Up.
“It’s basically a day of torture” for the other employees, says Karr, of the days he whips up a big batch for distribution.
“I wear a little ski mask and I have a respirator and a pair of goggles. I had to buy equipment for the rest of the people who work there, because I cook the stuff while the restaurant is open.”
He says that when he runs the dirty pots and pans through the dishwasher “it sends a spicy vapor” throughout the joint.
He first got the idea while working at Thai’d Up. “People would come in asking for the spiciest stuff we had, and all I had were Thai chilis, which didn’t satisfy some of them,” says Karr.
He then started working at Rafters and “people started coming out of the woodwork” when they learned they could get their fix there.