David VanWye grew up in the 1960s relishing the chili sauce his mother and grandmother made for family gatherings. The recipe was developed more than 100 years ago on a wood-burning stove in a Hendricks County farmhouse using Indiana-grown tomatoes.
When he happened across the handwritten directions following his mother’s death in 2011, he had to make a batch.
With the taste still so satisfying, he started making it for friends, personalizing it with a few all-natural, gluten- and fat-free tweaks to enhance the unique blend of flavors. Tasters became fans who encouraged the Indiana Artisan to produce it commercially.
Amazing Hazel’s Gourmet Chili Sauce was born about 114 years after the birth of its namesake, David’s grandmother. As a child, Hazel helped her family make sauces that they sold at local fairs and annual pig roasts to help make ends meet during the Great Depression.
Today, David finds the thick, salsa-like sauce well suited as a pantry staple, saying it can be used as a condiment or ingredient. “It’s great on everything from scrambled eggs to burgers and meatloaf. It can be added to crockpot favorites and pork shoulder or as the base for great-tasting chili,” he says.
True to his and the sauce’s Hoosier heritage, Dave uses Red Gold tomatoes from Indiana as the base for every batch.
“It’s a family recipe, and the comments I continue to receive from people who try it for the first time inspire me,” he says. “I hear things like ‘Can’t stop eating it’ or ‘We love this on and in everything.’”
Lessons learned during the Great Depression stuck with Dave. He disliked discarding the tomato-infused water that was left after the chili sauce was finished, so he developed another product worthy of the Indiana Artisan designation: Amazing Hazel’s Bloody Mary Mix.
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