Where to buy Sav's Salsa.
Sav's Salsa is availabe in 45 locations in Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas.
It all started in 2011. I had recently left my job at UPS and moved to Colorado. Deep down inside of me there was something that would not let me stay at UPS. People thought I was crazy for leaving such a good job, they were right. I couldn’t stand the thought of looking back one day knowing that I didn’t go for it. Go for what you ask? That I did not know, but I was determined to find out. I knew God had something bigger and better for me.
In 2012 while living in Boulder, Colorado I prayed to God a prayer. “God give me a business of my own and I will give you all the glory.” I prayed this with all of my heart and truly meant it. I knew that if I was going to do and become anything worthwhile in life then getting God involved was the only way that I could truly achieve it.
I eat eggs every morning. My favorite thing to eat with eggs is salsa. I would buy salsa from the store specifically for my eggs. After about a week of the same salsa I would want something different. Eventually I ran out of options. It was there in Boulder, Colorado that I made the decision to start making my own salsa from scratch. I knew nothing about how to make salsa. The first time I made it I bought tomato sauce, jalapenos, some other basic ingredients, and I knew that it had green stuff in it. I searched through the ingredient drawer and found some green stuff, parsley and oregano. Needless to say, that first week I had spicy Italian eggs every morning. In a way it was a huge success because I immediately learned what not to use in salsa.
My goal with salsa was to just enjoy my eggs every morning. I never intended on selling salsa so there was no pressure or timeline to get good at it. I knew that I was never going to stop eating eggs so I knew that every week I would just try again. Naturally my intention was to make the best salsa in the world, not for financial gain, just to enjoy my eggs.
In the fall of 2012 I and my friend Patrick Richardson moved from Boulder to Fraser, Colorado. We got jobs at Winter Park Ski Resort. This is where we met our new friend Nick Watts and lived in an A frame home in the mountains. In the summer of 2013 I was still making salsa, but by then I had figured out a few things about it. One week a few of our friends from Louisiana came up and visited. I made a small batch of salsa and pulled out all the stops on this one. For some reason when I made this specific batch somehow it was the best I had made. When my friend Jon B from Louisiana tried it, he was so impressed by it that he said with excitement, “Man I would sell this salsa!” That was the first time that the thought actually crossed my mind of selling it. I had no recipe then, I just put a little of this and a little of that in it.
2014 comes around and we are back in Louisiana. The thought of selling the salsa was a seed that was planted into my mind and it slowly grew. I knew that the Poke Salad Festival in Blanchard was coming up and we (me, Patrick, and Jon B) decided we would sell the salsa in it. At this time I still had no definite recipe because I just knew about what went in it. I had less than two months until the festival so I started measuring out the ingredients and making small batches. With each batch I slowly narrowed the recipe down, a little more of this, a little less of that. From the very beginning of my salsa endeavor, I had a vision of how I wanted the salsa to taste. I was finally narrowing the down the recipe. After two years of making salsa, I finalized my Original Recipe! I finally had a salsa that I never got tired of eating on my eggs. I don’t say that because it is my salsa. I say that because if at any point in time I got tired of eating it on my eggs I would have adjusted the recipe. That was the goal, to enjoy my eggs every morning without getting tired of the salsa.
After I established the Original Recipe we had to come up with a name for it. When Patrick and I lived in the mountains he started calling me Sav. Patrick is really good at coming up with names, he is very creative. I said Pat, I want to name it Sav something, and he said, “Sav’s Salsa!” I said that’s it! A couple weeks after we named it that I realized something very cool, S.A.V. is also my dad’s initials - Steven Arthur Van Ness. It was like it was meant to be.
It wasn’t until the fall of 2016 that I put my foot down and established Sav’s Salsa as a business. 2017 was our break out year. We started out doing farmers markets and different events. When I made the Original Recipe it was originally made to be spicy, and not everyone likes spicy. When we let people sample it I found that some people wanted something milder and some people wanted something spicier. This forced me to have to go back to the basics of figuring out new recipes. I racked my brain out trying to figure it out but if I changed the recipe then I changed the flavor and we just couldn’t change the flavor. Then one day it hit me, we don’t have to change the recipe, we just need to change what peppers we use. The Original Recipe uses Jalapeno and crushed red pepper as its source of heat. I personally wanted something a little hotter. So I went to the grocery and discovered the Serrano pepper. I replaced the Jalapeno with the Serrano pepper and made one jar and when I tasted the result I was blown away. It was the best tasting salsa that I had ever tasted. The heat was perfect. It was a good hot, not over powering. The best part about it was the flavor. It was like my recipe was designed for the Serrano pepper. It didn’t take any credit away from the Original Recipe, because the Original was had its own great flavor with the Jalapeno. Now I had a good hot that I could sell.
The hardest thing I had to figure out with making salsa was making a medium and a mild. I went to the grocery and got all kinds of mild peppers. I would take the Original Recipe and replace the Jalapeno and crushed red pepper with different combinations of milder peppers. I soon realized that I didn’t have to put one pepper in there but I could blend different peppers to get different flavors. I gained some ground with the Mini Sweet peppers. It is a mild pepper with really good flavor. The pepper by itself though didn’t have that max flavor that I was looking for. One thing I learned when figuring out new flavors is that finding a certain flavor is more important than finding a certain heat level. I was more interested in maxing out flavor than just having something mild. If you see a Sav’s Salsa label on a jar that means that it is “Sav’s certified”. To be Sav’s certified means it has to be the best flavor. I had a break through when I blended the Mini Sweet pepper with the Serrano pepper and Jalapeno. It took much trial and error to get to this point but persistence paid off. I kept tweaking the pepper ratio until one day I found the perfect ratio. I created a new flavor and it was absolutely amazing. The only thing was it was slightly spicier than a traditional medium. What should we name it then? When I was younger I had a friend named Trent Daugherty. One time I asked him what shirt size he had on and he said extra medium. I laughed so hard because how could that be! When we were trying to figure out a name for this flavor, naturally I said Extra Medium. No one in the salsa game has an Extra Medium flavor. I knew it would be a best seller too. The flavor is so good.
Now we have Extra Medium, Original Recipe, and Serrano Hot. The one thing we lacked was a Mild. This was the hardest flavor for me to design. I did some research on mild peppers and I discovered the Anaheim pepper. I did some experimenting with the pepper, blending it with different peppers. Through trial and error I finally figured out the right ratio of these three peppers – Anaheim, Mini Sweet, and Jalapeno. The most important thing though was finding the perfect flavor, not the perfect heat level. Fortunately this time though, the perfect flavor happened to be a mild salsa. I now had four flavors, Mild, Extra Medium, Original Recipe, and Serrano Hot. Until this day that is my starting line up! The first three flavors are our best sellers, but my personal favorite is still the Serrano hot. It is perfect for my eggs in the morning.
My goal was to make a salsa that I would never get tired of just for my eggs and Serrano Hot still stands at the top of my list. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like other people’s salsa either. I love other people’s salsa. I never feel like I am in competition with other salsas. God blessed me with this business. When I asked God for a business in 2012, little did I know then that He gave me one that very year. I never even knew it. Looking back one thing I now realize is that whenever I started making salsa from scratch, I had a vision of how I wanted it to taste. I never really knew how I got that desired flavor and now I give God all the glory for it. He gave me a seed, I planted the seed, watered the seed, and in due time Sav’s Salsa grew out of it. I trust in God for every step of this journey.