After two years the Whanganui men behind Tres Hombres chilli sauce are ready to take their small business to the next level.
Alex Loggie, Frank Bristol and Paul Anderson, who all work in mental health, got the idea of making chilli sauce together "after one too many beverages" two years ago.
"It's a very social enterprise," Bristol said.
Board meetings happen at the Rutland Hotel, and the three are fond of a joke. The sauce they cooked up before last Christmas was called Rudolph's Revenge.
Loggie had been growing chillies in his backyard and making sauces for years, Bristol had extensive horticulture experience and Anderson had a producing olive orchard.
They sowed the first chilli seeds in Bristol's unused plastic greenhouses in Papaiti Rd in November 2017. They have a commercial kitchen there, certified by Whanganui District Council.
At first they cooked up "whatever they fancied", Loggie said. They sold their first sauces at the Whanganui River Markets in May 2018.
Since then Loggie has worked with Grant Kitchen, the chef at Palmerston North's Brew Union brewery and bar, to develop a range of three core sauces, each of which can have a brewing by-product added, giving a malty flavour.
The three are Gentle Annie, a mild, pear-based sauce, Aftershock, with kiwifruit and limes, and Lahar with tomatoes and the Monty's Surprise apples discovered by Whanganui's Mark Christensen.
Tres Hombres will also cook special batches to order.
Ingredients are all local and high-quality, Loggie said. Richard Austin grows the pears, John Goodare grows the kiwifruit, Anderson grows the limes and lemons, Paul Laugesen grows the tomatoes and Christensen makes the apple cider vinegar.
"There's nothing cheap and nasty," Loggie said.
"We are actually making a proper sauce here. It stands head and shoulders above for quality and provenance."
The sauces all have flavours that taste good and complement food, Loggie said, as well as adding heat. Lahar is like a spicy tomato sauce, and he has paired Aftershock with pies and fillet steak.
Their product got a fantastic reception and sold well at the Manawatū Food Show in late November, he said. They are sold online at www.treshombres.nz, at Brew Union in Palmerston North, and in Whanganui at the riverside market, Gracias Mexican and Bin Inn.
Currently any profit is ploughed back into the business but Loggie would like to move the hobby/social enterprise to a point where it can pay part-time wages. The key to that will be getting more orders, especially from retailers.