One of many burgeoning entrepreneurs to have found their niche during the pandemic, Voodoo Mixology’s Blaze Davies has found a fond reception for his line of chili oils across Durango.
During the height of COVID-19 restrictions, Davies began making classic quinine tonics with uniquely added aromatics to pass his time during quarantine. When restaurants began to open back up he realized one of his favorite table condiments, chili oils, seemed to have disappeared from some restaurant tables.
“Me and a friend went to a Korean market, and it used to be that when you went into a classic Asian restaurant there was a chili oil sitting on the table,” Davies said. “I finally started to see chili oil on the tables again after COVID-19 started to slow down and decided that I really wanted to make it.”
Davies makes four different chili oils with the most mild of the bunch being the Hoodoo Hatch Chili Oil. The next most mild of the chili oils is the Garlic Gochu Chili Oil, which Davies says is more of a traditional Korean-style chili oil. The Smokey S.O.B., which stands for south of the border, is categorized as a mild chili oil that uses mostly ancho chilis for its flavor. Finally, he has a Habanero Orange Oil that combines toasted orange peels with habanero in an oil.
“I hate to say I have a favorite, but I’ve been using the habanero orange the most lately,” he said.
Davies said that most traditional chili oils usually opt for a vegetable oil as a base, but he uses avocado oil in all of his oils.
“I wanted to commit to really high ingredients for all of the oils, if you look at the ingredients list on the side of a jar you can see that there’s a commitment to quality,” he said.
Chili oils now make up the bulk of his sales, even though Davies started his business making tonics. The oils have become so popular that some local restaurants, like the Ore House, buy them to experiment with different dishes.
“I am a sucker for chili crunch. It’s probably my second favorite condiment next to mustard,” Ore House Culinary Director Regan Briggs said. “I’m most excited about the Hatch green chili and pine nut chili crunch because it’s so different, and you don’t really see something like that anywhere else.”
Briggs said the variety of oils that Davies makes allow for a lot of versatility when incorporated into sauces and aiolis.
Most of the experimental dishes Briggs makes with the voodoo chili oils are featured on Ore House’s secret menu, and if they become popular enough they make it onto the main menu.
“We have a QR code that we use for all the research and development dishes that we’re experimenting with, and that’s where I use a lot of those chili crunches,” Briggs said. “They always go on our vegetable sides.”
Davies is excited that chefs are using his chili oils, but has found most of his success at local specialty markets like Sunnyside Farms Market, Nature’s Oasis and Durango Natural Food Coop.
“The markets have been really supportive, they’ve been through products like crazy,” he said.
One of the most rewarding aspects of making the different oils is hearing about the many different ways people are using them, Davies said. He said he gets a significant amount of feedback online from people who are using the chili oils in new ways he never expected.
According to Davies, simple suggestions for the oils are to use it mixed in ground beef for burgers, or as a marinate. However, he said the oils are at their best when they’re applied after cooking.
“If you throw it on things like roasted vegetables or french fries, it’s really amazing. Throwing it on rice, noodles or meat after cooking is amazing,” he said. “If you try to coat something on the outside then you’re really burning the chilis.”
Davies even swears by his chili oils as an ice cream topping.
“You have to try it on ice cream. Especially the Smokey S.O.B with a sorbet,” he said. “There’s something about the tartness of the sorbet with that smokey flavor that’s just so good.”
While chili oil may seem like a strange ice cream topping, Davies isn’t the only person spicing up his sweets. Briggs said that the Ore House serves the Hoodoo Hatch oil over Cream Bean’s Honey Lavender ice cream, with a blue corn ice cream cone.
“I don’t know what you can’t use these chili oils with,” Davies said. “I’m sure there’s certain things that won’t work, but I haven’t found them yet.”