Some Like It Spicy!
Event Solutions had the incredible opportunity to produce Huy Fong’s annual company picnic/employee appreciation party at their main manufacturing facility, based in Irwindale, California, a small, fully-incorporated city located in the San Gabriel Valley. Beforehand, we also got the chance to take a private tour in order to prep for the big day. The verdict? Sriracha is not just a condiment – it’s a way of life (if you don’t believe us, click here).
About Huy Fong & Sriracha
If you happen to dine out often, or even occasionally, you may have noticed something unique, intriguing and peculiar springing up on restaurant tables faster than you can say “pass the salt and pepper”: tall, bright green-nozzled plastic bottles filled with a spritely red sauce akin to ketchup. However, you’d be wrong if you guessed this was just that popular tangy-sweet sauce many Americans know and love (and use on everything, from potatoes to pizza).
This is No Ketchup
On the contrary: this is no ketchup, but rather a different kind of condiment that combines fresh red chilies, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar for a delightfully spicy flavor. This, my friends, is sriracha (pronounced sir-RAW-cha) At this point, you’ve probably had your fair share of the deliciously kicky-salty-slightly-sweet sauce, or at the very least, have heard the name before. Sriracha’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past few years, thanks to its manufacturer Huy Fong Foods Inc., Huy Fong’s fantastic employees, and the company’s generous founder David Tran. Both Tran and employees involved in the day-to-day operations are truly the backbone of this zesty flavor empire.
The Culinary Sauce Empire
Tran’s culinary sauce empire has been growing steadily since the mid-1970s. After bravely traveling to the United States from his native Vietnam on the Huey Fong, the boat and namesake of our beloved hot sauce, he began peddling his creation to Los Angeles Chinatown restaurant owners out of glass jars. The name “sriracha” originates from a small sub-district in Thailand known as Si Racha. Sauces very similar to modern sriracha are manufactured both in Si Racha and other locales throughout Southeast Asia. The rooster symbol that has become synonymous with the Huy Fong brand is an homage to David Tran’s Zodiac sign – he was born in the year of the rooster!
The Too Hot Tour
Tran’s many years of hard work and dedication have paid off; an estimated 20 million bottles of the rooster-labeled sauce are sold annually, and are shipped from Huy Fong’s massive 650,000 square-foot facility! It’s hard to describe the incredibly grand scale of this processing facility, even after our tour. Mechanized machinery work seamlessly throughout all facets of production (which ALL happens under one roof, by the way). Chilies mature in giant blue vats until they’re ready for the harvesting season, which happens from early September to mid-October.
Too Hot Two
After the chilies are ready to be ground into the spicy red paste, they are made into a basic chili mash. They are then sent to the warehouse until they are returned to make the finished product. Before the sauce is filled, the drums are brought to the mixing room where garlic, and/or sugar and xanthan gum are added to make the final product. The sauce is bottled in plastic bottles crafted on-site, and emblazoned with the company’s logo in the last step (seriously, check out how cool the bottling process looks!) The bottles are spun at high speeds to stretch and elongate the plastic into the signature sriracha bottle shape.
Returning the F(l)avor!
On another (but equally important note), the Huy Fong crew knows how to treat its guests right. We were chauffeured around the facilities during our hour-long tour on custom bright red golf carts (peep the license plate!).
We were feeling the hospitality! As is only right, we had to return the favor by producing a fantastic employee appreciation day from the ground up.
The Picnic Heats Up
Let’s start with the food (of course). Our heat lovers opted for our deluxe cook-out service, which includes mouthwatering charbroiled hamburgers and cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, BBQ chicken breasts, and all-beef hot dogs. Our grill master felt like just another employee as he helped kick off the picnic by grilling over a real oak wood fire. A separate condiment station included ketchup, mustard, relish, and, of course… well, you know. Fresh sides and delicious baked goods lined the tented tables for dessert.
Our group games included a Mega Field Competition Zone which added an extra level of buzz and excitement! Guests had the opportunity to participate in our Bingo Bonanza Blowout, which includes traditional bingo mixed with corporate and entertainment trivia, a fast-paced water balloon toss, a hilarious potato sack race, the classic hula hoop contest, and much more.
Our Competition Zone yields some pretty sweet rewards. Guests had the opportunity to win awesome prizes – like popcorn machines, RC Helicopters, BBQ sets, and more! Let’s not forget about the inflatable area! The Midway Sports Booths, which include an inflatable basketball hoop, strike zone speed pitch golf, and the quarterback toss, provided fun and laughs for all ages throughout the duration of the event.
For the Adventurous
Guests also had the chance to try more adventurous activities: the rock wall and zip line allowed attendees to scratch their adrenaline junkie itch. For those who love a good thrill, both options are awesome additions to any company picnic or outdoor corporate event. All in all, we’d say this picnic was a smokin’ hot success! We even had to bring in the tents and hook up misting systems to help keep this employee appreciation picnic cool.
Good, Clean (and Spicy) Fun
That’s the thing: the best thing about this entire experience was getting the opportunity to interact with the warm, welcoming and highly knowledgeable Huy Fong staff. It’s no secret that this company cares about its employees, which is why, of course, they came to us to produce a celebration to honor achievements and have some good, clean (and, well, and maybe a little spicy) fun.
A huge thanks to Huy Fong for allowing us into their wonderfully flavorful, unique and culinarily exciting world – we can’t wait to come back. Next time, though, we’ll take two glasses of water with our sriracha sample instead of one, please!