Meet Bites With Spice, Divisadero's Local Spicemonger

Photos: Stephen Jackson / Hoodline
By Stephen Jackson - Published on November 05, 2014.
Divisadero Street just got spicier, and this time, it’s not because of a new restaurant. 
Last Friday, the local couple behind Bites with Spice, a unique seasoning company located out of a home office on Divisadero and Golden Gate streets, launched their product by going door-to-door to local markets, trying to get in the rub game. 

Hoodline caught up with aspiring spicemongers Jupiter Henry and Lauren Fletcher to learn a bit more about their home-cooked venture.

Jupiter and Lauren, now engaged, met back as Craigslist roommates in their Divisadero home in 2011. At the time, Jupiter owned a BBQ and DJ catering service called Funk N Chunk, and Lauren had serendipitously decided to start eating red meat after a long stint of Angus abstinence. 

Their relationship developed while cooking increasingly ambitious meals in their apartment. In fact, it was after a particularly complicated dinner party for six that Jupiter popped the question. “I proposed to her the next day,” said Jupiter. “We worked so well together I knew we needed to get married.”

Originally from Seattle, Jupiter learned to barbecue in a unique grilling community. “It’s pretty polarized. You are either into grilling three months out of the year, or you’re down to cook in the rain,” he told us. Jupiter credits this more esoteric community of grillmasters as a major source of his barbecue secrets.
Bites with Spice hopes to set itself apart from the crowd in the seasoning aisle with its efficiency. For just under $10, each tin comes with two small jars (.78 oz each): one a red blend based on a traditional BBQ rub, and the other a mixture of celery seed, mustard powder, onion powder, dried parsley and cayenne pepper. What makes the products unique, according to Jupiter and Lauren, is the fact that they are concentrated spice blends that contain no salt, pepper, or sugar. 

The logic behind this is that most people already have these and other pantry essentials such as ketchup, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. “It gives people the ability to modify. When you buy large amounts of rub, you are spending a lot on sugar, salt and pepper, and these are all things you most likely already have,” Lauren told us. Also, it gives people the choice to add the desired levels of these ingredients, although each pack comes with ten recipes for exactly how much to include to make a variety of different sauces, rubs, dips and dressings.
Jupiter tells us that another reason they leave out things like salt and sugar is that it makes each rub more versatile. For example, the recipe using the "red jar" rub for a rack of St. Louis pork spareribs contains sugar, but you can omit the sugar when using the "red jar" rub on chicken drumsticks, since the required higher temperature to do the bird right would cause the sugar to burn.
Since Friday, Jupiter and Lauren have already gotten their product onto shelves at Santa Clara Natural Organic Market on Scott and Haight, and are continuing to pitch the spices to other businesses in the area, including Green Earth and Falletti. They are both very excited to turn what started as a Christmas gift for their friends and families just last year into a small business they hope to see grow from the ground up.
If you're an individual who'd like to try out a kit, or a business interested in carrying the product, visit their website, or give Jupiter a call at (510) 384-6459.

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