On one of the coldest days of the year, Ben Maniscalco is heating things up with his spicy Benito's Hot Sauces.
"Benito's is a fresh, Vermont craft hot sauce," Maniscalco said.
All of the hot sauces are made with Vermont grown chiles sourced from four local farms. From the more timid peppers like habaneros and jalapenos, to bold and spicy -- like ghost and paper lantern peppers.
Reporter Gina Bullard: What makes yours stand out?
Ben Maniscalco: It's salt free and there's not the junk you'd find in condiments, plus it's a fresh vegetable puree.
There's also no artificial preservatives, gums or starches in Benito's sauces -- just fresh vegetables like garlic, carrots and peppers. On this day, Benito's Mango Habanero is in the works.
Maniscalco grew up with more pasta sauce than hot sauce on the menu. His passion for the spicy stuff developed over time. What began as a hobby is now a growing business.
"I make over 17,000 bottles of hot sauce a year," he said.
And as a one man band -- that suits Maniscalco just fine. As for the name...
"Years ago I was working at a Mexican restaurant and there was a lot of Costa Rican gentleman who would call me Benito and they'd try my hot sauce and they say, 'Oh, Benito's hot sauce,' and it just kind of stuck," he said.
Now it's time for our taste test -- from the mild, to the hot stuff.
Maniscalco said none of his sauces will set "set your mouth on fire."
It's all a matter of personal preference. Some like it hot, others -- not so much. Regardless, Maniscalco said Vermont provides the perfect kitchen for his business. "I like that here in Vermont I can go with an idea work off my own ingenuity and support local food systems at the same time," he said.
Benito's is turning up the heat with its Made in Vermont hot sauces.