A great hot sauce requires fresh ingredients, a blend of original flavors, and a balance between spice and texture. By that measure, Ghost Scream is among the hottest and best. The San Clemente-based hot sauce, which offers a fresh mix of heat, flavor, and fresh ingredients, is on the verge of becoming a household name. Ghost Scream founders Matt and Deandra Sisson created the sauce after scouring the world in search of new flavors. “People have always been attracted to things that make their adrenaline pump, like thrill rides and diving boards,” Sisson says. “They love the heat, and they love to sweat.”
If you don’t already know what the ghost chili–aka Bhut Jolokia–is, it’s one of the hottest peppers on the planet. Hence the name on the bottle, “Ghost Scream.” It has a charred smoky flavor, and while more tangy than you might expect, it packs a heat that hits the back of your throat with notes of fresh onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Original Ghost Scream isn’t too thick or too runny, and could pair well with a ribeye steak or fire roasted vegetables; the Sissons also recommend the sauce for pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, and eggs.
“It’s really hot but flavorful,” Sisson says. “There’s a lot of chemistry involved to extract flavors and build layers. A lot of sauces are made from powders with no fresh ingredients. There’s no depth in those. For us, the advantage of me cooking, is we take flavors and make them taste authentic and delicious.”
The original Ghost Scream sauce was crowned world champion in 2016 at the New York City Hot Sauce Expo. Ghost Scream is one of just two sauces to ever win the award; the other sauce–Dirty Dick’s–has one twice. Matt says the only reason Dirty Dick’s won in 2017 and 2018 is because he didn’t submit a Ghost Scream hot sauce to the competition.
The New York Times also wrote an article praising Sisson’s newest sauce, the Vindaloo Curry. Ghost Scream’s Vindaloo Curry Sauce blends one of the world’s spiciest peppers–the Moruga Scorpion Pepper–with rich coconut and sweet honey to make a savory heat. Sisson says every chef reveres the Wednesday food section of the Times as the pinnacle of what’s going on in the food world. “Any chef worth his salt, if he’s lucky, will get a blurb in the Times,” he advises.
To Sisson, the Times article from July 30th, 2018 was an affirmation that his sauce was king. He hopes to soon expand his business to the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Many sauces are made from cheap chili powders, and Sisson thinks that’s a problem. In his opinion, people are going to shift toward small-batch hot sauces just as they shifted toward craft beer. “People got sick and tired of drinking crappy beer, and I think it’s going the same way with great sauces,” he says. “People are tired of crappy sauces made from chili powders, and want better ingredients. Spice done properly enhances a meal. When it’s not, it’ll overpower the food.”