Feelin’ Saucy: The Valley's hot new edible

from Chip Valley Salsa Co. comes Bulldog Hot Sauce, GMO-free – and hot

Emily Kuhn, photos by Andrea Paulseth

A TRICKY MIX. Jim Lucas prepares some Bulldog Hot Sauce. He and his wife Alexis run the Chip Valley Salsa Company – formerly Chip Magnet Salsa – and will now branch out to include stuff like the GMO-free sauce.
A TRICKY MIX. Jim Lucas prepares some Bulldog Hot Sauce. He and his wife Alexis run
the Chip Valley Salsa Company – formerly Chip Magnet Salsa – and will now
branch out to include stuff like the GMO-free sauce.

Bulldog Hot Sauce owner Alexis Lucas says her hot sauce is named after her husband, Jim, who is known to family and friends as a “bulldog” in the kitchen. However, I suspect that anyone who meets Alexis will see her as a bit of a bulldog as well: She’s passionate about her business, committed to making products that are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and determined to sell only the kind of food she would serve her own family: real, wholesome, and delicious.

“Why would you make food to sell that you wouldn’t eat?” says Alexis, whose husband quit his job last April to work with her. “I couldn’t do it. I believe in eating real food.”

Making salsa comes naturally to Alexis; her grandmother taught her how to peel, blanch, and can tomatoes when she was just five years old and she’s been doing it ever since. Chip Valley Salsa became licensed in June 2012 and since then, Alexis and her eight employees have been producing salsas, barbeque sauces, and relishes from their Banbury Place facility for local retailers such as Gordy’s County Market, Mega Co-Op, Festival Foods, and regional locations throughout La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, Wausau, and the Twin Cities.

Bulldog Hot Sauce is an offshoot of Chip Valley Salsa Company, formerly known as Chip Magnet Salsa, which Alexis began three years ago after the salsa she’d been taking to the farmer’s market each week became wildly popular.

For the moment, the only Chip Valley Salsa products condiment lovers can find in stores are salsas and barbecue sauces. However, Alexis soon plans to make available not only additional salsa and barbecue sauce flavors, but Worchestershire sauce, ketchup, supper club sauces, and – of course – hot sauce.

“It seemed like a natural step,” says Alexis. “If we’re going to do barbecue sauce, we might as well do hot sauce. So, we spent a day in the kitchen and it turned out fantastic!”

Chip Valley Salsa’s recipes are all Alexis’ personal combinations (with the exception of the barbecue sauce, which her husband came up with), tested and perfected by trial and error. Her salsa and barbecue sauce ingredients haven’t changed since she began; the only difference in the next few weeks will be the company’s official GMO-free certification, which she’s currently working with NSF International to achieve. Their full line will be certified GMO-free, and a few items will be certified organic. Chip Valley Salsa’s facility is already allergen-free, and 90 percent of their ingredients are organic.

“I wish everyone was as diligent as we are. How much easier would that be shopping?” said Alexis. “I couldn’t show my face if I was making something to sell that I wouldn’t eat myself. I want to know what I’m eating, and this way I do – and so will you.”

Learn more at www.facebook.com/bulldogsauce.