January 26, 2022
Through a shared love of hot sauce, DeMarcus Williams and Erick Yi went from co-workers in finance to co-founders of chili sauce brand, Lan Prik.
“We used to work together in finance for about five years,” Erick said. “We sat right next to each other, so we shared a lot of food, and we both love hot sauces. We’d basically tried almost every iteration of hot sauce out there.”
It was at this time Erick’s aunt returned from traveling to Southeast Asia and created a chili sauce inspired by her travels. Erick fell in love with the sauce and shared it with DeMarcus, who also became an instant fan.
“When I first tried it, I loved it because it was very authentically Asian and a heavy fish sauce,” DeMarcus said. “It was somewhat polarizing, so you either loved it or you just couldn’t vibe with it.”
Encouraged by DeMarcus to sell the chili sauce, Erick got to work tweaking the recipe to be more palatable for a wider range of consumers. After creating six iterations of the recipe and using their co-workers as guinea pigs, the co-founders felt confident in the chili sauce’s flavor.
“Some hot sauces want to be notorious for burning your tongue off, being extra sweet, or extra savory,” DeMarcus said. “What is really unique about Lan Prik is that people love the versatility of it. You get a good amount of heat without it completely overwhelming your senses. You can still taste your food and the levels of complexity in the sauce, and really enjoy your meal.”
In 2015, Lan Prik was born. With a name that means ‘“nephew’s chili,” the brand specializes in two chili sauce flavors: Reserve Red and Original Green.
“The Original Green is the original recipe, and it's made with green Thai chili peppers,” Erick said. “The Reserve Red is made with more mature red Thai chili peppers. As the peppers mature, they become spicier, so the red version hits you a little bit differently.”
When it comes to the founders’ favorite Lan Prik recipes, DeMarcus uses the sauce to add flavor to many dishes, including chicken, hot dogs, and eggs. Erick said that he likes to use Lan Prik to spice up Costco rotisserie chicken and in cooking fish.
The Lan Prik website also provides a wide variety of recipes incorporating the sauce. These include chicken enchiladas, cheesesteak zucchini boats, and potstickers.
Whether you’re a chef or someone looking to spice up a simple meal, everyone can enjoy Lan Prik.
“I had one of my friends try it who is a James Beard chef, and he thought it was amazing,” DeMarcus said. “Now he's experimenting with it and trying to find unique pairings. But that's a great thing about the sauce is that not only can it speak to a culinary expert, but it can also speak to someone who doesn’t like to cook.”
Down the line, DeMarcus and Erick plan to continue to perfect their recipe and get their chili sauce in everyone’s kitchen.
“A fish sauce with the right ingredients, pairing, and complementary ingredients can bring out this rich, flavorful, umami-ness without the overwhelmingness,” Erick said. “I think that's what my aunt's recipe was able to create, and I’m very fortunate that she's my aunt.”
Click here to check out the Lan Prik website.