Finance by day and cultivating flavors by night, Pittsburgh native and 6 year BNYM employee Eric Corbin brings the spice of the islands to the community with his emerging minority-owned hot sauce Mezclado. The name of the sauce, Mezclado meaning ''mixed'' in Spanish, celebrates the diverse recipe cultivated from a mixture of ingredients, but is also a nod to Eric’s multiracial family. Eric, a father of 2, businessman, food entrepreneur and veteran represents the innovation and excellence that black history month is all about.
It all began when Eric, also my cousin, fell in love with the lure of the Caribbean, leading him to move to Puerto Rico and open up “Corbin Beach Shop”, featured above. While the shop boasted a variety of vacation commodities like surfboards and smoothies, it was the locally made hot sauce that really drew Eric in.
When he moved back to Pittsburgh, he used the same entrepreneurial itch that inspired him to start the beach shop from scratch to do the same with his sauce. All natural ingredients like fresh chili peppers, smooth sugarcane vinegar, culantro (recao), and pure sea-salt give their signature original sauce a spicy kick to add to any dish.
“I wanted to use ingredients native to the Caribbean. I love the type of foods there, very unique, diverse range of flavors that a lot of people up here have never experienced. So I wanted a sauce that was inspired by a lot of those flavors I experienced living in Puerto Rico”
Eric mastered the perfect concoction in his own kitchen, expanding to festivals, markets, and vendors in Pennsylvania, Ohio and the Caribbean, before inevitably being hit by Covid. While Covid has reduced Mezclado’s in person event reach by 90%, it has led to a stronger direct to consumer marketing strategy and e-commerce outreach, giving consumers a virtual hint at what the savory sauce has to offer.
Covid has not halted the company’s growth, as they recently moved into a bigger kitchen, with growing staff, allowing Eric to expand the empire by focusing on sales and distribution. With the sauce being carried in places like Whole Foods, Giant Eagle, and various mom and pop restaurants, they are well on their way of tackling the taste buds of hot sauce lovers everywhere. Mezclado's new upcoming savory flavor, smoked pineapple, is made by taking a whole pineapple and smoking it on hickory for 6 hours blended with tamarind garlic.
While multi-tasking many roles, especially while raising two young children, Eric cites a structured schedule and balance as imperative to maintaining it all. He also encourages those in the community interested in entrepreneurship to “Do your research as a minority owned business, and in my case, veteran owned as well, to seek resources. There’s a multitude of resources as a minority business out there, so it’s about doing what you can and finding the resources available.’’
Once run by big name brands like Tabasco and Sriracha, the hot sauce industry is diversifying to incorporate smaller brands like Mezclado.
“Diversity in the hot sauce industry is expanding. All races, all ethnicities contributing to the growth of the industry. Just the inspiration itself coming from the Latin, Caribbean, and African cultures represents the many flavors of the industry being brought together.”
Support your spice needs while supporting a minority and veteran owned business like Mezclado, website listed below, and Instagram reachable @mezcladosauce.