The world of condiments became part of my story at a young age. Whether it was a quick after-school snack or a weekend treat, the joy of dunking anything and everything into a tomato sauce was a timeless delight which, to this day, brings back a familiar essence of those carefree days.
As I grew older, it was the classic mayo and sriracha that I reached for. Then, my taste evolved and I found myself drawn exclusively to bold and zesty options, like fiery hot sauces made with habaneros or ghost peppers. Mild condiments no longer excited my palate.
One day, my perspective shifted when I visited a local food festival. There, amidst the array of artisanal condiments, I discovered the wonders of cool and refreshing sauces. This experience opened my eyes, revealing the exciting possibilities that a well-crafted mustard or tangy salsa could offer. From that point on, I've been an ardent advocate for unique and locally-produced condiments.
When the idea of crafting a hot sauce came into play, collaborating with our neighbouring condiment and BBQ enthusiasts, Fancy Hank’s, was the perfect fit. Not only are they committed to producing quality sauces made from Australian ingredients, they also share our passion for creating memorable dining experiences accompanied by good company and great food. Plus, they have been avid supporters of ours from the very start!
As a part of this limited-release barrel-aged habanero and carrot hot sauce collaboration, we had a conversation with Fancy Hank’s Chef and Co-Owner Mike Patrick. We delved into his journey towards establishing his own BBQ joint featuring his made-in-house sauces, as well as discovering the significance of Melbourne’s BBQ community. Check out the interview below.
Interested in trying the hot sauce? Fancy Hank’s and The Gospel Hot Sauce is available to purchase now in our Hot Sauce & Pickle Kit.
-- Fancy Hank’s started as a pop-up in Richmond. Tell us about Kent’s discovery in creating this humble pop-up?
Fancy Hank’s was about disrupting the norm for a food concept. In 2012 there was no one serving BBQ on plastic trays in Australia, making customers come up and order at a trestle table, order meats by weight, or a free condiment table off to the side. It was a little bit punk rock.
-- What led you to join Kent in finding a permanent location for Fancy Hank’s?
Winter was coming in 2013 and we were cooking BBQ in the park at a lawn bowls club. There wasn't gonna be enough revenue to support us both so we reached out to our friends Daragh and Myles who ran the Mercat Cross Hotel in the Queen Vic Market. They had a nightclub underneath and the old pub’s kitchen hadn't been used in years. We craned a smoker onto the balcony and away we went!
Mike using the OG smoker // PHOTO: GAV
-- You have over 20 years in commercial cooking, was it always a dream to have your own venue?
I guess so, I was often frustrated with the offerings in the front of house of the restaurants I was working in, so to be able to have my personality and creative direction represented was important. Also, once Kent and I spoke about our thoughts and experiences in traditional venues, I knew we were on the same page.
-- Where did the inspiration for creating Fancy Hank’s sauces come from?
We have always made our own sauces to be served with our BBQ - customers were often asking for a bottle to take home. We also noticed that a lot of the sauces on the market were imported or full of nasty ingredients, which we wanted to change.
-- What’s your personal favourite sauce?
Pineapple reaper is my favourite for now. It goes on most of my food to be honest.
-- How does Fancy Hank’s differ from other sauces and seasonings in the market?
Our sauces have a very high % of Australian grown ingredients - our tomato sauce has just achieved 100% which we are proud of. They also have very well balanced flavour profiles, as a lot of our time is spent on testing. Some people think that BBQ is all sweet and cloying - BBQ sauce and hot sauces are really big flavour profiles but they can actually be very balanced to complement food and drinks. We work very hard on this.
-- What part of the American BBQ gig are you most passionate about?
The BBQ community is so strong these days. Our customers are often amateur BBQ enthusiasts, so we chat about cooking methods, seasonings and sauces for hours. Not many other cuisines that I have cooked are as accessible for the home cook.
-- What excites you about the Melbourne community?
Our peers in the BBQ world are all our friends. I have never experienced that in hospitality. Nearly every BBQ joint in greater Melbourne is on my speed dial, we often cook at events together and exchange ideas, suppliers and knowledge.
-- Where is your favourite place in Melbourne to go?
Mr Ramen San on Bourke Street for a bowl of spicy tonkotsu noodles.
-- Is there anything else besides meat and sauces you are obsessed with?
Running. I ran my first marathon in 2022 and I’m training to run the Melbourne marathon again in October, then London in 2024. This is in between opening our new expanded rooftop bar Good Heavens above Fancy Hank’s in Spring 2023 and our new pub Springrock adjoining Fancy Hank’s by winter 2024.
MAIN IMAGE: Fancy Hank's // PHOTO: GAV
Liked this article? You might also like In the neighbourhood: Acide.