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Check Out Robert Hile’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robert Hile.

Hi Robert, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I love food. I love to eat. But most of all, I love cooking; and especially, cooking for friends and family. What started out as helping mom get dinner ready eventually became my hobby, my passion, and then it became my career as a professional executive chef for many, many years-

I became immersed into the Creole and Cajun traditions of Louisiana, the barbecue and meat smoking techniques of Texas and Tennessee, the rich soul food traditions of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, the low country style of South Carolina, and the Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American blending of influences, and an incredible variety of seafood in Florida cuisine.

Our life journey brought my family and me to north Florida and we live just south of St. Augustine. This is a beautiful part of the country with a slower pace where history is really felt, and you still experience what many call ‘Old Florida’. It was here that I was to be introduced to something truly unique – the Datil pepper and the Minorcan-influenced cuisine that this area is known for. Let’s just say – it’s been a wonderful epiphany being here!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has been a challenge that I have welcomed all along the way. Every journey with a bold vision is going to have periods of tension and release, of easy trekking and strenuous climbing and I knew that my future would be all of those things. In the beginning, we experienced a miraculous success in landing placement in a major retailer with locations in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Sales were robust, and the retailer was expanding rapidly. At the beginning of 2020, this retailer filed for bankruptcy and our growth came to a halt. Another regional retailer also filed bankruptcy as we were in negotiations to come aboard with them, As we all know, by the end of March 2020 the pandemic became the new reality for all of us. We made the decision to pivot our business model from retail to farmers’ markets and festivals that began popping up in late July of 2020, as well as putting more emphasis on our online presence.

During this time we also continued with the development and production of two additional products, expanding our product to three, and began landing on shelves with independent retailers. Sales have been steadily increasing and we are looking to a great expansion in retail as we enter 2022.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Making a Datil pepper sauce is, for me, becoming part of a lineage of people that have created wonderful ‘table sauces’ for everyday use. I’m not in competition with anyone here – I am contributing to cultural history and legacy, and that is really fulfilling to know.

Dili Datil is clean and simple and an affirmation of what I picture in my mind when I think of the earliest immigrants and indentured people that came to Florida. These people were creating something that reminded them of home, and at the same time creating something unique for our American quilt of multi-cultural expressions.

So getting to the cultural piece more – Spanish and Portuguese cultures do a lot with the ‘Holy Trinity of tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions – it is sprinkled throughout their cuisines. And of course, in Datil pepper sauces, we have the colonial influences of apple cider vinegar and brown sugar and/or molasses to work with the heat of the Datils. This is what I saw in history, that is what makes these sauces so unique, and these flavors and approaches are what attracted me so strongly.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I also keep in mind that Datil sauce was (and should still be) ‘everyday table sauce’ – literally sitting on the kitchen or dining table all the time. These table sauces were enjoyed during all meals by everyone – the children and the adults and the older folks too!

Pricing:

  • 6.95 individual bottle
  • 17.95 ‘Spicy Family’ 3 pack
  • 59.95 Full cases (12/5oz. bottles

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Robert Hile

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