Teenage entrepreneur markets his own brand of chipotle sauce
Published: Friday, June 28, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 28, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.
Logan Gore sat on the tailgate of a Chevy Silverado outside of Steeple Chase apartments, rubbing his greasy hands together. Donning a black T-shirt with the words “Dare to be Significant” on it, the recent Marion Technical Institute graduate, along with a couple of friends, were tinkering with Gore’s 1950 Plymouth Special Deluxe.
The classic is a fifth-generation car from the Gore family that was handed down to him. And the 17-year old doesn’t pretend to be a mechanic. He won’t pretend to be an engineer either, despite that being his course of study at MTI.
But Gore has lived true to the four words on his shirt — Dare to be Significant — by tinkering. Not under the hood, but in the kitchen.
A couple of months before enrolling at Rollins College as a freshman, the Ocala native already has Wing Bling — his own recipe, a sweet chipotle marinade-dipping sauce — on the market and is in the final stages of getting a rub onto the shelves.
Gore hasn’t even started studying business at Rollins, but he already is in the early stages of cooking up something great.
“I started (to pursue) engineering and started to realize that I can cook a lot better than I can do math,” Gore said.
It was years before deciding on a course of study at MTI that Gore first showed an interest in cooking. While most 8-year-olds were engrossed in PlayStation 2 and Kelly Clarkson on “American Idol,” Gore was helping his parents and grandparents make cookies and stews as well as grilling steaks.
The Gore family lineage is full of people with culinary success as well as an entrepreneurial spirit. Gore’s uncle is a chef in Baltimore. His father was a chef for a significant amount of time before opening his own business in Lady Lake. His mom owns her own business in Ocala. His grandparents are Louisiana residents who spend more of their time in the kitchen than any other room in their house.
“We would go up (to Louisiana about once a year) to visit,” said Gore. “They were the ones that really put the grassroots in me and got me interested in cooking. They were amazing cooks. I loved going there because of the food; it is amazing.”
Gore was 8 when Toni Speed, his grandmother, first remembered having a little helper in the kitchen.
“He was always in the kitchen with us,” Speed said from her Hammond, La., home. “I can see him now standing on a stool stirring the pot and putting spices in.”
Although Speed hasn’t spent a day of her life getting paid to cook, she, like most native Louisianans, has a knack for cooking, a recipe book inches thick and a love for food with a spicy kick.
“(Just recently), Logan called and wanted a copy of a recipe I had,” said Speed. “What Logan does is alter them to make it his own. At one point when he was up here he must have copied about 90 of my recipes.”
Gore was about 11 when people outside his family first realized the skill and passion Gore had for cooking. Fellow members of his Boy Scout troop were the initial beneficiaries.
“I actually really enjoyed cooking, preparing the meals for scouts, planning a menu, really taking a leadership role in that,” said Gore. “Many troops would go away to camps and we would end up having four- and five-course meals while some of the other boys at camp were eating Pop-Tarts for breakfast.”
The troop’s breakfast menu included eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, as well as extra food for those who didn’t have any breakfast or would prefer an entire plate of homemade food instead of a pre-baked toaster pastry.
While Gore started as the lone cook, after a year, several troop members were able to whip up different meals.
By age 14, Gore was putting entire meals together. It came without any resistance from his parents.
“They really just let me go and basically said, ‘Learn on your own; do your own thing,’ ” Gore said. “I made some mistakes … but if you don’t let someone experience it, you guard them, it ends up differently. They have always been supportive of me cutting my own way and learning by myself.”
That support, though, didn’t include his parents’ money. Every dollar spent on Gore’s pursuit has come out of his own pocket.
It would make sense for Gore to pursue a career as a chef that would place him in upscale restaurant or even as a restaurant owner. It was on a fishing trip to Key West with his dad three years ago that Gore was put on a different culinary path.
“We ate wings (in Key West) and we both loved the sauce on them,” Gore recalled. “Dad and I tried to (replicate) that sauce and came up with something even better. Slowly, over a three-year period, my dad and I have been making it. People would try it and say it was a little too sweet; others would say it was a little too spicy. We found just the right flavor and everyone who has tried it loves it.”
Gore’s Wing Bling Sauce is a mild, chipotle-flavored sauce, originally used for wings. But during three years of experimentation Gore found out how great the sauce is for marinating steaks, basting, grilling and dipping.
Brown sugar, aged red cayenne peppers, vinegar, garlic and chipotle peppers give the sauce its “bling.”
Creating the too-die-for sauce was just part of the fun or Gore. Setting up his own business at just 17 — and getting the sauce approved by the Food and Drug Administration — was another part.
Gore found a co-packer to bottle the sauce in Palatka. Then he got a label designer to design an FDA-approved label complete with a bar code, nutritional facts and an ingredient listing. A printer in Atlanta printed the labels.
The sauce itself had to be sent to the FDA lab in Palatka to be tested.
“I high-fived a bunch of people,” Gore said, remembering when he learned the sauce had been approved.
As with his cooking, he learned as he went.
“There were a lot of requirements to achieve Eagle Scout rank, so I’m used to (a process)” said Gore. “There was a lot of you-have-to-do-this-before-you-can-do-that. No one could give me a solid list of what you had to do. It was a big headache. I wish they could have given me a piece of paper that says do this, this and this. That whole process took about three months.”
Seeing a bottle of Wing Bling, though, is Gore’s reward.
“People tell me all the time that I am pretty young to be doing this,” said Gore. “Not really. I’m just bored. I don’t want to work for anybody else. I wanted to work for myself.”
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