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Meet Ric Ousley of Ousley Ouch Salsa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ric Ousley. 

Hi Ric, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Two decades ago, my sister Mona and I craved a hot salsa that we simply could not find anywhere. We decided to make our own. After much experimenting and taste-testing, we finally created a salsa that perfectly piqued our palate. We would make it a couple of times a year and give it to friends and family. They always encouraged us to sell it. We continued to make it.  Finally, in 2008, I decided to take a jar of salsa to our neighborhood grocery store, The Produce Place. I dropped it off and never followed up, until maybe 2 years later. Barry Burnett, owner of The Produce Place tried it and started to help me with the steps I needed to take to put the salsa in the market. Since we only made a hot salsa, he suggested we make a mild one as well. My wife Haseena and I worked on a mild recipe.  By April 2011, our mild and hot salsas were on the shelf at The Produce Place. Later that year we began selling our salsa at various farmers’ markets. By 2012, we were selling our salsas at the Turnip Truck and Whole Foods. Our hot salsa was not hot enough for the heat seekers; so we made a salsa with ghost peppers.  For the fruit lovers, we made a peach mango salsa, and later the black bean and corn. We now have eight varieties. Ousley Ouch Salsa has a thick and chunky texture which comes from the onions and jalapeno peppers that are diced by hand. The jalapenos are grown locally at Green Door Gourmet, a local organic farm in Nashville. There are times the jalapenos are added to the batches within hours of picking. Aside from the fresh onions and jalapenos, at least over a dozen herbs and spices are used to create the magical flavor that has family and friends saying, “Ouch! I can’t stop eating!” 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Finding a commercial place to cook our salsa was a challenge. We started out using catering kitchens on Sundays or after hours. Soon our sales spiked and we needed to go to a bigger place.  After some research, we found Cumberland Culinary Center, where we are still cooking the salsa. We would not be where we are without the 12South Farmers Market, Richland Farmers Market, Vanderbilt Farmers Market, the guidance of Barry Burnett of The Produce Place, and the continuous support of the community that have made Ousley Ouch a staple in their household.

We’ve been impressed with Ousley Ouch Salsa, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We are a mom-and-pop company that run all aspects of the business – from chopping and peeling the onions and peppers, to distribution and marketing. Our small batch salsas are free of preservatives. The names contain “ouch”, but not all our salsas are hot. Our goal is to deliver flavor more than heat. 

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
Favorite book: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran 

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