Good Food Awards

Meet California Winner Let’s be Frank

Posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2012 in Pickles by Alex Molinaro

Larry Bain did not create his winning Devil Sauce over night. In fact, the journey to Let’s Be Frank and the cultivation of this flavorful topping developed after many years within the food industry trying to create a community based on the ethical principles of good food that is accessible to everyone. Larry grew up in Toronto and was always heavily involved in politics, focusing primarily on maintaining a lively urban environment, creating strong rural ties with the community and a conscious appreciation for farmers, the land, and their crops. As life continued, Larry found himself working in a wine bar and he thought to himself, “There has to be a way for commerce to be the driving force, creating a clear link between urban and rural relationships.” That is all it took. From there he lived in New York for several years working in many high end restaurants learning every aspect of the industry until he decided to move to San Francisco, finally opening his own restaurant in 1983. A whirlwind took place in Larry’s life and he found himself as a restaurant owner, turned restaurant consultant, turned active non-profit director surrounding the issues of access to good food, opening ACME Chophouse in 2003(what would be the first sustainable grass fed steakhouse in San Francisco), and finally opening Let’s Be Frank and creating the critically acclaimed Devil Sauce.

It would seem that Larry had reached the top, and like most, would be content with the success he had created, however he did not feel a sense of completion, rather an ill sense of being torn between the demographic of ACME steak house and his work on access within the food community. With this turmoil, came a partnership with Sue Moore(meat forager for Chez Panisse) and the premise for Let’s Be Frank was created. Larry saw hot dogs as an icon for everything that was good, and when the food system collapsed, the hot dog became the symbol of everything wrong and he wanted to reclaim the hot dog as something that was once great and could be great again. By taking the excess trimmings from the steaks purchased for ACME Chophouse, he created a grass fed hot dog, which not only supported the rancher by eliminating waste, but created a food product that was tasty, responsibly produced, and accessible.

The 2012 Good Food Awards winning Devil Sauce is a rich in spice pickled product, and as the story was told by Larry himself, one day he was serving hot dogs at a ball park and a request for pickled peppers seemed almost overwhelming. He went to the store, bought a jar of pickled peppers and was appalled not only by the horrifying flavor, but the iridescent glow in the dark appearance advertising a never ending expiration date. Again, his creative wheels began to turn and joined with a surplus of patron peppers from his friends at Mariquita farm, and an interpretation of a pickled eggplant recipe from a close friend’s cookbook, “Bombay Kitchen”, he created Devil Sauce: a condiment representing a local, unique, and delicious topping that could be used on more than just hot dogs. With an annual production almost doubling every year, this devil sauce is soon to be found in sixteen Dean and Deluca stores and online for purchasing.

The possibilities are endless for Larry Bain, and new creations are on the horizon, but Larry puts it best when asked about his 2012 Good Food Award, “It’s really exciting to be in a community with people all over the country who are trying to do the same thing, facing the same challenges and getting the recognition of going beyond just glitz and glamor, there is just so much more to food and both eaters and cookers need to get in touch with this.”

We could not agree more.