About 10 years ago I met Hot Sauce guru Leo McInnis at the Cocoa Beach Flea Market, and he turned me on to his White Habanero Hot Sauce, grown from the rare White Peruvian Habanero. He took the time to explain to me the complexities of the sauce using all natural ingredients as opposed to those who use a chemical reaction to make their sauce appear white. He even mailed me a pod. We stayed in touch all of these years and trade stuff like rubs, sauce, seeds, peppers, etc. Little did I know that Leo is actually a big player on the Nation’s Hot Pepper stage, hanging with some of the Kingpins like Johnny Scoville, Ron Beck, Vic Clinco, and others. I got to sit down and talk with Leo about his Company, Smoking Tongues Hot Sauce, and how he got to be a boss of the sauce. Leo’s favorite pepper right now is the Red Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. His love for heat started as a child and in the past 12 years he has progressed to making his own hot sauce and growing some of the most deadliest peppers known to man, heat-wise. He learns from buying hot sauce from other fine hot sauce crafters. Originally from Lynn Massachusetts, Leo moved to Florida in 2004 to get away from the snow. He says the mistake many people make when trying to grow peppers is a lack of patience, bad maintenance, and overwatering. Here in town he says his biggest problems growing are bugs and other pests, and one must be very diligent to eradicate them from your garden safely. To grow peppers you must have good soil and nutrients. It is best to start small with just a few varieties and then branch out when you get comfortable, he continues. Leo says if you want to make your own hot sauce just look up some recipes and start out with small batches, that way if it’s bad you won’t feel so bad when you throw it out! Before Irma, Leo had a house surrounded by hedges that were actually superhot pepper plants. Then destruction. How did he make lemonade from lemons? “Ugly Irma Hot Sauce came from that hurricane. I Picked about 6 pounds of peppers off the ground. I made a green super-hot pepper sauce with tomatillos and sweet onion, and a hot pepper seasoning with the some of the ingredients from the hot sauce in a dried seasoning”. Leo says in the future he hopes to continue to learn and expand his knowledge base of hot peppers and keep spreading the love. According to Leo, the prime growing season in Brevard County is March to October, and he starts his seeds in November and December. Leo sells plants, sauces, and rubs. No need to leave town when we have our own Hot Sauce Guru right down the street. He’s like the Ric Flair of Hot Sauce. Wooooooo!