Where do the top, award-winning chefs buy their spices?

Posted on March 15, 2019 by Scott Eirinberg

I know a lot of you are already cult fans of our signature Tellicherry Peppercorns and our Icelandic Flake Sea Salt. The reviews you’ve written are sometimes so over-the-top, I worry that others will think they’re fake. LOL. But I do understand. Those peppercorns somehow talked me into starting a spice business.

If you haven’t yet ventured beyond our signature salt and pepper, I wanted to let you in on something special.

Today, a large part of our business is supplying our spices to Michelin Star and James Beard award-winning chefs across the country. And they buy each and every one of our spices. From our impossibly citrusy Coriander Seed to our gorgeous Green Cardamom to our fresher than fresh Cumin seed. (Okay, sorry, I’m getting carried away, but I’m proud of our spices!)

In fact, we even supply a 3-Star Michelin restaurant in San Francisco. (There are only 14 that have been designated with three stars in the USA.)

Our spice collection goes beyond our signature salt and pepper

I want to let you know that we give you access to the exact same lots of spices that we supply to these same chefs. And we’re talking, the pickiest, most demanding, talented, respected chefs in the country.

Let me explain our process. We use our award-winning chefs as our consultants. Before we decide to add new spices to our collection, I visit our top chefs with samples in hand. I open the spices in front of our top chefs and then and watch their faces as they react. (It’s always a nerve-wracking moment.)

I want to let you know that we give you access to the exact same lots of spices that we supply to the pickiest, most demanding, most talented, most respected chefs in the country.

Only when several of our chefs are excited, and actually asking to buy the spices from us, will we add them to our collection. No matter how I personally feel, we won’t add a spice until we’ve gone through this rigorous vetting process. We don’t just sell spices because we have access to them. 

When we do finally add a new spice to our collection, we make the same spices available to you as well, just in smaller size packages. (I’m assuming you aren’t ready to order 5 lbs. at a time. But if you are, do let us know!)

Only when several of our chefs are excited, and actually asking to buy the spices from us, will we add them to our collection. No matter how I personally feel, we won’t add a spice until we’ve gone through this rigorous vetting process.

Your spices come from the EXACT SAME LOTS that our most talented chefs are getting. Yes, I know that we don’t have every spice under the sun. We go slowly before we add new spices to the line.

You see, the word “reluctant” in Reluctant Trading is there for a reason. We take our time, careful to only add stuff that is extraordinary. It takes time and resources on the ground to find the best of the best.

Each and every spice we purchase is bought in small batches, fresh and direct from the sources. In India, my partner, Divakar, literally travels the countryside for the best lots. He sells exclusively to us. We don’t use distributors or middlemen where spices sit and go stale.

We sell-through our spices consistently and often, several times a year, so you’re always getting the freshest, most aromatic stuff. Farm-to-table spices you might say.

Here’s what just a few of our award-winning chefs have to say about our spices. We hope you’ll now have the confidence to go beyond our salt and pepper and that you’ll check out the rest of our spice collection.



“As with all spices, freshness is key. Reluctant Trading is one of my favorite sources for high quality spices.”

Chef Joshua McFadden
Ava Gene's, Portland, OR
Author of “Six Seasons”
A James Beard Award-Winning, National Best-Selling Cookbook, Bon Appétit America's Best New Restaurants 


“I love Reluctant Trading! From smoky, sultry, fire-dried turmeric to the most complex Tellicherry peppercorns around –the quality of their spices is unparalleled.”

Chef/Owner Bonnie Morales
Kachka Restaurant, Portland, OR
Awards: GQ 25 Most Outstanding Restaurants, James Beard, Bon Appetit America’s Best New Restaurants

“Thank you for showing us how good spices can actually be.”

Chef/Founder Vitaly Paley
Imperial, Paley’s Place, Headwaters, Rosa Rosa, Portland, OR
Awards: Several James Beard awards


Haute! Haute! Haute! Introducing our partnership with Sarah Marshall

Posted on February 26, 2019 by Scott Eirinberg

Exclusive, super tasty recipes on a monthly basis featuring Reluctant Trading spices

Last June, I was in Portland, Oregon, eating dinner at a wonderful little French brasserie in SE Portland called La Moule.

I was lucky enough to snag a seat at the counter. It gave me time to chat with the chef, owner, and all-around chill dude, Aaron Barnett.

Aaron is one of the most talented chefs in town and also the force behind one of the city’s finest restaurants, St. Jack. Chef Barnett happened to be expediting orders that night, so I was in luck.

During a highly entertaining chat that covered everything from punk rock to legal marijuana, Chef Barnett told me about Sarah and Dirk Marshall, a local couple making stellar hot sauces for chefs around town.

The chef told me they weren’t just creating HOT sauces, but super well-balanced, delicious hot sauces using the freshest ingredients from local farms.

My ears perked up, and I scribbled a mental note. (After a couple of wines, you don’t take a mental note. You scribble one.)

The next morning, I woke up with hot sauce on the brain. And I’m not just describing my hangover.

I looked up Marshall’s Haute Sauce on Instagram. And, well, haute damn! They were scheduled to appear that morning at a booth in the Farmer’s Market at Portland State University.

Haute! Haute! Haute! Marshall's Haute Sauces at the Portland Farmer's Market

I hoofed it over to PSU to check it out. BTW, when in Portland, do NOT miss the Farmers Market. It is one of the best in the country.

Some of the top local farms attend. There is no need to eat breakfast. Your berries will be waiting. But not just any berries. Some of the sweetest, juiciest, tastiest, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Everything but the Cap'ns Crunchberries. Sorry, I digress.

I made my way over to the Marshall’s Haute Sauce booth where I first wanted to do a little undercover taste testing. What if I didn’t like their sauces? I needed to be careful.

I grabbed a chip. I began to dip. And dip. And dip. Be still my heart. And my warm and happy taste buds, too.

Dirk and Sarah’s sauces were just the way Chef Barnett mentioned. Fresh, balanced, and tasty as heck. (BTW, we sell ‘em now, so you can see for yourself.

It was time for me to take off my dark glasses and fake mustache and introduce myself. (No, I wasn’t really wearing a disguise!) I was thrilled to find Sarah and Dirk’s personalities as warm as their haute sauces. After gabbing at length, we exchanged contact info and I took home a pack of haute sauces for further “research.”

A saucy shot of Dirk and Sarah

It wasn’t long before I talked to Sarah and discussed how we could work together. Sarah and Dirk began using our spices in their hot sauces and we started selling them in our shop. The response was amazing and I knew I wanted to do more together.

I could see that Sarah loves inspiring others to cook and her abilities go way beyond hot sauce. She is passionate about farmers, artisan producers, and canning seasonal ingredients. She is amazing at putting together ingredients in new, delicious and interesting ways.

When Sarah started showing me what she could do with our spices, I wanted her to do more. So I asked her to create recipes for us on a monthly basis using our spices.

I hope you enjoy Sarah’s recipes as much as our family does. So happy to be working with her.

Here’s where you can pick up a set of Sarah Marshall’s Haute Sauce. Best hot sauce evah!

Sign up for our newsletter and you’ll get 10% off our featured spice each month. Plus you’ll get Sarah’s latest recipes.

Sign up for our newsletter to get 10% off our featured spice each month plus the latest recipes in your inbox

Green Peppercorn Fettuccine with Leeks, Bacon and Mushrooms

Posted on February 26, 2019 by Scott Eirinberg

Introducing Sarah Cooks! and our Spice of the Month - Green Peppercorns

Each month, we’ll be blogging out original and delicious recipes featuring one of our Reluctant Trading spices. The recipes are formulated exclusively for us by the super-talented and super-friendly Sarah Marshall.

So what’s our inaugural spice of the month. you ask? Drumroll please - green peppercorns!

If you’re a little green when it comes to using green pepper, don’t fret, you’ve come to the right place! Sarah’s going to show you how it’s done.

But wait, there’s more! If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get 10% off our spice of the month (green peppercorns if you’re reading this in March 2019) and you’ll be the first to know when we post new recipes.

Cool beans, huh? Whoops, I meant cool peppercorns!

Without further adieu, direct from Portland, OR, give it up for Sarah Marshall!

Thanks Scott!

As the snow is falling, I am craving warm, cozy nights with warm, cozy food. This recipe (and the one for Green Peppercorn Green Beans) filled that need for me and my family this week. There is a sense of gratification, when I make and serve piping hot food on a cold chilly night. These recipes filled our bellies, while warming our hearts.

While green peppercorns are sometimes found pickled in vinegar brine, the dried green peppercorns called for in these recipes, might be my new favorite spice. They season dishes without adding the extra bite, that often comes from fully ripened black peppercorns.

Instead of a peppery punch, green peppercorns bring citrus aromas, and a milder seasoning. When you are cooking for children (mine) they often just can’t get into black pepper. My daughter sees black pepper on something and won’t even touch it. Now bring in the magic green peppercorns- they visually doesn’t trigger that “I don’t want to try it” response. I made this dish, and another that will post soon, and she gobbled them up.

I encourage my family to try new things, and I follow that advice for myself as well. I am always experimenting and trying exciting fun dishes in the kitchen. I hope these recipes inspire you to cook, eat, and devour new food. This recipe is fun, easy, and can be done with those you love. I leave you with our family mantra, Food Is Love.

– Sarah Marshall

Green Peppercorn Fettuccine with Leeks, Bacon, and Mushrooms by Sarah Marshall

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  • 3 small leeks (about 4 cups, chopped)
  • 6 slices hickory smoked bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound fresh fettuccine
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces (about 3 cups whole) crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Reluctant Trading green peppercorns, roughly crushed with a mortar and pestle
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
  • Add Icelandic Sea Salt and ground Tellicherry Peppercorns, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped


Step 1

Cut the root ends and hard green tops off the leeks. Slice the leeks into ¼ inch circles (see photo below). Place the leeks into a bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak for 10 minutes, stir occasionally by hand to dislodge any dirt. Continue to rinse and drain, until clean. Place on a towel to drain any extra water.

Step 2

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, to avoid sticking. Once cooked and crisp, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, place on a paper towel to drain.

Step 3

Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling, add fettuccine and cook 4-5 minutes, until the pasta floats. Drain pasta and add 1 teaspoon olive oil to avoid sticking.

While water is boiling, add leeks to skillet that the bacon cooked in, sauté over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until soft. Add mushrooms, and sauté to remove moisture about 5-7 minutes, until soft.

Step 4

Turn heat to low and add the bacon, cream, and green peppercorns. Heat mixture for 2 minutes, stirring constantly until combined. Add the pasta and the cheese, mix until pasta is evenly coated. Add salt and pepper to taste (for an extra kick, add additional ground green peppercorns). Plate and garnish with parsley.


4 - 5 servings


There is a sense of gratification, when I make and serve piping hot food on a cold chilly night. This recipe filled our bellies, while warming our hearts.

About Sarah

Sarah is the owner of Marshall’s Haute Sauce. Her small batch sauce company grew from her love of gardening, and background in home preserving. Sarah is passionate about farmers, artisan producers, and canning seasonal ingredients. She spends her free time teaching canning classes, experimenting in the kitchen, and organizing a local canning club- Portland Preservation Society. Her love for canning and preserving all things local, inspired her to write Preservation Pantry: Modern Canning From Root To Top And Stem To Core. Be sure to check out Marshall’s Haute Sauce Variety Pack. Best hot sauce evah!

Reluctant Resources Used in this Recipe

Sign up for our newsletter, get 10% off spice of the month

Like this recipe? Want to get 10% off our featured spice each month? Sign up for our newsletter.

Also, be sure to check out Sarah’s other green peppercorn recipe this month for Green Bean Fries with Green Peppercorn Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce.

It's crunch time! Sarah is pulverizing our green peppercorns with our Milton Modern Mortar and Pestle

Don't freak about the leeks. Just saute them for 5-7 minutes.

Lucky fettuccine gets to take a hot tub

When it comes to the final touch, Sarah is partial to parsley

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