Chef Ali Shirazi, Part 3: Public sampling of Original Juan's test kitchen batches

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You never know exactly whats on the shelves from the test kitchen.
  • You never know exactly what's on the shelves from the test kitchen.
A lot of the salsas and sauces in the Pain Is Good lineup from Original Juan include the batch number. It's not a marketing gimmick; it's the result of recipes being put through the paces in the test kitchen at 111 Southwest Boulevard. The one putting the recipes through those paces is test kitchen chef Ali Shirazi.

He gave Fat City a peek inside his kitchen (Parts 1 and 2 of the interview ran earlier this week), but his latest creations are on display every day in the small retail gift shop. Folks in Kansas City have an advantage on the rest of the country — they get to try salsas, dips and rubs before they come to market.

"People keep asking for something two months later, and I get frustrated because I know we don't have it," Shirazi says. "But then I get excited because it means that product has legs."

The glass jars are all labeled with placeholder names so as not to reveal who might be bringing what to market. It's also a chance for Shirazi to display his humor — that's how you end up with a "Wait, Wait, Don't Lick Me" hot sauce, a nod to one of his favorite radio programs, Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me. The prototypes are typically 99 cents to $1.99. As for what's on the shelves now, there's a Rancho Gordo Rio Fuego Chili Sauce, which has a pumpkin-seed base, and it's dynamite on couscous or in chili.

"There's always a twist or something different. And it's limited, so you never know what's going to be there," Shirazi says.

Original Juan's factory outlet is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m Saturday.

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