Marcus McCauley and his son fermented cabbage

Fermenting, Farming, and Family: Meet Marcus McCauley of Picaflor and McCauley Family Farm

Marcus McCauley and his son fermenting kimchiMarcus McCauley named his brand Picaflor, the Spanish word for hummingbird. This flittering, pointy-nosed pollinator is believed to represent playfulness, enjoyment of life, resiliency, and in some cultures a bridge between the past and the future because of its unique ability to fly both backwards and forward. Given Picaflor’s origins and Marcus’s intentions, the hummingbird seems an apt mascot. Picaflor, which crafts and sells fermented hot sauces and pepper flakes, was born from a fortuitous event on Marcus’ farm.

As the story goes, a local farmer approached Marcus and said, “I’ve got a ton of peppers. If you can do something with them, you can have them.” Marcus recalls that there were at least 2,000 pounds of peppers. He accepted the bounty and the challenge, and started fermenting and experimenting. Before long, his garage was filled with overflowing, bubbling buckets of fermenting deliciousness. The first hot sauce he crafted was a sriracha that immediately gained a dedicated local following of his friends and family. He was now the hot sauce guy, and there was no turning back.

Fermenting hot sauces

Some entrepreneurs start with a desire to make lots of money or create a cool new product. But Picaflor owes its beginnings to a vision quest in Colombia. Marcus ventured to the south looking for clarity and purpose, and by the time he returned home, he had found them both. First, he resolved to dedicate his life to supporting the health of the planet, though he did not yet know how. Second, he realized he was ready to meet his life partner and start a family. Just three weeks after his return, he met his wife Doris. This experience planted the seeds of the life he’s built for himself and his family, and he returns to Colombia every year for ongoing guidance about how to build a company and manage a farm with integrity.

Marcus grew up in southern Oklahoma, where he learned a love of food from him mom, his grandma, and his “memaw” (his father’s mother). He explains that in addition to teaching him to cook, these women taught him that “food is a communication of love and connection; it’s a way to nurture and nourish.” He remembers that his family always sat down to eat together and that family dinners were a time of laughter and connection.

When Marcus was in high school, his memaw taught him how to cook. He took on ambitious projects like crawfish étouffée, making stocks from scratch, and perfecting his roux. While he explored other paths, he eventually came to realize that food made him happy and he should follow that passion professionally. That’s when he moved from Oklahoma to Boulder, Colorado, got a job at a restaurant, did some personal cheffing, and eventually enrolled in the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

McCauley Family Farm: From farming to fermentingIn 2012 as Marcus and Doris were preparing for the birth of their son, they agreed that they wanted to raise him surrounded by nature. So, they recruited his parents from Oklahoma and bought an organic farm outside of Boulder to grow food, build community, and learn together; it’s called McCauley Family Farm.

Picaflor sources from local organic farms and uses Highland Honey, which is local and raw. Marcus is committed to making clean products, without the emulsifiers, stabilizers, and preservatives found in so many foods. He’s eager to educate consumers about what clean products look and taste like, and he loves spreading the gospel of the microbe. But more than anything, he wants to create great products that people can’t get enough of.

You can get a Fermented Hot Sauce Sampler from the Hatch Lab Shop now and see how long it takes you to come back for more.

photo credit: Picaflor bottles by Kirsten Boyer Photography, McCauley Family Farm by Dana Bove of Photography for a Change

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