In a flavorful installment of CNBC’s Make It series, Mike Kurtz, the unintentional entrepreneur behind Mike’s Hot Honey, explores the fascinating story of how his side hobby, initially cultivated while apprenticing under Paulie Gee at the renowned pizzeria in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, evolved into a thriving multi-million dollar enterprise. Kurtz shared the origins of his distinctive formulation and shed light on the creative process that sparked the idea for his unique product.
While studying Portuguese in Brazil in the fall of 2003, inspiration struck. I was hiking with some friends and on the last day of our hike, we descended into a little valley and found a pizzeria there, and there were jars of honey with chili peppers on the tables for drizzling on the pizza. The first time I tasted the combination of honey and chili peppers on pizza, it blew my mind. I just couldn’t shake the memory of it…
Mike Kurtz the accidental tourist embarks on an unforeseen journey, Mike’s Hot Honey has transformed from a mere side hobby in Brooklyn into a lucrative business empire. This captivating narrative unravels the story behind the brand’s unexpected success, shedding light on the twists and turns that led it to become a multi-million dollar venture. From its humble beginnings as a passion project to its current status as a flourishing business, the tale of Mike’s Hot Honey is one of entrepreneurial ingenuity and the extraordinary potential that can arise from pursuing one’s interests. Explore the fascinating trajectory of this accidental tourist in the culinary world and witness the astounding metamorphosis that has defined Mike’s Hot Honey’s remarkable ascent.
Early on in his apprenticeship, Mike brought Paulie the honey he had been working on for years. And brought it in for Paulie to try. He tasted it. He started drizzling it on a hot soppressata pizza, which we later called the Hellboy, and asked me if I could make it for the restaurant to drizzle on the pizzas. Soon customers were asking to purchase bottles of Mike’s Hot Honey. At this time, I was making Mike’s Hot Honey in small batches, one gallon at a time in the back of the pizzeria.