A Million Dollar Idea
This Fall at First Watch, hot honey is the new pumpkin spice.
In our newest seasonal menu, we’re partnering with Mike’s Hot Honey to bring sweet heat to a sizzling new custom recipe. Enter the Million Dollar Harvest Hash, which combines house-roasted sweet potatoes, herbed goat cheese, the fan-favorite honey and our signature Million Dollar Bacon to ignite an early start to the season.
Our head chef, Shane Schaibly, has been a longtime fan of Mike Kurtz, the founder of Mike’s Hot Honey, and you may remember their first collaboration together – the Million Dollar Breakfast Sandwich – in late 2021. Ever since, this culinary-minded duo continues to build a friendship and a desire to push their innovations to the next level.
To share more on how hot honey came to buzz into our test kitchens and your table at First Watch, we sat down with Mike Kurtz and Chef Shane to hear about their experiences, in their own words.
Creating Buzzworthy Sweet Heat
Mike Kurtz, Founder of Mike’s Hot Honey
My honey-making started as a hobby. Back in college, I studied abroad in Brazil and visited a tiny pizzeria that had jars of honey with chili peppers in it for drizzling on the pizzas. The combination of the honey and chili peppers really left an impression on me, so when I returned to the States, I started experimenting with different honey and chili pepper combinations until I arrived at the recipe we still use today.
I was working in the music scene in New York at the time and my passion for pizza led me to an apprenticeship at Paulie Gee’s pizzeria. One day, I brought a bottle of my honey into the restaurant and we started putting the honey on a hot soppressata pie…and from across the restaurant, I could see people’s reactions. They started asking for more, so I started making more in the back of Paulie Gee’s pizza shop and began selling bottles off the bar. 20 years since I was first introduced to the combo of honey and chili peppers, here we are.
Honey is wonderful because there’s a lot of natural variation. The versatility of our product is impressive – it can live on pizza, barbecue, salads, salmon, roasted vegetables, and even can be mixed into a refined cocktail. Most people have never experienced heat with their ice cream – but it’s really good on vanilla, which Paulie Gee discovered himself when he made a Mike’s Hot Honey Sundae at his pizzeria.
I love hearing from people who try our honey, “Oh, that’s not hot…wait a minute.” That surprising kick is one of its signature features. The way the heat from the chili peppers hits you is distinct. First you taste the sweetness and floral notes of the honey up front and then, after a one second delay, you get that kick of heat on the back of your palate. Sweet then heat. That’s what you’ll experience with the Million Dollar Harvest Hash.
No one has ever put our honey on a hash before. No one has done this before – a breakfast hash is uncharted territory for Mike’s Hot Honey. I’m excited for people to try our product in a new way and I’m excited to get their gears turning so they ask “Wow, what else can I put this honey on?” I want this to be an eye-opening experience for a lot of people.
I can’t wait to hear what people think about this dish.
Sizzling on the Drizzle: From Our Test Kitchen to Your Table
Chef Shane Schaibly, SVP of Culinary Strategy & Corporate Chef, First Watch
At First Watch, we always start with what’s in season. With our Million Dollar Harvest Hash, Mike’s Hot Honey really completes the dish with a little heat and ingredients that scream fall. In the Million Dollar Harvest Hash, you’re getting house-roasted sweet potatoes with herbed goat cheese and our signature Million Dollar Bacon, finished off with that sweet-heat drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey. This is definitely something you have to try.
When we were in the kitchen creating our Million Dollar Harvest Hash, featuring Mike’s Hot Honey just made sense – its sweet heat perfectly finishes out the cayenne and black pepper spice in our Million Dollar Bacon. I’ve been a big fan of Mike’s product for years, so I’m fired up about partnering with him this second time around and introducing our customers to a new experience at the same time – it’s something special.
Mike’s Hot Honey has this origin in foodservice, with chefs experimenting in all sorts of restaurants – from pizza to brunch. There’s a lot we can learn about his side of the business and all the effort he puts into this product – I’m proud we can celebrate that passion here at First Watch so everyone can get excited about the ingredients we’re using this season.