Red Hot Chili Mamas are jumping back into salsas

Tri-City HeraldMay 2, 2014 

— The Red Hot Chili Mamas are back and sizzling with excitement to be back in the salsa business.

On Saturday, you’ll find the Mamas — Derma McGann and Sherri Schwartz — dishing out their fiery creations at the Pasco Farmers Market.

Fans of their One Arm Bandit, Cranberry Holiday and Mango Madness salsas will be happy to know they’ve dusted off their recipes.

“We have to get back in the groove. We haven’t worked together, making these recipes, in a decade,” said McGann.

In the late 1990s the two friends burned all opponents in the Pasco Fiery Foods Festival salsa competitions.

The duo entered a variety of other cook-offs in the Northwest, winning many, and even competed in world championship competitions in Las Vegas before going into business selling their fresh salsas.

They were well on their way to carving a niche in the salsa market when McGann’s husband, Jim, was transferred to Boise. Sherri and her husband, Kevin, stayed in Kennewick.

Distance separated the Mamas and their salsa business went on hiatus.

“Boise was just too far to travel when we had to make our salsas up fresh every week for the markets,” McGann said.

But now they’re back together — even though the McGanns live in Spokane.

“Jim recently retired and we were looking for something we could do together. Sherri and I have remained in touch all these years and last Christmas decided to jump back into salsas,” McGann said.

Their husbands, who always helped out at shows and competitions, will be at their sides at the markets dishing out jokes, cooking tips and salsas.

The McGanns are considering relocating to the Tri-Cities but until that happens, Derma McGann said she’ll happily make the drive once a week to help Schwartz whip up salsas in the Pasco Specialty Kitchen.

“We’ve signed the contract for space in the kitchen and all we need to do is order our ingredients to be back in business,” Schwartz said.

“I’m excited to be a Mama again and to have access to the Specialty Kitchen is heaven. It didn’t exist back when we were making and selling salsas. We were always borrowing a restaurant kitchen after hours to make our salsa,” Schwartz said. The Mamas plan to sell their products at farmers markets in the Tri-City area.

They will definitely be at the Pasco market Saturdays and plan to sell at the Southridge Farmers Market on Thursdays too.

“If there’s an overwhelming demand for our salsas, we’ll consider adding other markets,” McGann said.

The two women have always had an affinity for spicy foods, but it wasn’t until they teamed up as the Mamas that they found their spicy niche in salsa making.

“We do very non-traditional salsas,” McGann said.

Some of their best sellers were One Armed Bandit, which gets its kick from hickory smoked chipotle peppers, Cranberry Holiday, which is good on turkey, chicken and other poultry year-round, and Mango Madness, a sweet tropical mix delicious on fish, chicken and pork.

They plan to offer all three, and a few other seasonal salsas, like Candy Apple, during the farmers market season.

“Candy Apple is a mix of apples, Craisins, peppers and onions with a special cinnamon-flavored sauce. It’s delicious served over warm brie or cheesecake and goes well with wine,” McGann said.

The Pico Me Pink is their most traditional salsa. It has a tomato base with a mix of hot and mild peppers and onions.

“It makes a great substitute for mayo in tuna salad,” Schwartz said.

Their salsas are made fresh and will keep for about two weeks if refrigerated. The mango and cranberry salsas also can be frozen.

The Mamas sell their freshly made salsas in 8-ounce containers. Each one will be about $5.

“We’ll have to see what the prices are for ingredients nowadays before we set an actual dollar figure,” McGann said.

If you miss the Mamas at the markets, they do take special orders.

Their business phone is (509) 847-9028.

You can find them on Facebook by searching for “Red Hot Chili Mamas Gourmet Salsa.”

You can also shoot them an email at

w Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513;

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