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Ocean Beach Foods

Sacramento’s Ocean Beach Foods Co. makes four flavorful and spicy sauces.

Ocean Beach Foods spices up Sacramento

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Dave Nettles and Kelsi White are spicing up the lives of fellow Sacramentans with their line of locally made sauces. It’s their company name that makes customers do double takes: Ocean Beach Foods Co.

They named their fledgling company in honor of the famed surfing community in San Diego. Nettles is a lifelong surfer; White grew up in San Diego.

“We both have a love of sauces and beach style living,” Nettles said. “We both love Ocean Beach and the name encompassed our lifestyles and what we wanted to be as a company.”

One year after making their first batch of Taquieria sauce, friends Nettles and White now have Ocean Beach sauces in 23 stores including Corti Brothers and Taylor’s Market in Sacramento. Doing all the cooking and marketing themselves, they’ve sold more than 4,600 jars.

“We started with $500 — literally because that was all we had to spend and no one would give us a loan,” White said.

Added Nettles, “We do tastings at the Sacramento Food Co-op and people are shocked to learn that we’re actually the owners of the company. But we’re that small — and that hands on.”

Sacramento has embraced their beachy spin on sauces, they said.

“The reaction has been really great,” White said. “People are always super excited when they taste the sauces. Sacramento loves everything local. And we’re trying to be as local as possible.”

Ocean Beach currently features four flavors — two Mexican and two Indian. The Taqueria and Baja Verde recipes are variations of traditional Mexican favorites that Nettles has loved for years.

“I brought the Indian to the table,” White said. “I couldn’t find sauces I liked. So, I developed my own. Personally, I think Indian food is going to be the next big trend, like Thai. It’s going to really take off.

“In Indian restaurants, the flavors are often ‘dumbed down’ — they’re very heavy with butter and cream or coconut milk,” she added. “I wanted something that tasted fresh, lighter with more intense flavors.”

White worked on her Tikka Masala and Kerala Coconut Curry sauce recipes for months.

“I made curry twice a week for six months, over and over and over again, until I had it right,” she said. “I finally figured out one missing ingredient — cinnamon — then it all came together.”

Ocean Beach rents a local restaurant kitchen to make the sauces, which sell for about $5 a 12-ounce jar.

“They’re locally made and as locally sourced as we can,” Nettles said. “They’re so simple, so fresh and so spicy.”

There’s a lot of heat in the Taqueria sauce; it includes an equal amount of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers.

“We call them sauces — not salsas — because they’re more of a condiment, not just something for dipping chips,” Nettles said. “They’re great in burritos, tacos, eggs. They have a lot of versatility.”

And, yes, you can find Ocean Beach Foods in Ocean Beach, too. White found a gourmet shop in her old hometown that wanted to carry their brand. They’re also looking to expand elsewhere around the state.

Said Nettles, “People are drawn to the ocean. Even though we’re in Sacramento, we’re still California and connected to the ocean. Ocean Beach allows you to have that California feel, wherever you are.”

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.

Read more articles by Debbie Arrington

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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