Prepared Foods talks with Sharone Hakman, a former corporate financial planner turned chef who initially specialized in barbecue sauces. In 2010, He was top five finalist in the first season of Fox TV’s series “MasterChef.” Since founding his own company, Hak’s, in Los Angeles in 2011, he has developed several packaged retail BBQ sauces, cooking sauces and, most recently, salad dressings.


Prepared Foods: How have BBQ sauces most changed since 2011?

Sharone Hakman: There is definitely a greater emphasis on local flavors, and even some of the big brands are taking regional approaches. However, there are still too many brands that contain processed or less healthy ingredients. We always use carefully selected, high quality ingredients that a customer would easily recognize. Real ingredients. None of the bad stuff.


PF: What’s a new offering you’re particularly proud of? Why?

Hakman: That would be our Brown Sugar Roasted Garlic BBQ sauce. The warmth of the brown sugar with a kick of garlic makes for the perfect balance. I wanted to create a flavor without any heat so that everyone can enjoy it! It’s our most family friendly BBQ sauce and I’m proud to hear the rave reviews from adults and kids alike!


PF: Where do you go for new product inspiration? Can you share a recent example of applying something new?

Hakman: I’m always cooking for friends and family, constantly experimenting in my kitchen with my kids and testing recipes with the Hak’s team. I also keep trying to find new things to try! I never want to stop trying new things!

You can tell by my existing BBQ sauce flavors, I draw inspiration from global flavor profiles and I love finding the balance between sweet and heat. Habanero Pineapple, Thai Chile Tamarind, and Chipotle Bourbon are all great examples. I also like to see where there is a need in the market and I try to fill it with something that is convenient without compromising any flavor or quality.


PF: What’s your favorite ingredient at the moment? Why?

Hakman: Right now, it would have to be coffee. It can be used to create sweet, bitter, roasted or acidic flavors. You can go in so many different directions with coffee and I love that!


PF: What do you see coming next in BBQ sauces and rubs for the remainder of this year and 2019?

Hakman: People will continue to strive for cleaner, healthier meal choices and we are proud to be a part of that trend! The grill is increasingly becoming the “go-to” for busy family weeknights and not just larger weekend gatherings. Hence, BBQ will become a bigger part of meal time solutions! Most importantly, Hak’s will continue to lead the way with exciting flavor mashups that are based on clean, simple ingredients.

Originally appeared in the May, 2018 issue of Prepared Foods as First Person.