Hot sauce legend whips up batches in deli after hours

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NORWALK -

A Norwalk man is whipping up handmade bottles of hot sauce without a kitchen of his own, or any employees.

David Wanke is the creator of Wanke's Yankee hot sauce, which he makes at a local deli after it closes.

"I need a licensed, inspected kitchen, and since it's here and they close early, it's available at night," says Wanke. "He's given me a key, and I make sure he's got hot sauce for his customers, and I can come in and make sauce."

Wanke says he works on his recipe at home, and once he has the perfect balance of heat and flavor, he brings it to the kitchen.

The production started as a hobby for Wanke, but he says it has become a lifestyle that stemmed from his love for chilies.

"I can't go a meal without chilies," says Wanke. 

His sauce can be found at local restaurants and delis. He also books events and sells at farmers markets, county fairs and food shows.

Wanke says he spends about 70 hours a week filling up about 120 bottles of sauce each night. 

But the hard work is worth it, and he hopes to continue to expand the business.

"Still beats working for somebody else," says Wanke.

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