VFX Vet-Turned-Hot Sauce Hotshot Takes THR's Taste Test

JD Cowles BBQ - H 2013
Jaime Cary

JD Cowles BBQ - H 2013

All Spice Café founder JD Cowles talks lamb tapenade sliders, linguine puttanesca, smoked baby back ribs and more.

VFX veteran JD Cowles -- who’s worked on everything from the “bullet time” of The Matrix and the Oscar-winning effects of What Dreams May Come as a compositor to, more recently, I Am Legend, Alice in Wonderland and The Amazing Spider-Man -- has seen work dry up in recent years as the effects industry has been roiled by financial turmoil. So he turned more attention toward All Spice Café, the hot sauce line he started in 2006, and which has since netted a slew of awards, including from the Fiery Food and Barbecue Show in Albuquerque and Los Angeles magazine for Best Hot Sauce Maker. The line includes a mix of seasoning rubs (e.g., the Ghost Pepper Adobo) and sauces (Cayenne Habanero) that are available online and at a variety of key, cred-burnishing foodie focal points in the L.A. area, including the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica, Surfas in Culver City, Lindy & Grundy in the Fairfax District and Whole Foods markets all over town.

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Current Fixation
“Fontina cheese and white truffle oil mac and cheese topped with ghost pepper flakes from Chaya Venice.”

Known for Cooking
“Lamb tapenade sliders and roaster chickens on the pellet grill.”

Destination Dinner
“One favorite is linguine puttanesca with sautéed calamari at La Vecchia Cucina in Santa Monica.”

Go-To Takeout
Thai Vegan on Main St. in Santa Monica.”

Adventurous Bite
“I haven’t done it yet but I’m tempted by the Dynamite Spicy Challenge at Jitlada. Anything Thai-spicy at Jitlada is delicious.”

Simply Won’t Eat
“Raw oysters.”

Favorite Snack
“Tortilla chips and Lucky Habanero salsa.”

Pet Peeve
“Meat that’s overcooked on the grill -- dry chicken breast and well-done steaks."

Embarrassing Experience
“When I cut the corner of my finger off while cutting red onion to serve with fish tacos. Never did find that loose piece of finger…”

Guilty Pleasure
“A rack of my smoked baby back ribs with white truffle fries and a good vanilla ice cream with JolokiBerry Jam and chocolate sauce.”

Last Meal
“Grilled lobster, Picanha -- Brazilian BBQ, medium rare -- rack of lamb, chipotle cheddar twice-baked potatoes, sautéed zucchini and Vidalia onions, finished with a nice big piece of pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream!”