Made in Orange County: Versatile Salsas From Irvine-Based La Jefa Kitchen

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Made in Orange County: Versatile Salsas From Irvine-Based La Jefa Kitchen
Photograph by Emily J. Davis

The versatile salsas from La Jefa Kitchen are inspired by traditional Mexican salsa macha, a thick and nutty chile oil sauce. They come in three levels of heat: the mild guajillo and peanut, the smoky chipotle, and the spicy chile de arbol ($10 per jar). At select O.C. farmers markets, @la_jefa_kitchen on Instagram


Six Questions With Owner Martha Rocha

How did La Jefa Kitchen come about?

Everything started when I would have friends over and they would try my salsa and would always ask for some to take home. They would always ask for me to bring it to parties where their family and friends would try and want it too. I started selling it to them cause you can only give away so much salsa. In 2018, I decided I should make it official by getting permits for the salsa. By 2019, I finally began selling it at farmers markets after so many years of just selling and giving it to friends.

Tell us more about the different salsas you offer.

Our three family members include chile de arbol, guajillo and peanut, and chipotle. First up we have the traditional classic, chile de arbol, which is also our spiciest member. Next up we have chipotle which has more of a smokey flavor with a kick, and last but not least, we have our newest addition to the family, guajillo and peanut, the mildest of the crew but still really packed with flavor. This is not just a salsa/sauce, but it is also a condiment that can be used to spice up any boring meal. 

What is the inspiration behind your salsa?

La Jefa is inspired by the traditional salsa macha. In Mexico, we call it salsa macha with macha being the feminine version of macho and that is why this salsa is named ‘La Jefa’ which, in English, translates to lady boss to represent the spicy, bossy smokiness of salsa macha. This type of salsa is more of a chile oil. It’s not your typical tomato-based salsa, but growing up, my family and I would call anything with peppers salsa. 

Where is your salsa available?

The best way to reach me is through @la_jefa_kitchen on Instagram, since I always post which farmers markets I’m located at. For now, I am only doing direct sales, but I’m currently working on getting the permits for selling La Jefa online and in retail.

What would you recommend using your salsas for?

My favorite way to use La Jefa is by rubbing it into salmon before popping it in to the toaster oven. Same goes for all meats such as chicken, steak, fish, or if you’re vegetarian, it works really well with some tofu and vegetables. My kids also love adding it to scrambled eggs and mixing it with mayo for their sandwiches. La Jefa is perfect for spicing up any boring meal; the possibilities are endless! 

Any new flavors in the works?

I’m currently working on adding a new mole flavor. The cacao with the spiciness is sure to make a unique and flavorful mix! 

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