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Bend man cooks up hot sauces at Senior Center

By Joe Burns
Published On: Jun 12 2013 06:02:52 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 12 2013 09:13:20 PM CDT

After being laid from his high-paying computer engineering job, one local man takes a different career path. He's been cooking up Indian sauces right here in Central Oregon ever since.

BEND, Ore. -

A Bend man, laid off from his high-paying computer engineering job, decides to start his own business in a whole other realm: Indian sauces.

Arun Srikantaiah began Khara Foods in Bend nearly a half-year ago. The home for his business operations? The Bend Senior Center.

If you peek inside the center's kitchen every so often, you may just see Srikantaiah cooking up his spicy creation.

"People want more variety, they want to see what else is out there," Srikantaiah said.

Srikantaiah cooks the sauces at the senior center, and handles the business from home.

"I'm doing everything from production to marketing to sales, and all the paperwork behind it," Srikantaiah said.

His hot sauces range from Bangalore Torpedo, which he recommends is good on wings, to Tropical Torpedo, to Mint Mayhem.

He also has Tango Tamarind, a fruit spread that he says is good on pancakes and waffles.

Right now, he fills around 100 bottles every two weeks -- and with local farmers markets in full swing, he expects to ramp up production this summer.

"There's curiosity about ethnic cuisine especially in Bend," Srikantaiah said.

Just a year ago, Srikantaiah was laid off at a software company in Portland.

"My background is technology, but at heart I've been a foodie for a long, long time," Srikantaiah said.

And what a perfect time to get into the sauce business. According to the U.S. Sauces Industry, during the recession, more people stayed at home to cook, which increased the demand for sauces.

And the need continues to grow.

Srikantaiah says the ethnic food market is expected to grow to $5 billion by 2015.

"I thought I could start this company, and we could play a smart part in that expansion," Srikantaiah said.

He also teaches Indian cooking classes at the senior center.

Khara Foods can be found at several retailers around Central Oregon, including Whole Foods, C.E. Lovejoy's, Newport Market and restaurants like Southside Pub and Broken Top Bottle Shop.

To learn more about his products visit, www.heatfromtheeast.com

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