Former Four Seasons chef launches hot sauce business during pandemic

Jacob Trinh
Photo credit Tiffani Schultz
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The coronavirus pandemic has stopped many businesses, especially restaurants, from operating, but for Jacob Trinh, it had the opposite effect.

The former Four Seasons chef recently opened his new business, Trinh Eats, which specializes in hot sauces and condiments.

“I've been actually thinking about this for a while and I've been playing around with the recipes and everything. COVID was just a launch point for me, almost like a kick in the butt,” he said.

Prior to the pandemic, he worked at Vernick Fish in the brand new Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia atop the Comcast Center. He left when the coronavirus first shut down the restaurant — he was burnt out from the long hours on the job anyway. 

Fortunately, his new venture has reinvigorated his love of cooking. Trinh creates small-batch hot sauces and condiments, particularly, his XO Sauce.

“XO Sauce is a classic Chinese condiment that originated from Hong Kong,” he explained. “It's made up of seafood — primarily scallop, shrimp and crab — cooked down with ginger, garlic, carrots, and shallots, with oil, chiles. It's used as a table condiment. I use it in BBQ sauces, marinades, lemon mayo.”

A post shared by Jacob Trinh (@trinheatss) on Jul 17, 2020 at 12:33pm PDT

Trinh works out of the kitchen of a friend’s restaurant. He makes about 50 bottles of each product — and he’s been selling out weekly.

“A lot of people are cooking at home, so this definitely gave me the market to sell the product,” he noted.

During the day, Trinh works at his family's auto tag business. Then for about three hours each night, he cooks and ferments his sauces. By this time next year, he hopes his flavors will be a staple at some farmers markets.

“My next steps are to perfect the recipes and create a signature hot sauce,” he added.

A post shared by Jacob Trinh (@trinheatss) on Jul 28, 2020 at 7:18am PDT

Hot sauce enthusiasts can order Trinh’s sauces by messaging him on his Instagram page.

For more, listen to the KYW Newsradio original podcast What’s Cooking on the RADIO.COM app.