OWNER, FIRE IN THE KITCHEN SPICE CO.
SPICE CREATOR, FIREFIGHTER, DOG LOVER
After a 24-hour-day putting fires out, there’s nothing Christian Horner loves more than cooking up new ways to start them — spice-wise, of course. But he also loves getting muddy with his dogs and clearing his head on his rural Caledon property. And figuring out how to make more kitchens “happier than hell” while giving back at the same time. All this to say, this high-octane spiceman knows he’s got a lot of good things going, and he credits the big skies and balance of the Headwaters for helping him put them all in perspective.
So… did it start in the firehouse kitchen? Was there fire in the fire house?
No, sorry. Way before. My mom was a caterer, and I was chopping up parsley at seven. And I never left. Then over the years, I developed this one spice just for fun, that so many people asked me for that I brought it to my local butcher, and he said absolutely. I’ve got a graphic background as well, so I came up with the Fire in the Kitchen brand, called the spice One Rub… and he sold out two cases in two weeks and he wanted more.
But he did more than just buy some spices…
Yes. He said to me, Okay, Christian: What’s next? if you really want to take a stab at this, come up with a line. And we progressively got to here we are now, with 14 products, we don’t advertise, it’s all word of mouth, and everything we’ve got started with me basically in an apartment, mixing stuff in a big pot.
Now we’re in about 250 retailers across Ontario and Canada, I’ve got people mixing my recipes for me and people packaging for us. We work with a group called the Corporate Group in Scarborough, they work with highly functional autistic people. They’re very good at what they do, they’re very meticulous. I’m so proud to work with them, they’re complete pros.
So you can do well and do good.
My philosophy is, if i can do well at something and include helping others do well, I search for it. We’re working with Ronald McDonald House, donating some spices to their kitchen, hopefully doing a BBQ with them. This is where we’re at now, but two years ago I couldn’t entertain this kind of stuff, but now we can build it right into our operation. It’s a win-win. That’s exactly what I’m finding.
The vibe off your food is real, tasty, but you don’t play up your other job too much.
I knew that I didn’t want to line things directly with the firefighter aspect of me: I wanted them to love the product because of what’s inside. But a lot of my product names definitely are. My hottest one’s called Big Angry’s 3-Alarm, and in Toronto’s that’s a deadly fire… that’s HOT! My Captain Bradley Ocean Rub, that’s named after my Fire Captain. I told him, I’m going to name this after you, he said, absolutely!
So how do you escape the heat, so to speak?
Dogs, land, wide open skies. Because my wife is a mortgage broker, she’s always sniffing around (laughs), and because we have three dogs and we also do rescue work and fostering, we wanted a free run area and a pond they could play in. We found a property in Palgrave, and fell in love with it. It’s our forever home.
It’s your refuge?
100%. The minute I get to Gore road and I’m starting to head up north, I can feel the stress leaving my body. But it’s a good stress. I’m really, really fortunate. Two great careers I love.
You’re not alone. People never stop up here, they’re always looking around what’s next…
There’s something about the air up here. Having that kind of open space where you’re allowed to think and breathe clearly, versus being in places where it’s congested, where you feel tight and in a cage. I have to praise my living situation for my success as well. The more I’m up there, the less I want to leave.
Food is art up here.
It’s not just the foodies, it’s the artists as well… there’s all these amazing, talented people in the Headwaters. That’s what made us want to stick around and set our post up, so to speak and be here forever. The quality and the interest and the passion for food all come together, and it’s just awesome.