If you’ve been dying to spice up your Caesar with something tastier and sexier than a celery stick, you best turn your attention to The Extreme Bean. That’s right, your garnish just graduated to new levels of gourmet. We caught up with Matt Larochelle and Steve McVicker, the two long-time best friends behind the Canadian company…
Tell us a bit about yourselves. What should people know?
We first met bartending at a popular Toronto restaurant and since then have been best friends and business partners for close to 20 years.
How did you become so obsessed with making the perfect Caesar?
It’s pretty simple. We are very sociable guys and have always enjoyed tipping a few cocktails, the Caesar being our favourite. After having a few one day, we had the idea that we could develop something that better fit the flavours than a celery stick.
How did the company come across the Kentucky flat bean?
We kind of stumbled upon the flat bean while doing some research at a local food market. When we first came up with the concept of trying to change the Caesar garnish, we knew we needed a vegetable that was long enough to stick out of a Caesar glass. As we walked around the store, we came across the bean section and spotted a bean that was significantly longer than all the other green beans that they had. Once we sampled it we knew we were on to something because it had the length we needed, a big crunch, along with just the right amount of sweet. We bought a bunch, worked on the recipe for a few months, and The Extreme Bean Hot & Spicy was born and the recipe is still the same.
Over the years, what have been the biggest challenges and rewards?
The biggest challenge when we first started was to convince people that a spicy bean in a Caesar was actually a good idea (not everyone was buying into our plan at first). With the Caesar being such an iconic Canadian cocktail, it took a lot of time and countless hours to change hearts and minds. We knew if we could get enough people to sample The Extreme Bean they would start believing like we did. The biggest reward is starting to see the results of the hard work and many years we have put into the company. It is great to see how so many people have embraced the brand and to see where it is today and all of the possibilities on where we can take it. On another note, how many people get to say they get to work with their best friend every day…? Now that is fun and rewarding.
What’s your favourite restaurant and why?
We are very easy-going guys and are comfortable anywhere. Our favourite restaurants are the ones that have supported us over the years. We try to get out and visit as many of them as possible and support those that have supported us.
If you are not having a Caesar, what are you having?
If not having a Caesar you would probably find a beer or a nice glass of red wine in Matt’s hand, and Steve would be enjoying a few pints or an Old Fashioned or Negroni.