Today I’m speaking with a good friend of mine, Al, the founder of Mana Sauces here on Long Island. Blending his passions for music, art and food, Al brings and energy to today’s episode you won’t want to miss.
We discuss his culinary background, tips for the ultimate pesto and keeping a positive attitude for the changing world in which we live in. I kicked off our interview like I have many before, asking Al how he’s doing. What I got in return was his life motto.
“Life is beautiful no matter what. As long as we’re walking on our two feet what’s the point of complaining.”
share this episode
Never Miss an Episode
watch the mana sauces interview
About al fenza
From that statement alone you can get a glimpse into Al’s personality and his business, Mana Sauces that he started back in 2015. From an epiphany one night he became obsessed with figuring out how to bring his sauces to market and turn it into a business.
His passion for food goes way back to his grandfathers who both cooked and owned luncheonettes. Growing up he saw both of them cook, with different styles and they became Al’s culinary heroes.
Al recognized college wasn’t for him after a brief stint at Nassau Community College. He wanted to perfect his abilities in the kitchen which is why he made the decision to go to culinary school at the French Culinary Institute. Al admits he needed that strict training to hone his skills but also realized he didn’t want to be a restaurant chef.
why hummus & pesto?
After discussing Al’s past, including his passion for music, my big question was … “Why hummus?” He actually started with pesto and mayo at his first farmers market. At that market he met someone who was selling hummus across from him. The gentleman asked if Al if he liked hummus and surprisingly he said no. After that initial conversation the two of them became extremely close and Al learned how to make hummus under his instruction. \
Mana Sauces offers a variety of sauces including pesto, hummus and mayo. He also private labels his pesto for a number of farms on Long Island. Al decided to focus on doing pesto really well rather than offering variations.
I decided to dig further on what makes a pesto special. Is it the basil? Is it the pecorino romano cheese? Is it the pine nuts? In true Al fashion my answer was not what I expected. Aside from a special spice blend he uses I was hit with a Miles Davis quote “Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the guy who plays it is 80 percent.”