Jeff Mauro dishes on his new sauce line and the launch of his first restaurant, Pork & Mindy's

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AOL Build Speaker Series: Jeff Mauro
By Lisa Bonarrigo

If you've seen any of Jeff Mauro's Food Network shows or read the titles of any of his recipes, you know he's a funny guy. The winner of Food Network Star and host of Sandwich King and The Kitchen has a passion for humor. Combine that with his love for food, and it's no surprise his face is on the label of his Pork & Mindy's sauce line that debuted earlier this year, which he describes as "an homage to one of the great comedies of all time."

Jeff is also launching his first restaurant by the same name at the end of 2015. He says he'd been approached several times about opening a big full-service restaurant, but it didn't "click" until his partner, Kevin Corsello, came to him with the concept for Pork & Mindy's. "He came to me, and it just felt right," Jeff shares. "The stakes are big. There [are] a lot of great partners involved ... and I loved the name, Pork & Mindy's. I loved the concept. I love that it's fast casual, approachable, fun and community-driven — and [it's] something we can take nationwide."



Pork & Mindy's is described as a celebration of food, music and art, and Jeff explains that there will be a hyperlocal focus when it comes to different elements of the restaurant. Artwork hanging throughout the space will come from local artists, and the music will be curated from new and budding musicians and DJs in the area. "There's just so much that we want to do to embed ourselves within the community, because we want it to be a comfortable, fun space for people to go to," Jeff says.

The restaurant will feature a wide selection of slow-smoked sandwiches that feature flavors Jeff hopes appeal to the masses. "Our sandwiches are simple," Jeff shares. "The flavors and combinations are very new and fresh, but they're very approachable...I want to introduce the world to some new flavors, but I also want them to embrace it without being put off."

One sandwich that's already gained fame is the Bao to the Pork, which includes hickory-smoked pork with pickled daikon and carrots on a custom bao bun, which is a hybrid of a bun and a bao. It's topped with a relish made with fresh cucumber, jalapeno and cilantro in addition to Pork & Mindy's Asian Plum sauce, one of four upcoming additions to the sauce line.



The first three sauces that debuted earlier this year include Mustard, Sweet and Sweet Heat flavors. Jeff is most proud of their homemade flavor, and the fact that they aren't made with any fillers. Unlike some other barbecue sauces, they aren't cloyingly sweet or oddly thick. "It's a product that my family, who's very honest with me, loves, and runs out of, and begs me for more," he shares. "They love it, and it's something that I proudly cook with, proudly serve and proudly put my face on."

Jeff recommends using the sauces for marinades, or as a topping. "If you combine [our mustard] with mayonnaise and put it on a turkey club sandwich, it's phenomenal," Jeff recommends. He also suggests basting your burger with the Sweet or Sweet Heat flavors. "It just soaks in there and perfectly caramelizes, because it's not just sugar," he shares.

As a native of Illinois, it's no surprise Jeff is starting his business in Chicago, but he doesn't plan to stop there. He'd like to bring the greatest sandwiches in his repertoire to the national stage, and eventually go international. "I want people to be able to experience sandwiches in the purest form ... for everybody, not just fast food sandwiches in a wrapper. I'm talking about well-constructed [sandwiches] for the masses." he says.

See photos of Jeff Mauro through the years:
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Jeff Mauro through the years
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Jeff Mauro dishes on his new sauce line and the launch of his first restaurant, Pork & Mindy's
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Jeff Mauro attends the AOL Build Speaker Series at AOL Studios on May 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Jeff Mauro and guest attend 2015 Can Do Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on April 21, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Chef Jeff Mauro and Chef Josh Capon enjoy a 95 calorie Official Beer of the Burger at Amstel Light Burger Bash hosted by Rachael Ray during the 2015 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival on February 20, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Gabriel Bancora/Getty Images for Amstel Light)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 20: Chef Jeff Mauro attends Food Network in Concert on September 20, 2014 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Food Network Magazine)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 20: TV Personality Jeff Mauro (L) gives a demonstration at Food Network in Concert on September 20, 2014 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Food Network Magazine)
WATER MILL, NY - JULY 05: Jeff Mauro James Mei and Stephanie Smith attend The Ultimate Sandwar To Benefit American Cancer Society hosted by celebrity chef Jeff Mauro and 300 Sandwiches Stepahnie Smith at Red Stixs on July 5, 2014 in Water Mill, New York. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Sandwar)
WATER MILL, NY - JULY 05: Jeff Mauro and Katie Lee attend The Ultimate Sandwar To Benefit American Cancer Society hosted by celebrity chef Jeff Mauro and 300 Sandwiches Stepahnie Smith at Red Stixs on July 5, 2014 in Water Mill, New York. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Sandwar)
CORAL GABLES, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Katie Lee and Jeff Mauro attend Barilla Interactive Lunch Hosted By Katie Lee during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival at The Biltmore Hotel on February 22, 2014 in Coral Gables, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Koren Grieveson, Anne Burrell, Jeff Mauro and Sarah Mauro attend Sirius XM's FOOD TALK with Geoffrey Zakarian, presented by Key Group Worldwide and The James Royal Palm on February 21, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for James Royal Palm Hotel)
MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 20: (L-R) Gigi Hadid, Tim Love, Jeff Mauro and Emily Ratajkowski attend Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Beach Volleyball Tournament on Ocean Drive at Miami Beach on February 20, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: Jeff Mauro attends Food Networks 20th birthday celebration at Pier 92 on October 17, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
In this photo released by Nestlé Prepared Foods/Hot Pockets on July 16, 2013 - Food Network's "Sandwich King" Jeff Mauro is seen on location with the new Hot Pockets brand sandwiches in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Nestlé Prepared Foods/Hot Pockets/AP Images)
Jeff Mauro and RPM Italian Chef Doug Psaltis at Food Network Magazine Chicago Lounge at RPM Italian, on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP Photo)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 10: TV Personalities/Chefs Aaron Sanchez (L) and Jeff Mauro attend the Food Network Magazine NYC Lounge at The Lambs Club on October 10, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Network Magazine)
LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 707 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jeff Mauro during a skit with host Jimmy Fallon on September 27, 2012 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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