Of all the ultra-hyped eatery openings this summer, few generated more buzz than local chef and restaurant mogul Micah Camden's new Pearl District burger bar, Little Big Burger. The simple menu of supersized sliders and fries has been roundly declared "delicious" by foodies and fast-food junkies alike, but the item receiving some of the loudest applause is the housemade sauce that sits in squeeze bottles on every table. Camden developed the ketchup formula four years ago to complement the gourmet burger at his first restaurant, Yakuza Lounge, in an attempt to create a healthier, high-end alternative to corn syrup-laden commercial ketchups, while still retaining the sweetness that makes them so addictive. The sauce is sweetened with honey, and is made from a thick and peppery mix of tomato paste, champagne vinegar, hemp seed and spices. But the ingredient that really sets his sauce above the tomato-flavored goop on grocery store shelves is the addition of Sriracha sauce, which gives each mouthful a fiery kick. As his Yakuza burger built a reputation as one of the best in the city, the sauce gained a cult following in its own right. "People kept asking if they could buy it," says Camden. "Ketchup is the No. 1-selling condiment in America, and I noticed that there was no healthy ketchup out there—or there was, but it all tasted like shit." So with the opening of Little Big Burger, and a more approachable, accessible storefront than his trendy, spendy nighttime restaurants, he decided to finally make a commercial version, labeling it Camden's Catsup. In the two weeks since the diner opened, he has already sold more than 300 bottles. "We had a person come in from out of town, and after standing in line for 15 minutes for his burger, stood in line for another 15 minutes and ordered 20 bottles to take back to Texas," says Camden. He plans to have Camden's Catsup available in New Seasons and Zupan's Markets by February of next year. Until then, you'll have to join the long line snaking out of Little Big Burger for a taste.
Camden's Catsup is available for $3.75 at Little Big Burger, 122 NW 10th Ave., 274-9008. 11 am-9 pm daily.