There are many misconceptions about autism, and many people on the autism spectrum think differently and creatively. One young man is using his passion for the culinary arts to raise awareness about autism with an original line of sauces.
Julen Ucar, the creator of Julen’s Ausome Sauce, is 20 years old and lives in Huntington Beach, California. While he is on the autism spectrum, he doesn’t consider himself different from any other person.
“He really wouldn’t tell you that he has challenges,” Julen’s mother Michelle told The Epoch Times.
Julen first developed an interest in cooking at age 14. He would cook with his family every night, and began looking for ingredients in the pantry to make sauces for his family’s meals.
When he was 15, he began experimenting with different ingredients and started to develop his own recipes. After testing several recipes, he ultimately created two different sauces: “Off the Charts” and “Non-Verbal Herbal.”
The Off the Charts sauce features red chili flakes, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, and garlic, while the Non-Verbal Herbal consists of two different kinds of vinegar, oregano, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Julen hosted a tasting party at his home with family and friends, and had his guests leave comment cards. He then took those comments and adjusted his recipes, and later had another smaller gathering of about 10 people to make sure he had made the proper changes.
“We had to taste and adjust it all summer,” Julen explained.
After finalizing his recipes, he found a co-packer in Newport Beach. They then scaled up his 12-ounce recipes to a 20-pound test batch to ensure the flavors remained consistent. From there, they made a batch of 1,000 pounds of sauce, equaling over 1,000 bottles.
Going Into Business
Julen’s mother Michelle met the owner of Ways & Means Oyster House in Huntington Beach, California, and the two immediately hit it off. Julen came in and met with the staff and chef Jackie Salazar, and had them taste his sauces. Immediately, the restaurant wanted to partner with Julen.
“They just were very supportive, and actually willing to give Julen an opportunity,” Michelle said.
Salazar decided to incorporate Julen’s Off the Charts sauce in an aioli for her tricolor cauliflower and salmon club sandwich dishes.
“When you take a bite of the cauliflower with the sauce you go ‘wow,'” Salazar said. Diners have responded well to the Ausome aioli, and have requested it as an addition to other dishes, such as french fries.
While the Non-Verbal Herbal is not in season at the moment, Salazar has experimented with it extensively, using it as a fish marinade, a salad dressing, and with pasta and Brussels sprouts.
At home, Julen and Michelle like to use the Non-Verbal Herbal sauce as a dressing for a Brussels sprout salad or a marinade for chicken. They also like to use the Off the Charts sauce in an aioli for asparagus, or to baste salmon.
For every dish that features Julen’s sauce, the restaurant donates $1 to the school of his choice. Both Julen’s website and the restaurant have bottles of the sauces available for sale.
Moving forward, Julen wants to pursue cooking professionally, and is currently taking cooking classes at Orange Coast College.
“What he’s doing is incredible,” Salazar said.
Julen’s Off the Charts and Non-Verbal Herbal sauces are $6.99 for a 12-ounce bottle at JulensAusomeSauce.com
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons Off the Charts sauce
- Smoked paprika
Mix mayo and Off the Charts sauce together. Use as a drizzle over steamed or roasted cauliflower. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and smoked paprika. Also try as a dip for asparagus!
Brussels Sprout Shout-Out
- 3 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
- Non-Verbal Herbal sauce, to taste
- 1 small avocado, diced (about 4 ounces)
- 3 slices center-cut bacon, cooked and diced
- 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
- Shaved Parmesan (optional)
Place Brussels sprouts in a bowl and toss with Non-Verbal Herbal. Add avocado, bacon, and onion and toss gently. Top with Parmesan and serve.
All recipes courtesy of Julen Ucar
A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Julen Ucar in a recipe attribution. The Epoch Times regrets the error.